A few months ago, I became acquainted with Sandy Wright, who was just on his way to do an elective placement at a paediatric hospital in Argentina as the final part of his medical degree at University College London, my alma mater. When he got back, we had time to catch up and he told me about the different projects he has been working on since then.
Creative entrepreneur Sandy Wright, taking location shots before filming. Sandy recently graduated from UCL with two medical degrees.
Although Sandy recently graduated with two medical degrees (MBBS BSc), his main passion is working in the creative industries. He has launched two startups: the first is the creative consultancy, Little Less Known, which he co-founded two years ago with a couple of friends as he was doing his bachelors degree. Little Less Known works with independent UK businesses to champion unique local spots that have not reached mass appeal. They also work with entrepreneurs and creatives who want to showcase their startups or skills. Founders and businesses are filmed in a distinctively post-modern way that defies the typical corporate video.
Belgrave Feast, part of Leeds Indie Food Festival
Some of the Little Less Known businesses they have covered include Ernest Wright & Sons, a traditional scissors makers in Sheffield; Duke Studios, a co-working space in Leeds to Hoxton North, a coffee shop and wine bar in their hometown of Harrogate. They have also profiled artists such as Horace Panter, who is also a bassist from the band "The Specials"; and worked with startups such as PropertyScape. In addition, the team at Little Less Known have also filmed and produced videos for food and music festivals, charities, crowdfunding campaigns and local events around London that cater to entrepreneurs.
House of Genius, monthly networking event where budding entrepreneurs present their business ideas and receive honest feedback.
Sandy also subscribes to Doctorpreneurs, an online platform that brings together a compendium of doctors around the world who are keen on going into entrepreneurship and focuses on MedTech health care startups. Sandy applied to go into medical school when he was eighteen years old, and it was the combination of the academic, clinical and science components all rolled into one which first drew him towards medicine. In his third year, he focused on pharmacology, a broad subject that exposed him to the fundamental principles of drug-receptor interactions as well as allowing him to apply pharmacological principles in the laboratory.
We had a very extended chat about the pharmaceutical industry and Sandy tells me that a book that really changed his outlook was by the British physician Ben Goldacre who had written Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, which dealt with various issues within the pharma industry.
One of the differences between the U.S. and the U.K. is that although pharmaceutical companies can literally "buy" the opinions of doctors in the U.S., in the U.K. doctors must declare all conflicts of interest, especially if they are taking commissions from the pharmaceutical companies to endorse their drugs, and remove themselves from any decision making bodies as outlined in the ethical guidance from the General Medical Council.
British physician Ben Goldacre is the author of Bad Pharma, a book that dissects the various corruptions within the pharmaceutical industries.
As a medical student at UCL, the concept of polypharmacy (ie, multiple prescriptions and medications) is something that needs to be regularly reviewed by medical professionals. In Sandy's training, doctors have been taught to question whether a patient needs to be on multiple medications? Do the side effect profiles benefit and outweigh the risks? The general perception of his medical training was more on the stress on the importance of actual benefit for the patient as a whole to ensure patients aren't on unnecessary drugs that may actually cause more harm than good. This seems to be the opposite of medical practice in the U.S., which has been criticised as propagating a pill-popping culture.
We also had a brief off-topic chat about homeopathic medicines, and Sandy tells me that is something not generally taught at U.K. medical schools. He emphasised how medications provided on the NHS are normally supported by a body of high quality trials and evidence. Often this is lacking with complementary and alternative medications. What Sandy found more exciting was the exciting advancements in personalized medicine and targeted treatments, particularly the new proton beam therapy centre currently being built at University College London Hospitals (UCLH).
A model cross-section of the new proton beam therapy centre at UCLH that is currently undergoing construction.
Sandy recently launched a second startup that began as an extension to Little Less Known, but became its own entity over the past year. By this coming December, his second company will launch a mobile application called STAMP that allows users to discover and experience the best independent places they have been to around cities in the U.K. He intends for the app to be available in Leeds, where he is from, as a testing ground before becoming available in London.
Little Less Known currently offers a video package for early stage companies. From £1000, the team will film for a day and produce two videos. The first is a Little Less Known style video that focuses on the Founders and the product in order to showcase the startup. This video is usually distributed to various online platforms. The second is a promotional video for the company to spec as they wish. This could be a promotional video for their website of a specific series of content on their product.
I asked Sandy what his plans were for 5-10 years in the future? Would he be a doctor at National Health Service (NHS) or would he take his current startups further? Although his intellectual curiosity had taken him to one of the best medical schools in the U.K., many junior doctors are becoming disillusioned with the health service due to the recent government changes in NHS contracts as a result of government plans to establish a seven day service. Although there are merits to this idea, Sandy tells me currently there isn't a credible plan to ensure there is appropriate cover and support within a seven day service. Ultimately, this would result in a lower quality of care for people in general, as there wouldn’t be enough healthcare staff, and without proper staff cover, there's a risk doctors would be overstretched and overworked.
Ultimately though, Sandy's passions have steered him towards becoming a founder of two creative companies, and he hopes to grow them organically into successful businesses within the next decade.