Our CEO Alexander Börve saved his best friend from malignant melanoma
Ideas are easy! To find out if they are any good, just ask your friends. Your friends are the litmus test if your idea will fly or not. Nevertheless execution is everything, this is where a lot of ideas fizzle out or you go bankrupt down the road.
As a founder, the most rewarding moment, is when you get feedback from your friends and when friends without your knowledge have paid and used your product, which means they support you and there is a proven business model.
I got the idea to start First Derm many years ago, after I observed friends asking my then dermatologist girlfriend for advice on their skin concerns at dinner parties and social events. Sometimes it could be awkward when there was a genuine concern…. Encounters like these precipitated into the creation of an anonymous, on-demand dermatology service, that could be used from anywhere, anytime and in any internet connected device.
There are over 3000 skin diseases reported in the literature, however there is one main skin disease that kills if it is not discovered early. The skin cancer malignant melanoma has a more than 95% survival rate if caught early, but if it is caught late there is a quite fast and painful death, which sometimes can be within months.
It would only be a matter of time before a friend would show me a 5 cm (2 inches) scar on his chest after having used First Derm….
My Swedish entrepreneur friend Christian Bagge runs a video editing platform called Cloudreel, when he was visiting the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona the other week he told me:
Alex, I used your dermatology service last year and I think it might have saved my life!
He pulled up his shirt to reveal a 5 cm scar on his chest.
He told me he had a changing mole on his chest and that his wife had encouraged him to get it checked out. Bagge is a technology enthusiast, conscious about his personal time and he remembered my dermatology service, that would give an answer within hours. He downloaded the app and snapped two pictures: one overview and one close-up. A First Derm dermatologist responded promptly the same day, that he could not rule out malignant melanoma skin cancer and advised him to see a dermatologist in person as soon as possible to get it looked at with the help of a dermatoscope (a magnifying glass with an LED light that dermatologists use to look at moles).
Bagge was a bit shocked at first, but he followed the advice and booked an appointment at a dermatology clinic in his vicinity. The dermatologist confirmed that the mole looked suspiciously like a malignant melanoma and removed it with a 1 cm margin and sent it for a pathology lab. The pathology report showed that it was a malignant melanoma in situ, which is early stage malignant melanoma; when it is removed early, you are close to be 100% cured from the disease.
Friends ask me why I quit orthopedic surgery? I answered that dermatology is a specialty that can scale saving lives, using simple technology in your pocket.
And in this case, I am very happy that Bagge and I will grow old(er) together ??
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. I moved to the Bay Area in January 2013 and I attended the School of Public Health, UC Berkeley from 2013 to 2014 as a visiting PhD candidate. My PhD thesis is on Digital Health and so far I have published 4 peer review scientific papers. I founded First Derm in 2014.