Founder Spotlight: Martin Willemink, CEO & Co-Founder of Segmed

I was born in Germany to Dutch parents, grew up in The Netherlands, lived for 5 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and moved one year ago to San Diego in Southern California.

BSc in Biomedical Engineering, MD (Medical School), MSc (Epidemiology), PhD (Medical Imaging)

Don’t be busy: be productive.

Photography, running, soccer, and biking.

What was your very first job?
When I was in high school, I started a webdesign company called Smartie Webdesign. I designed the websites for local companies like a car dealer and a tennis club.

What is the history of Segmed? How did you get started and what problem were you trying to solve?
While leading the cardiovascular imaging research team at Stanford’s Department of Radiology, my team and I developed many AI algorithms and did a lot of research with medical imaging data. It was very challenging to curate the data (de-identification, structuring, etc.) which took on average 18 months per project. This was the problem my co-founders and I started tackling when we met at Stanford Ignite, a program from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. We went through Y Combinator, raised a total of USD $10 million so far, built a unique self-serve data platform that allows our customers to build cohorts of de-identified and structured data, and grew our revenue quickly by onboarding companies ranging from small startups to large enterprise customers like Microsoft, Siemens, and Bayer. With our platform, we are bringing the 18 months of data preparation time down to 14 days.

What have been your favorite and least favorite parts of the fundraising process?
My favorite part is the moment when you receive a term sheet. The least favorite part is all of the paperwork that needs to be handled after signing the term sheet.

What do you love most about your team?
I enjoy working with smart and motivated people. Most of my career, I’ve worked at academic institutions, where things move much slower than at a fast-paced company like Segmed. It’s great to see how quickly we can get things done!

What has been your most satisfying moment in your business journey so far?
When I was working clinically as a physician, I was able to help one patient at a time. Later, when I was working as a clinical researcher/scientist, I was able to help a cohort of patients (25-100) at a time. Now, at Segmed, we are impacting thousands, if not millions, of patients at a time!

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently as a founder?
I think there are a lot of things that we did the right way (with the knowledge we had), but I would probably pivot quicker after realizing that a certain approach wasn’t working.

What do you think is the most important quality for a founder to have?
Perseverance. Running a startup is a rollercoaster, one week you think you’re not going to make it and the next week you’re on top of the world. It’s essential as a founder to keep the long-term vision in mind and go for it!

What is your morning routine?
I’m a morning person, so I do early morning workouts, then I spend some time with my son and wife, eat breakfast, and start to work usually between 8am and 9am. I’m currently working from home, so I don’t have a commute.

What is the best advice you have received that you would like to share with others?
Always learn from your (potential) customers. There is no need to develop a product that will not be used. Try to solve a real problem that your (potential) customers are facing.