Putting Tech to Good Use with Arin Sime (Engineering ’97, M.S. in MIT ’10)

March 22, 2019

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Arin Sime

Arin Sime has a long history of developing software, founding companies—and as with his latest venture—applying his experience to create a positive impact.

Serving as CEO for AgilityFeat Inc., which he first launched as a development company in 2010, the undertaking has taken him throughout North and South America, where he’s built a strong team culture despite managing geographically diverse teams. Sime notes that as technologies have quickly changed throughout the years, AgilityFeat has evolved to keep pace. And as part of that evolution, he also founded two additional companies: WebRTC.ventures and UniWellness Care.

The former, a design and development firm, creates custom web and mobile applications using the WebRTC (web real-time communication) standard. The latter, UniWellness Care, a telehealth solution, aims to provide college students with greater access to mental health resources—and relies on the technology from WebRTC.

We recently spoke with Sime about his companies’ achievements, what excites him most about his work, and how McIntire helped prepare him for the many challenges he faces today.

What led you to create UniWellness Care? How did you come to discover that there was a critical need among young adults for easily accessible mental health care?
One of our colleagues lost her son to suicide in college two years ago, and all of us on the team have family members who have been affected by mental health concerns. I began to study the issue more and learned that nearly half of young adults face depression and anxiety during their college careers. As a parent of teenagers myself, I was alarmed to see how widespread the mental health crisis is. We realized that we could apply our years of experience building live video solutions to create a telehealth platform that would help college counseling centers to better connect with their students and expand their reach. Our software allows the therapist to meet with students remotely over a secure video connection, and we provide functionality around the video call to help students manage their appointments and follow up on action items given to them by their therapist.

What’s been the greatest challenge thus far in reaching UniWellness Care’s goals?
We are still very much a startup, so proving our business model and value proposition is the most important task for us now. The tech industry is ahead of medical licensing and insurance reimbursement laws, which are still piecemeal around the United States and don’t provide an easy way for mental health professionals to work across state lines. The laws are changing though, and so we’re well positioned to grow as the legal landscape improves and further encourages telehealth solutions.

With WebRTC.ventures, you’re integrating live video with web and mobile apps that UniWellness is using for doctors who provide telehealth services, right? How much crossover has there been between the two initiatives you’ve founded, and how do they inform each other?
There is a lot of crossover at this point. The technical expertise we’ve developed over the years at WebRTC.ventures means that UniWellness has very little technical risk—we know how to build secure video solutions for healthcare and already have experience doing that for a variety of use cases. That allows us to focus on the business challenges of UniWellness without worrying as much if the technology will work.

What are some other successes you’ve had with WebRTC.ventures?
One of our clients just launched TrainWith, which is an iOS application that allows personal trainers to livestream their classes to students around the world. You can sign up for prerecorded fitness classes or join a live class where the camera and microphone on your iPhone are turned on and your video is shared with the personal trainer. This allows students to join fitness classes from home but still have the personal interaction and motivation that come from working with a personal trainer. Our team has provided all of the design and development of this application.

We’ve also built interactive broadcasting solutions that have been used by Major League Baseball and Fox Sports to host online sports shows where fans can ask questions of their sports idols live and join the show remotely.

What do you see as the future of WebRTC?
WebRTC video is already becoming ubiquitous since Google first started the video standard in 2012, and it’s used daily by millions in video apps developed by Google, Facebook, and many others. Our team at WebRTC.ventures has become one of the world’s leading integrators of WebRTC video into custom solutions, and we see that niche continuing to grow dramatically in coming years, especially in industry verticals like healthcare and online education.

You have many responsibilities, but what part of your career excites you most?
Earlier in my career, my favorite thing was always working with a new client, hearing their product idea, and being the technical person who could bring their dream to reality. That was very rewarding to me and the reason I got into engineering to start with. Now as my responsibilities have grown, I don’t do the technical side anymore, but I do take tremendous pride in seeing how our team has grown into that same role of bringing someone’s vision to reality. Learning how to grow and lead technical organizations that can accomplish so much more than I could individually has been very exciting for me.

How did McIntire’s M.S. in MIT Program help prepare you for any of the work you’ve done with UniWellness Care, WebRTC.ventures, or AgilityFeat Inc.?
My experience at McIntire has had a tremendous impact on my career. The discussions of global IT made me realize that at that point in my career, international experience was one of the biggest things missing on my personal resume. I definitely wanted to change that, but wouldn’t have known how or had the confidence to try before McIntire. The financial management, leadership, and strategy skills I learned in the M.S. in MIT Program gave me the confidence to expand my career beyond the United States and are the cornerstone of everything I’ve learned since then.

What stays with you most from your time in the M.S. in MIT Program?
I’m a much better team player and leader than I was before the M.S. in MIT Program. Part of developing my skills and confidence as a technical business leader was also learning how to draw the best out of my teammates. All of those late-night phone calls and project deadlines helped me learn when to assert myself as a leader in a team and when it’s better to focus on collaboration and let ideas emerge from the group.

What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in 2019 with the businesses you’ve founded?
I’m looking forward to seeing UniWellness be adopted by multiple universities and to become a part of helping young adults get the mental health care they need before they reach a crisis point. Building great technology is satisfying by itself, but I’m looking forward to this opportunity with my latest business to directly impact people’s lives.