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Luis Valente is the CEO and co-founder of the company, a strategist and entrepreneur who solves complex problems with innovative and creative strategies.

Recognized by Forbes as one of the top 30 scientists and health professionals under the age of 30, Luis has a background in computer science. He spent several years on innovation and improvement strategies in organizations ranging from technology to healthcare. After starting his first business at the age of 18, Luis has won awards in world-class management competitions such as the Global Management Challenge and the Global Marketing Compeors.

He is currently CEO and co-founder of iLoF, an Oxford-based start-up that is working on a new era of personalized medicine using artificial intelligence and photonics to build a cloud-based library of disease biomarkers and bioprofiles.

iLoF is a company based in Port and Oxford working on a new era of personalised medicine using artificial intelligence and photonics to build a library of disease biomarkers and biological profiles in the cloud. It provides screening and stratification tools in an affordable, fast and portable way, saving up to 40% of the cost and 70% of the time spent on screening for clinical trials. Backed by leading institutions such as Microsoft Ventures, Mayfield and Oxford University, the LiF now focuses on platform technology that has proven itself in one of the biggest epidemics of our time: Alzheimer’s disease, while the verticals in oncology, stroke and infectious diseases are constantly pursued.

In an exclusive interview with Louis, he said

Don’t wear yourself out too fast: Not everyone is cut out to work 80 hours a week, and all founders have to accept each other’s limitations.

Never take your eyes off the prize either. Whether you’re looking to retire or build and run a profitable business, always be clear to yourself (and your team) about what you ultimately want to achieve.

  • If you don’t know what port you’re in, the wind is unfavourable. Always keep your goals in sight
  • Few people can afford to change the world. Yet everyone has the opportunity to change
  • It is essential to always be surrounded by intelligent people you can trust: even/especially if they don’t always agree with you.

Read on to find out more about Luis Valente and his career path.

Luis Valente, CEO & Co-Founder Of iLof- An Intelligent Platform For Precise, Patient-Centric Drug Development

Tell me about your personal experience and why you started your business.

Luis Valente: My name is Luis Valente and I’m the Director General of OLAF. Although I studied engineering (computer science), I have always had an affinity with business. I started working at a very young age and eventually founded my first company at the age of 18. I see myself more as a business manager/strateeg, with the desire to solve complex problems with innovative and creative strategies.

IoT was born out of the recognition that the enormous advances in medicine over the past centuries have been based on the idea that the same treatment is effective for the entire population – while unfortunately this is not always the case. Most of today’s healthcare challenges are related to complex and heterogeneous diseases. These diseases are related to different factors and represent different behaviors in different people – and that’s what we heard about the rationale for creating iLoF.

What is your current core product and can you tell an earlier story about your current core product?

Luis Valente: iLoF is a platform that makes it possible to collect and store biomarkers for different diseases, as well as personalized biological profiles of different types of patients from a single drop of blood.

This cloud-based database (which can be compared to a fingerprint file) can provide low-cost, portable and non-invasive screening and stratification tools to recruit patients for clinical trials in a cost-effective and efficient way for the industry (40% savings and 70% time savings), while also being convenient for the patient.

While the platform is therapeutically agnostic and has a proven track record in areas such as oncology and cardiovascular disease, we are focused on bringing personalised therapies to market for a very important complex disease: Alzheimer’s disease, which we believe is one of the greatest health challenges of our time.

How much money have you raised so far? When was the last financing cycle?

Luis Valente: 3.1 million from various investors in technology and healthcare, including Microsoft Ventures, Mayfield Fund and EIT Health. Our last pay rise was in the first half of 2020.

Which internal decision-making processes determined the start of fundraising and what was its logistics? And how many investors did you meet, how did you meet them and which channels served you best?

Luis Valente: Money is like kerosene for a startup, but you don’t promote when you need it, you promote when you want what comes with the money: The experience and know-how of the investors. At our last fundraiser we took a unique opportunity to bring smart money into the company, which now speeds up our track record with a few orders of magnitude.

Since our foundation we have always been in contact with investors. With the help of our network of partners (accelerators, consultants), conferences and starter competitions, we were able to arouse the interest of several RCs who were kind enough to contact us to find out more about us. I estimate that we have met more than 100 investors over the past 18 months and that about 30% of these meetings have resulted in meaningful discussions and potential opportunities.

