Link To Guest Website:

Title: “A Digital Assistant For Post-Bariatric Surgery Patients”
Guest: Katie Milioni – My Habeats
Interviewer: Jonathan Freedman – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript

Jonathan (0s):
Welcome back to Radio Entrepreneurs. I’m Jonathan Freedman and our next guest is Katie Milioni of my habits. Welcome to Radio Entrepreneurs.

Katie (9s):
Welcome Jonathan. Thank you very much for inviting me. This is a great opportunity to talk to American people and discussing my journey from clinical research. So entrepreneurship, My Habeats.

Jonathan (22s):
So, so that’s fascinating and not, I’m not gonna, I’m gonna put that on pause for a second. We’ll get back to your background because really fascinating going from a clinical research career to becoming an entrepreneur, but why don’t you tell people first off what my habits is, you’ve developed an app and a very specific apps. So tell our listeners what it’s all about.

Katie (42s):
My Habeats is the first behavioral vaccine application for people who undergo bariatric surgery in order to help them adopt the new 80 fabrics and lifestyle changes that lasts forever for a healthier, happier life. And that’s really the first time to our knowledge, at least that an application has been specifically designed for those people. But I can tell you how this idea came up.

Jonathan (1m 7s):
Yeah. So I’d love to hear about it. As a, as you said, you were a clinical researcher at a long career in clinical research and you know, very often innovation is the mother of invention, right? Do you come up with an idea and a concept? So tell us how it happened in your case.

Katie (1m 24s):
I have, my background is chemistry. My first degree, then I did my PhD in France in first of all, it didn’t see that they come from Athens. I am a Greek person based enough in sexually and I have done so my PhD at the university of stressful in pharmaceutical chemistry, I have developed a drug for anti-inflammatory diseases. And then I went and spent three years, three to four years. Actually it was in San Francisco at the university at the medical school of UCSFs. And when I came back in, in Athens, I worked for almost 20 years on drug research and development.

Katie (2m 7s):
I found out early on that clinical research is, is actually innovation. And I was amazed by all these people who participated in our clinical trials, how difficult it was for them to really adhere to physician’s recommendation. So this was the trigger for me to participate at the European patient foam and to there, I had the opportunity to recent patients problems. Second thing is that one patient Barbara, who was participating in our entire basic study and she was the most disciplined. I mean, she didn’t miss any, any meeting, any, any appointment for our clinical research.

Katie (2m 52s):
One day she called me and she told me, you know, Katie, I’m going to quit and I’m going to do bariatric surgery, but please Katie help. How am I going to adopt to this new habits? So this was my inspiration. And I immediately tried to find, how can I become an entrepreneur? How I can, I can, so how I can bring a solution for the, for Barbara. So I was quite lucky because at that time it was six years ago, founded Institute, you know, this entrepreneurship program from Silicon Valley took place here in Athens. So my journey, my exciting journey with my habits really started.

Katie (3m 33s):
And I started digging deeply into behavioral change, into BCT and together with my team, I found other people who joined our team from Belfast, from bedroom, from Poland, and to establish my habits, as I said, is not specifically designed for post obesity patients, eh, in 2019

Jonathan (3m 60s):
By definition, right out of the gate, you have an international company just based on your team.

Katie (4m 6s):
Yes, we work remotely and that’s really my next step. Our next step is to soft land in the United States. So I want to come back from where I did my PhD. I want to, I want to start having, you know, discussions and partnerships maybe with United States because USA is our biggest market for my habits, of course. And

Jonathan (4m 31s):
So it was very, very fascinating. One of the revelations that you had when you’re doing your clinical research, and I wonder how much this is true is, is, you know, in a case of bariatric surgery, the surgeon can only do so much, right. They do their technical job of making the surgery work, but then so much of the outcome or the long-term success is really based on the patient’s compliance and habit changing, et cetera. And I, I would imagine whether it’s in this particular instance or any type of surgical intervention or medical intervention, a lot of the long-term success is dependent upon the patient. Are there, are, are there studies or facts that, that brought you to this conclusion with regards to barriers surgery that said, you know, 80% of patients don’t comply with what their doctors tell or the compliance of patients in general is really not very good post surgical intervention, et cetera.

