Over the coming weeks, MaRS will profile various entrepreneurs from Portraits of Innovation, our new photography exhibition showcasing Ontario’s diverse tech leaders. Today, we speak with Carlo Perez, co-founder and CEO of Swift Medical.
No school can truly prepare someone for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. So, Carlo Perez took up jazz instead.
“Improvisation, freneticism, finding method in the madness — playing jazz is a lot like running a company,” Carlo says. “I really think my training in art prepared me for my crazy life in the tech sector.”
Carlo is co-founder and CEO of Swift Medical, a startup that assesses chronic wounds with its machine-vision, 3D-modelling tech. To date, Swift has helped over 1,000 client organizations monitor millions of global patients, and streamlined over $1 billion in reimbursement claims. Its Toronto headquarters (home to nearly 100 employees) is also considered one of Canada’s most innovative workplaces.
You need a lot of confidence to start (and sustain) such a successful company. And Carlo believes that his artistic passions — music, photography, drawing and more — equipped him for the day-to-day grind of the business world. “Making art gives you an appetite for risk because you have to be creative and think on the fly,” he says. “It changes the way you see the world, real and abstract.”
Look no further than Swift Medical’s pitches to investors. Even when Carlo and his crew were strapped for cash (and living off food trucks), they spared no expense when it came to presentations: top-tier graphic design, heavily-weighted paper, a bespoke carrying case for their prototype, and so on. “It sounds silly, but Swift has always carried itself like a large corporation,” Carlo says. “We put ourselves in the upper echelon before we deserved it.” And it’s paid off. In March of 2018 (with a little help from MaRS), Swift closed a $11.6-million funding round led by Data Collective of the Bay Area and Real Ventures of Toronto and Montreal.
For Carlo, user design — and more importantly — “user love” has always been at the core of Swift’s business strategy. Whether it’s scrolling through the company’s beautiful website or navigating its fluid app, Swift wants to create delightful experiences. Ironic coming from a startup that deals with wounds, but Carlo contends that health companies should focus more on aesthetics precisely because of that irony.
That’s why Swift tries to hire artistic people, even if they don’t have all the required experience for a given job. “If you have a creative mind, there’s a good chance you’ll fit in with our culture,” Carlo says.
Art and culture; science and technology — it all leads to healthy results at Swift.
See the full exhibition.