Written by Samantha Costanzo Carleton
Colleagues and friends had often remarked on Raman Saggu’s entrepreneurial streak, but she didn’t give those comments much thought until a chance encounter at a friend’s birthday party.
Up until then, she had focused solely on an academic career. A British neuroscientist with a D.Phil. in Medical Sciences from the University of Oxford, Saggu specializes in ultra high-field neuroimaging of models of stroke, cerebral malaria, vascular dementia, healthy aging, and Alzheimer’s. She set up the most powerful MRI scanner available in Germany, developed her own neuroimaging and analysis methods, and identified novel bioimaging markers in search of more targeted treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Venturing into entrepreneurship had hardly crossed her mind.
 At the birthday party, though, Saggu found herself seated next to an impressive female entrepreneur who told her about the MIT-Harvard Medical School Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp. If there was ever a place to dive into the world of startups, Saggu reasoned, this one sounded perfect.

“I hoped to have a crash course in entrepreneurship that would give me a realistic experience of this world that was new to me,” she said. “I understood that if I was going to dip my toe into the water, I needed a robust and intensive program that I could trust would give me a reliable indication of whether or not this was something I had potential in.”
When Saggu arrived at Bootcamp in June 2019, it seemed that every other attendee had some form of entrepreneurial or business-related experience. Soon, though, she gained her own experience. Morning lectures from world-class entrepreneurs were filled with information and inspiration, and Saggu was pleasantly surprised by how readily she absorbed the principles and frameworks taught. Her afternoon workshops with Erdin Beshimov, the founder and director of MIT Bootcamps, broadened her mind and led her to light-bulb moments.
“His approachability and enthusiasm were par to none,” Saggu said of Beshimov’s teaching style. “The overt confidence he demonstrated in our capabilities and potentials as individual Bootcamp members was incredibly humbling and motivating at the same time.”
Armed with this motivation, Saggu and her team worked day and night to bring their ideas to life. Though sleep and time were in short supply, she describes the entire experience as “a delight” that taught her as much about herself as it did about entrepreneurship, including a knack for persuasive pitching.
Currently based in Germany but recently recruited to Harvard, Saggu continues to work with her Bootcamp team to tackle the healthcare issues they set out to solve together.
“We are working on an integrated solution to assess, monitor, and address medical resident burnout,” Saggu said. “It’s a huge problem in the US, with five out of 10 residents reporting burnout and one physician committing suicide every day.”
She and her teammates were well aware of the issue: Dr. Denis Schapira Wajman and Dr. Tobias Bobinger were residents themselves; Helena Paterson, CEO of NuMe TMS Clinics, had experience in treating mental health; and Saggu had spent significant time in the medical sciences. Based all over the world, the team’s next steps in addressing the problem of burnout involve conducting further market research and developing a minimal viable product.

L to R: Raman Saggu, D.Phil., British Neuroscientist based in Germany, ultra high-field neuroimaging of neurodegenerative diseases specialist; Helena Paterson, CEO of US-based NuMe TMS Clinics, TMS specialist; Dr Denis Schapira Wajman, Brazilian Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist, CEO and Co-Founder of US-based e-Bio and Dr Tobias Bobinger, Neurologist based in Germany, stroke specialist

“It’s enriching to have this additional side to my work and goals that I could not have imagined having before the Bootcamp,” she said.
The Bootcamp opened up an entirely new world for Saggu, then gave her the opportunity to seamlessly attach it to her current passions and goals. Knowing the program could do the same for others, she encourages people who may not think they’re completely qualified but are excited by the prospect of entrepreneurship to apply.
“The Bootcamp admissions team know well the character strengths and qualities they are looking for in candidates,” she said. “Leave them to judge your application, not yourself. Don’t give up or give in to doubt.”