Digerati50: The best still to come from Matt Chandran

Digital News Asia (DNA) continues a weekly series that profiles the top 50 influencers, movers and shakers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy. These articles are from Digerati50, a special print publication released in January 2014. For information on customised reprints of Digerati50, email [email protected].

  • Developed a disruptive technology, had to go overseas to find market traction
  • ‘If … you believe ... you will do anything you can to try and make that happen’
Digerati50: The best still to come from Matt Chandran

MATT Chandran (pic), founder of the InfoValley Group, hit the headlines in June 2013 when he received RM70 million (about US$23 million) in funding from Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) for its subsidiary iGene, an advanced medical informatics company.
 
The investment valued iGene, whose crown jewel is its Digital Autopsy System, at around RM200 million (US$62 million). The AIM investment was the single largest venture capital bet made on a Malaysian life sciences company by a government venture fund.
 
However, he first got into the radar back in 2004 when he contributed an article to leading business weekly The Edge, on his version of what branding ought to be for entrepreneurs.
 
Having just attended a technopreneur forum, he was dismissive of the ‘old fashioned’ concepts of branding he heard, including from a large venture capitalist firm which advised tech entrepreneurs to spend more on advertising and promotions.
 
He then offered his own vision of branding that “fellow entrepreneurs could draw a leaf from.”
 
Those who know him describe Matt as a very focused, intellectual and practical entrepreneur who is not lacking in self-confidence or belief.
 
For instance, on Oct 29, 2013, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak witnessed the official launch of Matt’s £3-million (US$4.7-million or RM15.1-million) Digital Autopsy Facility at Sheffield’s Medico-Legal Centre, at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in London.
 
When asked if he considered that the high point of his entrepreneurial journey so far, he replies: “In all honesty, no. I always knew we were on the right path and that the acceptance of the Digital Autopsy System would snowball slowly.”
 
Matt understands instinctively that his customers, many of them in healthcare, are not buying a piece of technology. They want to buy a solution that makes their jobs easier. That is what he is always seeking to deliver.
 
But he knows technology is the backbone for delivering this customer delight. Towards that, he has invested RM28 million (US$8.7 million) over the past eight years into research and development, just for his Digital Autopsy System – an incredible amount to be invested in by a small company, but Matt shrugs it off.
 
“If you are an entrepreneur and you believe in something, you will do anything you can to try and make that happen, and I just ploughed most of the profits from my other businesses back into this,” he says.
 
This brings us to what all the excitement over iGene is about. Its Digital Autopsy System allows for autopsies to be conducted with no cutting of a body.
 
It involves a three-dimensional scan of the body using a CT scanner. iGene’s visualisation software then converts the data into an accurate representation of the body to enable pathologists to conduct a full, non-invasive digital post-mortem.
 
This puts it in the good books of all the major religious bodies which abhor the age-old forensic method of slicing up the dead to determine cause of death.
 
[UPDATE: Matt Chandran will be one of the panellists at the DNA-TeAM Disrupt session on Meet the Disruptors on Sept 24]
 
Matt first tried to sell it in Malaysia and while response was good, he got frustrated with the pace of progress. But because he knew the system had global appeal, he started looking overseas for customers and that is how he now has a commercial system employed in the United Kingdom,
and bringing in revenue.
 
He is now talking to a venture firm in the United States which wants the rights for the US market. “If this happens, it will be on a revenue share model but with them paying for all the expenses to set up the system,” he says.
 
It has been a 13-year journey for Matt so far, but one suspects his best years are yet to come.

 
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