What are the main challenges and obstacles you have encountered in fundraising? If you had to start over, what else would you do?

Luis Valente: It is important to share material (e.g. key performance indicators, milestones). Moreover, ideally, you should already know which investors you want to have on board, so that it is easier to know which investors you should spend more time on.

What are the milestones for the next cycle? And what are your goals for the future?

Luis Valente: Although we do not currently raise funds, we do keep strategic investors informed. Pending the release of the A-Series, we will continue to develop our commercial validation activities, expand our online library (collection and processing of large amounts of bio-profile data) and fill key positions in our team.

How did you engage users and what strategy did you use to grow your business from start to finish?

Luis Valente: As a life sciences technology company, we have tried from the start to find a bridgehead so that users can try our product in a way that does not involve any risk for the user (and therefore no approval process).

This is what drives us to collaborate with biotechnology companies and hospitals on drug development and discovery (currently we support them mainly in pre-clinical and clinical work).

In the past, we used the networks that we could use to recruit users: through our key consultants, investors, partners, etc. we were able to recruit users. After the first conversation, you should have a clear value proposition and a risk-free proposition that prevents you from closing your first (sometimes unpaid) deal.

Which software was the best marketing tool for the growth of your start-up and why?

Luis Valente: We use Hubspot to organize our future leads: They have start-up prices and are generally a very flexible instrument. Pipedrive is also good, although it can be overwhelming for the first few races.

What do most start-ups have wrong with marketing in general?

Luis Valente: If you are a B2B starter, you can always benefit from greater awareness. This will help you attract the best talent and will also help you get your first meeting with Tier 1 investors. A combination of social media channels and social impact (e.g. conferences, competitions) is usually the right mix.

How do you plan to expand globally?

Luis Valente: It is always important for a startup to grow through channels. For us, pharmaceutical companies and CROs, these are opportunities to enter the global market without having a huge sales team.

What are the most common mistakes companies make in their global expansion?

Luis Valente: You’d better be ready. It may seem cool to open an office in Silicon Valley after your first fundraiser, but if you don’t have RCs to help you set up in that space, you can end up spending a lot of money without giving much in return. The same applies to other commercial markets: Make sure your product (and your team) is ready to deliver tracks and more traction.

How do you deal with the COWID 19 epidemic to ensure the survival of your business?

Luis Valente: COVID-19 was in fact an opportunity for OLAF. Through a government-funded project, we were able to help some of our clinical partners adapt our platform to predict which patients would become very ill after an infection (as opposed to mild/medium cases), demonstrating, in addition to the financial support, how quickly we can adapt to stratify patients according to a new condition.

Financially, we remained very conservative and only hired for the positions needed for our growth.

What are the most common mistakes founders make when starting a business?

Luis Valente: Don’t wear yourself out too fast: Not everyone is cut out to work 80 hours a week, and all founders have to accept each other’s limitations.

Never take your eyes off the prize either. Whether you’re looking to retire or build and run a profitable business, always be clear to yourself (and your team) about what you ultimately want to achieve.

What is the best advice you have ever received? And what advice can you give to someone who wants to do similar things with you, or go in a similar direction?

Luis Valente: Understand very well the key factors of the people you talk to. Discover the work you can do for them that has an impact on the personal level of their career (e.g. how much and how much you can afford to save, and how they can defend your decision to promote to the client).

What are the three most popular books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?

Luis Valente:

  1. The western world, in what makes us human (what is good is to be more than the sum of our parts).
  2. House of Cards as an example of how (and why) we continue to see morally deficient people in positions of power.
  3. The Man of Earth made me realize the power of the story and the narrative and how weak some of our beliefs are.

How to stay motivated every day

Luis Valente: I keep track of my agenda, a mix of things that excite me / give me energy, but also things that need to be done / contribute to our goals.

What are the three most important life lessons you want your (future) sons and daughters to learn?

Luis Valente:

  1. If you don’t know what port you’re in, the wind is unfavourable. Always keep your goals in sight
  2. Few people can afford to change the world. Yet everyone has the opportunity to change
  3. It is essential to always be surrounded by intelligent people you can trust: even/especially if they don’t always agree with you.

Why would you want to be remembered?

Luis Valente: As someone who is committed to the democratization of personalized medicine and has a measurable impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.

You can follow Luis Valente.

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