Jonathan (5m 22s):
I would imagine human nature takes you back to whatever your bad habits were before they probably are afterwards.

Katie (5m 28s):
Yes, you’re right. Jonathan, you know, one of our medical advisors who is based in Czech Republic in Prague and who is executive director for Europe, but if so, if so stands for the international Federation for the surgery for obesity, told us in the Congress and he inspired me as well, that, you know, 30% success of the surgery depends on the surgery itself. And 70% is behavior change. So it’s an opportunity for us to start with post-bariatric patients actually, because these people, you know, th the people who undergo bariatric surgery after the surgery, I’d like the newborns they started with, you know, with week with food.

Katie (6m 14s):
And then after one month they start with, with solid food. So we have a unique opportunity to educate them. I mean, to become the new selves and of course, to be autonomous. And we use the term behavioral vaccine. And sometimes like if you had a lot of, you know, of contradictory discussions about Oh, boxy and it related to our fun, then you can to the difficult times that we’re living every, every one of us. And we say that, you know, you can, if you have done your surgery and now you have a unique opportunity to become autonomous. And we used the terminology behavioral vaccine, because after using my habits, you have, you w we want you to become self-autonomous you don’t, you don’t need to go again to visit a dieticians to visit that psychologist.

Katie (7m 6s):
You, you, you have the control of yourself. This is why also we use the terminology behavior and vaccine we, you against the old and already coming, but habits.

Jonathan (7m 21s):
No, no, we understand. So tell us about the premise behind the, the app itself. Is it, is it a tool that as a post-surgical candidate, I would utilize daily, hourly, weekly as it’s setting up schedules. I mean, it’s, it’s really about behavioral change. So I’d imagine repetition is key early on as, as with any habits, but what is the vision for how somebody interacts with, with the app and, and tell us a little bit about that life cycle, what it might look like for a patient.

Katie (7m 53s):
W we, you know, we had just started using our surgeons, the surgeons, the surgical centers within Europe factor. I recommend my habits because our business model is that the, the healthcare practitioners could do the follow-up of the newly operated bariatric patients recommend my habits use for their patients. The minimum, the minimum time for use for my habits is four months, four months, four to five months. However, for the first we recommend to use it at least 15 months in order, you know, to have the time to, to adopt these new habits.

Katie (8m 38s):
Of course, we are currently conducting a study at the NHS at Imperial college, which will give us also more evidence of how longer my habits use case to be better for, for this target audience. So, yeah,

Jonathan (8m 56s):
I would imagine over that period of time, you’re saying after 15 months, they should be ingrained habits that should stick with somebody presumably through their life, or hopefully through their life to be able to adopt that behavioral change and become a lifelong habits. Essentially. I, I guess, I guess, I guess, you know, maybe not a parallel, but I guess if, if people are, you know, maybe a bad example, but we’re alcoholics and, and, and, and, and, and it didn’t become, you know, what’s that period of time are they always tempted for life, or if somebody attempted to slide back into, into poor eating habits or over a period of time, do people really adopt those behavioral changes and, and lead the lifestyle that you’re looking to have them?

Jonathan (9m 39s):
What, what, what brought them to bariatric surgery in the first place? So, so hopefully people have adopted those habits over that period of utilizing my habits and developing new ways of, of living, correct. That’s yeah.

Katie (9m 52s):
You know, this, this target audience that we chose to work, at least as a first step, they have to be followed up for the rest of their life. Actually, the recommendations of, of guidelines, international guidelines are to be followed for their lifetimes. So my habits, I believe we don’t have data. So we are, we are scientists. So we don’t want to say things that have not been proved yet. So we don’t have this data, but considering that these patients have to be followed for for many, many years, because you know, way to begin happens after three to four years, we believe, we believe we believe, but stay is, we want, we have to test it too, in order to have this evidence-based data, we believe that this will really help these people not to regain the weight after 34 years, this is the problem we solve.

