Featured Founder: Phillipa Greenberg of Next Machine
Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Pete who are scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.
What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
Prior to launching Next Machine, I was working for a Fortune 50 Biopharmaceutical company. I took a global director role to begin centralizing and integrating their data analytics from both the R&D and commercial sectors. I traveled Eastern Europe for about a month to understand different markets, regulations, science and innovation and brought back the focus of integrating analytics within the pediatric oncology pillar first. It was here that I began to see the disparate gaps within enterprise infrastructure (the hardware itself) and the client facing analytics and insights process.
We weren’t able to pivot personalized therapies to kids quick enough and it wasn’t because we didn’t have access to the right data to solve this problem, it was simple — We didn’t have the ability to harness big data, cleanse, validate and govern the data quick enough to deliver on-demand, actionable insights.
I spent a lot of time on listening tours and realized the solution had to be simplified: What if we could provide a backend engine to harness massive amounts of data generated by large enterprise, and also provide tools on a unified platform for our data scientists and analysts who are turning data into actionable insights?
What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
Next Machine is solving the demand for higher level data intelligence, which is pivotal in the healthcare sector where we are accelerating the diagnostic evaluation and assessment gaps in patient triage. We are harnessing cutting-edge technologies and methodologies to accelerate decisions that can only be made by humans.
Without a doubt, technology will expand other industries and will mandate curriculum changes within our education sector that is happening as we speak. To listen to other brilliant minds of up and coming students with an unrelenting passion to solve problems is a very special part of my journey, and to hear what other technologies our industry partners are embracing has been a blessing.
Name the biggest challenge you faced as you’ve launched your company. How did you overcome it?
I have two:
1) The churn and burn of people. Finding individuals that understand the startup process and evolution is hard. Working in a startup is unlike any other environment — one day you wake up on top of the world and a couple of hours later, you feel as though you made the biggest mistake ever. Because of this, the biggest challenge for me has been how to recruit and retain niche talent.
2) Struggling with what you don’t know as an entrepreneur. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Go on listening tours and reach out to people you might not normally connect with. From my experience as a semi-pro bicyclist, I learned that whatever I needed to help me compete at my best is would I should seek out: from shoes crafted by a specialist to a sports psychologist to keep me mentally sharp. Most of the people I have met on my journey want to see us (my team and I- this whole journey would not be possible without my team) succeed. They want to help in any way they can. I think that is what’s special about the Tampa Bay area.
Where do you see your company headed next?
Within this year, we will expand and onboard at least 12 full-time employees and we will work with more focus in the Healthcare and Biosecurity space. We will also solidify our student ambassador program, offering a full semester internship program.
Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.
I have a few pieces of advice that in hindsight, I really wish someone had told me sooner.
1) Rally around your team and the people that are invested in your vision. Ask for their input and me mindful that everyone is in a state of transition.
2) Focus efforts on getting a client- I think there is a HUGE misconception in the startup world to fundraise and get investment. Handle your own money first. There’s nothing better for the company than being able to prove your product or service. This allows you to get proof points later on for investment and also allows you to refine your operating and delivery models along with your pricing models.
3) Surround yourself with trusted advisors and mentors! Some of these individuals turned into my Board members. They have contributed tremendouslyto the growth of Next Machine and all of our successes thus far. They have seasoned perspectives and offer foresight into things that I definitely would not have seen down the road.
4) Ask for help and be honest with yourself. Take time to gain clarity. Help can come from the most unlikely places.