Mint Labs is the startup that has become referred to as ‘Google Maps for the brain,’ through its revolutionary medical innovation and technology laboratories. By using advanced image analysis algorithms that create complex 3D maps of the brain, Mint Labs helps medical professionals diagnose and treat brain diseases by providing better brain images.
KITE Invest: In laymen terms please briefly describe what it is that Mint Labs produces and creates?
Paulo Rodrigues: Nearly 33% of the EU population is affected by a brain disease. We provide detailed 3D maps of the patient’s brain, using advanced MRI technology. We bring advanced research in neuroimaging and put it in the hands of the doctors using mobile technology and new motion capture devices to make these tools easy to use. As a result doctors can have a better vision and understanding of the patients history and pathology, which can be critical for diagnosis and planning prior to brain surgery.
We are focused on the medical imaging technique Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI). MRI are like photos in black and white of the brain, where doctors can see the general shape of the brain, but not fine details. In Mint Labs we stitch together lots of these images and create complex 3D maps of the brain, which can be described as a ‘Google Maps for the brain’.
KITE: With a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and having contributed to articles on brain diseases, why did you decide to create Mint Labs? What was the catalyst to marry mobile technology, new motion capture devices, and neuro-imagery?
PR: We created Mint Labs to fill a gap that exists in the diagnoses and treatment of many brain diseases. Both Vesna and I did our PhDs in neuroimaging so it was an obvious choice for us to start Mint Labs after seeing that the medical sector did not have our technology available to them.
KITE: Please shed some light on the market itself and how has Mint Labs’ product been received thus far?
PR: The market is very large due to the fact that one in three people will suffer from a brain disease in our lifetime. Due to the gap that exists at this time we have been very well received by doctors and hospitals, we work with 16 hospitals at this time and we are expanding fast.
KITE: What distinguishes Mint Labs from other Startups in the biotech field, and specifically from your competitors?
PR: What sets ourselves apart in the biotech field from other companies is that what we do is different. We are creating advanced 3D images of the brain including fibers to be used for diagnoses treatment, and surgery. At this time what is used are 2D black and white images with no fibers. Being able to see the fibers and get quantitative results from the scans allow doctors and surgeons to have much more information than was available to them before Mint Labs.
KITE: Mint Labs’ product appears to be quite revolutionary, why has this specific type of product not already been produced?
PR: The technology that we use is a relatively new and complex. Both Vesna and myself did our PhD’s on Diffusion Tensor technology, working on the same team. So we have been working on our proprietary algorithms and our technology for eight years. It is not something that can just be produced.
KITE: Mint Labs was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the 5 Startups to watch from Spain and the Americas. The MIT Technology Review has named you one of the 10 innovators under 35 in Spain. Clearly these recognitions have helped to spread the word on Mint Labs, how do such accolades affect the business plan and previously forecasted trajectory?
PR: I do not feel that our recognition will affect our business plan at all, but it has definitely brought us a lot of attention. I think that it may speed up our overall progression as we move forward. Getting our name out there is always a good thing for a new company.
KITE: What has Mint Labs’ experience with investors been to this point? How would you say the investment / financial needs of the company vary to that of other Startups?
PR: Our experience so far with investors has been rather interesting, we have been received very well, but we were having a little trouble getting the investors to commit. Recently though we have been conducting our seed funding and have been doing very well. We have a lot of angel investors that we are talking to now and have about half of the round done.
Due to the fact that we are a healthcare company it seemed that investors were a little weary; however, we have been growing, we have 16 clients at this time, have expanded to the United States, and have our first clinical client in the US. It now seems the investors are seeing this and now want to get involved.
Our needs are similar to that of other startups, other than the fact that we are a medical company and we have a lot of R&D. We will probably need a little larger investment to scale and grow than the average startup.
Recently Mint Labs was the winner within the biotech field at The South Summit in Madrid, Spain, the increasingly growing and highly respected Startups competition.