Jonathan (10m 52s):
Hmm. Well, it’s, it’s a fascinating premise because most people I think are under the perhaps mistaken illusion and again, not having gone through the process, but my understanding is that people think it’s a mechanical solution. The surgery is a mechanical solution in a sense, but, but the behavioral change is the difficult part for the patient.

Katie (11m 11s):
That’s true. That’s true. That’s why, that’s why the surgeon say the outcome. The successful outcome depends 30% of the surgery itself and 70% on behavior change. And you know, this is, this is true in many martyrs and you are also true that behavioral change is not an easy thing. It’s not an easy task, but you know, digital therapeutics and behavioral change modifications are going to be the 21st century drugs.

Jonathan (11m 42s):
Excellent. So Katie given that you, you had that long career in, in research and as, you know, have a, have a, you know, deep academic knowledge, you know, gained your PhD, et cetera. What is the transition like and help our listeners understand as a, as an entrepreneur and developing an app, you know, everybody has ideas about apps, but very few people actually execute on them. You’re somebody who took, took an idea, and I’ve now developed it into a real product that is going to market. What are some of the lessons that you’d like to share with other people or some of the things that you learned, perhaps if you identified one thing that was more difficult than you thought it would be just some lessons learned along the way for us.

Katie (12m 25s):
First of all, I think that passion is the first, okay. Everybody talks about this. Yes. You have to be here. You need to, to wake up in the morning and say, okay, today I will resolve this today, this. So I think if you are triggered by, by something, you know, by, by an idea, you have to observe first and then you need passion to execute it and perseverance. Otherwise you cannot succeed many times, many evenings. I said, okay, that’s it.

Katie (13m 5s):
I will go back to my previous job. I am experienced. I will. And then in the morning I said, no, no, no, this gets to be finalized. And, you know, Jonathan, the most difficult part of it was that all the team, all my habits are scientists. We don’t have developers in our team, and this was my most difficult actually, eh, the obstacle in really making the app available on Google play and top store. I mean, to have to have to discuss with developers, to discuss with software engineers. And this was my most difficult, the most difficult problem in really delivering the app.

Katie (13m 50s):
But it was so, so joyful the journey with my habits until today, I, we laughed with my team when we’re designing the app, I was here all the washing process, unless this was also at the university Belfast. And we hit some amazing time together, all together, designing the app. So I never regret that. I left a little bit clinical research because I will still do clinical trials, but of course with my habits. But if you, if you have a good time, if you enjoy what you do, this is the recipe.

Katie (14m 31s):
I think.

Jonathan (14m 33s):
Excellent sound advice. We’re going to have to bring you back again and learn more about the, the, the launch in the, and the adoption in the marketplace and how people are not only changing their habits, but changing their lives. Our guest on Radio Entrepreneurs has been Katie Milioni founder of my habits. Katie, if people want to get in touch with learn more about

2 (14m 52s):
Your app, learn about the company, learn about how you can help them. What’s the best way for them.

Katie (14m 57s):
We have, we have the digital friend, Lena, who are your friends? I mean, the friends of all these people who want to really adopt new, healthy eating habits and the lifestyle changes. And we welcome all of those, interested to know more about my habits. So they have to visit our website, my, or send me an email at <inaudible> at my habits.

2 (15m 24s):
And I just want to make sure that people know it’s habits. H a B E T S. Yes, correct. Excellent. Our guest has been Katie Milioni founder of my habits, and we wish you continued success as you.

Katie (15m 36s):
Thank you. We need it. We need it. Thank you very much on a phone. It was a pleasure talking with you.

2 (15m 41s):
Excellent. And we’ll be right back with another guest on Radio Entrepreneurs, right?

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