“Tell us it’s impossible”… That’s one of the core values here at Q Bio. It originally came from the challenges we heard when we pitched the company to outside investors and partners in the early days – the vision for the company and what we are building sounded straight from science fiction. Build a working version of Star Trek MedBay?! This not only requires inventing entirely new hardware capable of scanning the body quickly, cheaply, non-invasively and with a very high-level of reproducibility; it also requires integrating medical history, genetics, biochemistry, and wearable information to build whole-body, multi-system digital twins. We thereby empower individuals with better information about their bodies that they control, as well as allowing clinicians to track and forecast changes in their health – automatically identifying people who are at the highest risk for expensive existential health events on the near-term horizon.
We have always taken that challenge head-on and recognized that what we are building is hard, but we believe that healthcare will ultimately prevail as an information science. And the best decisions will be made by combining the most reliable parts of machine learning with the highest quality information about our bodies – specifically how each of us is changing over time.
We embraced “Tell Us It’s Impossible” as a value to show resilience in the face of what we knew would be difficult technical and operational challenges when building hard science. We recognize not everything will always work and that we will have many questions without clear solutions, but we focus on problem-solving and finding answers together. What can we control and make progress on every day? Where do we need to be persistent?
This has served us well as the team has not only made incredible progress on our Gemini dashboard and our whole-body scanner in the face of not just the ups and downs of daily start-up life, but a global pandemic. And this new year, we faced yet another historic challenge: our headquarters were hit by the New Year’s Eve floods that hit the Bay Area.
I was sitting down to a celebratory New Year dinner with my family and two other families when I got the call. “Hey, Clarissa, we’re flooded.” It was a short call from Thomas, our VP of Radiomics, and checking our security cameras, I could see how bad it was. Online, videos of the Walgreens and Trader Joe’s up a few blocks from us showed cars underwater. The entire neighborhood was a lake and our street did not open up till the next afternoon as it was impossible for cars to pass through.
One of the expectations of behavior and actions we look for in the team is to show “calm and good judgment” as a reflection of our value. So, deep breath as I stepped into the restaurant’s hallway and started making calls. First, a quick call to Jeff, our CEO and founder. He was calm and asked to be kept updated and a message thread was set up between leadership where we could also rally ourselves and have clear communications for the team.
We were lucky in some respects. The first several calls to flood services showed they had been inundated, but the fourth company I called responded and was able to fit us in for site visit and cleaning the next day. Despite it being a company holiday, on Monday, January 2, our core hardware and operations team were onsite and met with the cleaners. With more rains forecasted, they rallied to salvage what they could, and worked to protect and mitigate the rest of the office. Our team was even seen on the local news as one of the businesses on top of preparations! Over 100+ sandbags were secured.
We were also fortunate that our Redwood City Q Center, where we offer our platform as a service and run many of our research scans, was not impacted. Our second floor offices were also safe and became our temporary main office. Two weeks later, our offices have been fully cleaned of all the mud, mold, and patching up and rebuilding the space is in process. Our team is able to be safely back in office and our prototype whole-body scanner is back online and being calibrated. Throughout, our software and R&D team have continued to make progress working remotely and we even hosted our first online bug bash event to meet an upcoming milestone!
So, here’s a big thank you to the team and to our vendors and partners. Thank you for your resilience. Not even a historic flood could take us down. Tell us it’s impossible.