Alex Templeton is the founder and CEO of Qured, a firm providing remote health screening to employers.
Staff use a painless at-home blood testing device, which has microneedles thinner than an eyelash, to assess everything from fertility and vitamin levels to diabetes risk and organ function.
Qured launched in 2017. The service is positioned as an employee benefit and also provides companies with anonymised insights into team wellbeing.
The London-headquartered company offered lateral flow tests for travel during the Covid pandemic and has worked with the likes of TfL, Goldman Sachs, American Express and British Airways.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Templeton explains how Qured pivoted during the pandemic, why it’s not enough to just hire diverse talent and explores why AI will be a “double-edged sword”.
1. What advice would you give to a first-time founder?
Alex Templeton: Understand that your first ‘big idea’ will not be your last and that you should be open to your business plan and product evolving to achieve true market fit.
There have been many iterations of Qured. I first launched the business as a ‘doctor on demand’ service after struggling to get GP appointments for my young children. Then, when Covid hit, we pivoted hard and fast. Qured was the first to offer “Fit to Fly” tests, and our existing remote health tech platform became the ideal foundation for video-supervised lateral flow tests.
Having facilitated over one million video-supervised lateral flow tests in 2021 alone, we pivoted again. This time, having helped countless employees get back to work safely, we turned our expertise in building health testing products which bridge the digital/physical divide to helping employers keep workforces well in the first place.
Each iteration of the business has been incremental and part of a natural progression, guided by our customers’ needs and the market. Being open to that process of evolution, while remaining true to our core values, has been pivotal to Qured’s long-term success.
2. What’s the best way to promote diversity in the workplace?
AT: It’s not enough to hire diverse talent alone. Employers must also empower workers from every background to thrive through inclusive and supportive workplaces – and this will look different for everyone. From professional development schemes and working environments, to team socials and health benefits, the solution is to tailor offerings to individual needs and priorities. This requires employers to consult staff confidentially on what would make the biggest difference to them.
For example, an employee from an underrepresented background might struggle with imposter syndrome, and feel that specialist coaching would best prepare them for a management role. Those with caring responsibilities might rely on the option to work from home, whilst disabled workers might require accessible venues for team away days.
The more diverse a team is, the more diverse their health and wellbeing needs will be. From menopause screening and support, to diabetes testing and care (remembering that workers from certain ethnic backgrounds are typically more likely to be affected by the condition) – there’s a huge variety of support employers can offer, too.
3. How do you prevent burnout?
AT: Like most people, making time for regular exercise, good meals, and time with family and friends helps to keep my mental health in check. But this isn’t always possible or enough when we lead such busy lives. That’s why I also make sure that I’m familiar with possible symptoms of burnout and proactively monitor for them so that I can take additional action if warning signs show up – and do so early on. This is the key to avoiding burnout as well as many, many other preventable health conditions.
The problem is that when you’re working long hours and your mental to-do list is stacked, it can be easy to ignore the crucial warning signs. So it’s important to get into the habit of taking the temperature of your mental health, in the same way you should regularly get physical health checks.
By taking a moment to reflect on how I’m feeling, I can then make some time in my schedule to go for a run or to go to a gym class if any unhealthy signs of stress show up. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and gain perspective. Plus, endorphins are nature’s antidepressants! I might also look to speak to someone I trust, like other founders who have shared similar experiences.
4. Excluding your sector, which nascent technology holds the most promise?
AT: Artificial intelligence will disrupt every single industry. From the most repetitive and process-driven tasks to every aspect of the creative process – something which we are already starting to see, but which has so far been seen as the preserve of human genius.
This will free up vast amounts of our time, and cause individuals to reassess what work actually means to them. It will also give us the tools we need to become the best version of ourselves, transforming how we look after our health and wellbeing, and how we schedule our time, for example.
However, AI will clearly be a double-edged sword. Regulators will need to work hard to ensure that the benefits of its development are felt equitably across society, whilst also protecting those who are more likely to be negatively impacted by AI disruption.
5. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?
AT: I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. The hardest part was figuring out exactly what kind of business I wanted to start. The fact that my dad and two siblings all ran their own businesses definitely fuelled this entrepreneurial drive.
At one point it felt like I was the only ‘employee’ in my family! But I knew that I wanted whatever I built to have a meaningful impact, and to be something I saw a need for in my own life and in the lives of those around me.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.