Meryll Dindin of Polygon (our legal name being Polygon Technologies, Inc.).
Tell us about yourself?
A biomedical engineer and data scientist by training, I have a deep passion for applying technology to challenges in healthcare and education.
I started my journey in France, graduating from the top engineering school (Centrale Paris) with a Master’s in Computer Science.
My deep interest in human biology led me to spend my nights, weekends, and holidays working on a parallel curriculum at the University Paris-Sud (Medical School), where I obtained a Bachelor’s in Biomedical Science.
After graduation, I went to work for a French startup and helped transition one of their edge military technology to medical applications for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
While working on those embedded AI algorithms, I met the Director of the DataIA Institute, France’s leading ecosystem in artificial intelligence, who sent me to Tokyo, Japan, to work on edge technology at the intersection of topology, deep-learning, and arrhythmia detection.
This resulted in a paper, a patent, and now deployed medical devices in Tokyo clinics.
Finally, I took another leap by applying to UC Berkeley and graduated with a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering, specializing in genetics and neurosciences.
This is where I met my co-founder Jack. We decided to create Polygon, a new kind of psychology practice that provides remote diagnostics for dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning differences.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
I believe that thinking that your idea needs to be the first of its kind is the biggest misconception.
Everything needs to be rethought all the time; having competitors does not make you less appealing.
You can disrupt parts of a market with a cheaper, more efficient, and/or more profitable alternative.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Among others, the most apparent lessons were (a) there is no way around managing moods and personalities to grow a team, (b) the idea amounts to negligible complexity in comparison to execution, (c) business is about people more than it is about product, (d) there is no unique way to build a company, (e) leading with examples is primordial.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would let me know that building a business is an extremely long and tedious process and that frustration about speed will not help.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
I do not believe in the separation between work and personal life and somewhat the opposite.
Building a business becomes your core “ikigai” and is what will drive you from morning to night.
Your personal life will be entangled with work, with a supportive partner, supportive friends, and family.
It will be necessary, though, to remain pragmatic about mental and physical health and to stay focused on yourself to play the endurance game that is building a business from scratch.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The idea came from my co-founder Jack, who was diagnosed severely dyslexic after university.
Given that he always had been an A-student while deeply struggling with reading and spelling finally getting this diagnostic was a lightbulb moment.
Knowing that 1 in 5 people have a learning difference, the thought that everyone should get access to those evaluations is a no-brainer.
On my end, my deep interest is related to the study of the brain and the model of intelligence itself, which is arguably incomplete as of today.
Being a transhumanist and deep believer in our ability to extend health span, I needed to find a way to start researching the field of cognition effectively.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
The problems in our industry are threefold: (a) it is very expensive at the moment for anyone on the private market to get access to quality testing, (b) due to psychologist supply issues, we are suffering from year-long waitlists in many cases, (c) there is a deep reproducibility issue in the field of psychology, fueled by many providers using inconsistent diagnostic criteria leading to inaccurate diagnoses and ineffective accommodations.
The current alternatives are limited by people performing tests manually, including the newly popping online marketplaces, which predominantly magnify the problem.
On the other side, Polygon hires its licensed clinicians in-house. It provides them with a fully integrated platform automating most of their clinical work and all of the non-clinical chores.
Our providers focus on what matters and can play to the top of their licenses.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Nothing less than a pure scientific methodology.
It comes with a set of hypotheses to focus on with the team every week, with clear objectives that will prevent sunken costs and allow creative approaches on a specific stratum of the market.
There is a need for iteration and a steep learning curve.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
In our case, California is aware of the issues we target and is taking action.
It is also the home of many families ready to spend the resources that are necessary to provide the best path forward for their children, would it be in terms of time, early adoption, or money.
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
California makes it hard to operate a business for two main reasons: (a) its taxes (b) its regulations regarding employees.
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
If anything, we have noticed more funding going into schools and the education of the next generations.
We most likely have been less impacted than other industries, while the consequences of the increased living costs could likely impact our direct-to-consumer sales.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
Yes – but that competitive environment makes it the perfect hub for like-minded entrepreneurs that all have that same grit powering them.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
Not for the time being – even though the burden of Californian taxes on the business could make us revise our position.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
Polygon is on its way to disrupting the way diagnostics for learning differences are provided.
Our goal is ultimately to own the whole chain that is currently powering telepsychology and be able to finally bring the reproducibility crisis down with statistically significant results in the field.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
I would recommend visiting our website, and more specifically, our blog, and following us on social media.
Otherwise, we are usually very receptive to inbounds, and I am personally very happy to jump on phone calls to talk more about our journey. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for other inquiries!
Follow Polygon (our legal name being Polygon Technologies, Inc.) on Twitter or Linkedin.