Doctorpreneurs: Dr Tim Fiori
This week's Doctorpreneur of the Week is Dr Tim Fiori.
Tim is a medical doctor and cofounder of HUMM Technologies, a startup with a vision to unlock the potential of the human brain.
While studying medicine at the University of Western Australia, Tim was involved in clinical research in electrical and magnetic brain stimulation, modulating the signals within the brain to assist patients recovering from spinal cord injuries.
This experience led him to found HUMM, seeking to translate the results of cutting edge neuroscience research to the mainstream.
What organisation / startup did you found?
In 2017 I founded HUMM with some close friends from university and high school. We are a company dedicated to improving cognitive performance with neurotechnology, and we got started with the singular goal of making tools to help people think better.
The rest has been a blur of R&D, randomised trials, capital raising and questioning our sanity.
We have outgrown our Perth basement for a Silicon Valley office, and built a formidable team eager to push the boundaries of what the brain is capable of. We are now gearing up for a product launch and getting our first taste of the entirely new set of challenges that accompany it.
What is its noble purpose?
We are firm believers in the potential for technology to expand our capabilities beyond what is considered normal, to not just restore function but unlock new possibilities.
We are motivated by the opportunity to take cutting edge research out of the lab and make it accessible and desirable for our everyday lives.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I had an extraordinarily typical Australian childhood - I grew up in a Perth suburb with a brother, a sister and a dog, attended the local primary school, played football and cricket and spent my free time collecting Pokemon.
My parents put an enormous amount of effort into giving my siblings and I the most normal and stable upbringing possible, and have kept us all close as we have grown up and gone our separate ways.
My dad introduced me to electronics when I was young and I remember building crystal radios, alarms and robots from DIY kits. I think much of that childhood satisfaction of building something cool and seeing it work drives me in the work I am doing today.
What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it?
I got my first paying job at age 14, stacking shelves at the local Coles after school. I wasn’t particularly good at it either - they tried moving me to the checkouts where I was even slower, and ended up landing in the deli department.
Somehow I kept that job, and I remember obsessively saving up my money so I could be the first kid in my school to buy an iPhone when it was released.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what speciality did you choose?
Medicine for me was an opportunity to be part of an industry where knowledge, skill and new discoveries could be applied directly to improve people’s lives. I have not gotten far enough to choose a specialty yet however!
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur? When exactly did you decide?
I do not think I ever made a decision to be an entrepreneur, instead it was more a reaction to both a problem and an opportunity.
I had been involved in brain stimulation research during medical school and had seen how few breakthroughs were eventually translated into practical and useful applications.
My cofounders were equally excited about the possibilities and when we went to form a company and raise funding, we found other people agreed.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes do you intend to stop if your organisation takes off?
I am currently practicing intermittently and have been very fortunate to find flexible hours.
It has been a challenge to continue clinical practice through the growth of HUMM, and although it is difficult to speculate about what the future may hold, I would like to see myself working a sustainable mix of both.
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship?
Coming from medicine, I have found the shift in thinking particularly challenging. We are trained to solve problems very differently - gathering all the facts deliberately, thinking deeply about the options and carefully balancing risk and efficacy.
It has taken much effort to be comfortable with acting quickly on incomplete information and being willing to accept significant risk.
What is your favourite quote?
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect".
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
I would start selling shotguns!
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