Sinead Mac Manus

The Health Foundry

Sinead Mac Manus

Sinead Mac Manus, a serial entrepreneur, is the Startup Manager for Health Foundry - a new collaborative workspace for people using digital technologies to improve health and well being funded by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity.

We have been following Sinead for a few years and her journey in social entrepreneurship and innovation is worth learning from.

Servane Mouazan for Ogunte: You have been pivoting a couple of times in the past few years, could you share what this learning journey has been about?

Sinead Mac Manus: Yes that’s right, I have made quite a few changes in the few years. I’ve never been the sort of person who has had a “career masterplan”. I'd rather go where my interest and energy takes me. In 2010, that energy took me towards the world of social enterprise when I set up two social businesses; 8fold, which was about digital well-being, and the Digital Academy, which trained low income women to be digital outsourcers.

In 2013, I met my co-founder Ian and we started Fluency - a learning platform teaching digital skills to young people and connecting them with work. I’d been hanging out at Google Campus a lot and it inspired me to create my own startup. The learning from those three years was immense! I learned how to raise investment, manage staff and get people on board with our vision. This is very useful for my new role at Health Foundry where I can bring my knowledge of startups and social business to help our members make an impact in the world.

Ogunte: What do you know now that you wished you had known from the beginning and how are you going to use it for Health Foundry?

SMM: I think I have learned that starting a successful business - whether a social enterprise or startup - is incredibly hard and I admire anyone who takes this leap of faith. With all my businesses I have made every mistake going which makes me uniquely placed to help other startups at Health Foundry through this journey.

Health Foundry Office London

The world of startups and especially social entrepreneurs is littered with overwork, bad employment practices and burnout.

Ogunte: What does self-care mean in your line of work?

SMM: I’ve always been pretty good at knowing my limits in terms of work. My philosophy is to work smart and work hard at work and then go do something else, whether that’s taking a yoga class, going to a networking or learning event or just chilling on the sofa with Netflix (my favourite show is Orange is the New Black if you’re asking). The world of startups and especially social entrepreneurs is littered with overwork, bad employment practices and burnout. I’m lucky now to be part of an organisation that values the whole person and puts the well-being of their staff first.

Ogunte: If you were dotted with a large fund to invest with, where would your focus go and who would you surround yourself with to grow this fund?

SMM: There are so many great companies in digital health that are doing really important work and that I would love to invest in. Jackie Hunter, CEO of BenevolentAI spoke at our launch Summit in September. The company is on a mission to shorten the drug development process by using artificial intelligence and machine learning to search large structured and unstructured data sets to find new insights. Really exciting and game changing stuff. I would also take a bet on one of our own founding members, Dr Doctor, whose online, smartphone and advanced text messaging make it easy for patients to manage their appointments and for hospitals to maximise and manage their capacity, in real time. From humble beginnings at Bethnal Green Ventures, their product is now being using across all Guy’s and St Thomas’ directorates with over 4 million appointments being booked per year.

Ogunte: What is your ideal social conference panel in your line of work? 

SMM I would have to have Indy Johar there from 00 as he has a unique way of looking at the world and every time I hear him speak I get a new perspective on seemly intractable social problems.

Another guest would be Sir Sam Everington who has been instrumental in the success of the Bromley by Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets, which runs over more than 100 projects under its roof, supporting the wider determinants of health and serving over 2,000 people every month. The centre is a real-life working example of a systems approach to healthcare in action and Sam is an inspiring individual.

My last panelist would be the amazing Maggie Doyne whom I had the pleasure of meeting at The Do Lectures many years ago. Maggie, at the tender age of 19, started Kopila Valley Children's Home in Nepal and has made an impact on so many children’s lives, and yet remains so humble.

Ogunte: Finally, how does your world look like in 2030?

SMM: Gosh that’s far away! Let’s see. I’ll be in my late fifties by then and hope to be still be working on interesting projects - retiring does not appeal to me. I do have a plan to buy some cheap land in Portugal and build a community with all my friends. Watch this space!

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