From sofa to start-up

3 Jun

I’ve been asked to write a guest blog for the Cambridge Accelerator Program about my journey so far, so I decided to write it here first, as it’s where I feel natural writing about this kind of stuff.

So “From sofa to start-up”

It was a year ago, two days from today that I decided to quit my job as a Research Scientists and jump into the unknown. I had a passion, an idea, and if I do say so myself, a hell of a lot of balls. I had always admired my Dad (a Physicist) for being able to take ideas out of his head, make them, test them, and make them useful. I wanted to do the same, but in a different arena.

I began my entrepreneurial journey with three ‘awesome’ ideas..they would all be ground-breaking. I would have them made perfectly first go round with some of the best professionals working alongside me for free because they believed in my ideas. Of course, in mere seconds after my products were released into the market, people would forget everything about civilised society and give up any forms of reason just to get their hands on my products!

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…I was very fortunate to be knocked down to reality relatively quickly by those who I now respect thoroughly. I was told to concentrate on one of my ideas, get a team, and get on with making something, instead of getting drunk and telling everyone I was already giving tips to Bill Gates in my time off.

The idea I decided to put all of my concentration into was an app – a gamified app that could help people suffering from mild-moderate anxiety/depression. I found a Designer and a Programmer who could make the app, and would be willing to come in for sweat equity. I found a counsellor who liked the idea and would give us advice on how to make this a successful tool. I decided I would make it a game where the user controlled an animal avatar and found out information and practiced therapeutic exercises, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness. It would be amazing, and we would call it ‘Life Pets’.

Why would this be amazing? Because I said it would.

It was at this point that I was welcomed onto the Cambridge Accelerator Program. I was offered mentorship, seminars on business and entrepreneurship, and potential seed grant funding later on. The Director, Hanadi Jabado, had me immediately test what I had of my concept with potential users. Those I interviewed – mainly counsellors, mental health professionals, and contacts I knew had suffered from depression – provided the feedback I didn’t want to hear. They thought it seemed good, but they wouldn’t use it, because it seemed too childish and complicated. It was the feedback I had needed to hear – that I’d been creating the concept just for myself, and not my future customers.

Over the last nine months I have continually developed my concept and tested it, getting bigger every time. At the start I used concept art of some of the important screens, and walk the user through the app journey. Now, I am beta testing my prototype on iphone, and thanks to the incredible feedback I got from this I am able to create my first product that I will be putting on the iTunes store for the public revel in.

In between the time I joined the accelerator and now a lot has changed. I’ve lost and gained team members, faced rejections and difficult feedback. I’ve rebranded to Remap, and pivoted around so many times I feel like a ballerina. I’ve celebrated in the smallest details, and always got up one more time than I’ve fallen down. 

Now, in one month’s time I will have my first product in the market. Remap – A gamified app that integrates therapeutic concepts to help users to track and develop their mental well-being through a series of engaging and interactive exercises.

I’ve gained support from the London Institute of Psychiatry, Mindtech (NHS), and a group of sixty counsellors in the Cambridgeshire areas. 

It may not become an overnight success, but I will learn from each attempt, and every time it will get better.

Sometime, like many of those around me I have doubted what I am doing, and wondered if my vision has been worth a year of my life, and however long in the future. Once I’ve had a cup of tea, I can always, unreservedly say yes.

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The vision I created a year ago has taken me on a journey I did not expect. Those who have shared my vision and passion for entrepreneurship, social impact, and following a dream, have helped me to gain incredible skills.

These skills I can use to progress my app further.  I will have these skills with me to help bring my future ideas into a reality, and I will use these insights and abilities to inspire those around me to strive and to succeed in whatever way suits them.

I’m extremely thankful to my incredible mentors, the Cambridge Accelerator Program, all of my dedicated beta testers, and everyone who has played their hand in keeping this going. I look forward to getting your review on iTunes in a month!

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One Response to “From sofa to start-up”

  1. jari65 June 3, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on Jari65 Blog.

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