First Startup Experience
HomeClinico has been the first project I’ve actually tried that had a business model defined. You can check a detailed description on my Portfolio page.
Let me guide you through what I’ve experienced getting my hands dirty with the word “startup”.
Also, you can check it out here:
Primož and I were coworkers in Outfit7 for about 3 months before he left the company and moved to Austria, which was around December 2020. I got a ring from him in March 2021, just when COVID-19 started in Slovenia, if I would want to help him out with a project of his.
At that time I didn’t have any other important stuff going on, so I said what the heck and joined him.
The project was his completed Master Thesis which he wanted to transform into a startup of its own. It was an arm exercising app with a mobile application and a 3D-printed handle attached to the phone with a magnet. To me it sounded something that might be useful for the current COVID-19 situation and Primož had the same thoughts.
The iOS part was half of a MVP; it had 3 games and 4-part user assessment feature, but it didn’t look as nice and wasn’t very user-friendly.
We then had to make a few iterations of features, most of which we later on scratched.
One that sticked was a Therapy feature which was basically a pill-and-exercise daily reminder. You could create a new reminder and assign which days and hours of the day you need to take a pill or perform an exercise, basically a task. On another screen you would have a list of these daily tasks that need to be done.
This wasn’t that cool as we wanted to connect this feature to the already created games.
So the idea of guided exercises feature was born in Primož’s head. The main thing was to automatically guide the user through his daily Therapy within the app. Exercises were the games provided by the app itself and they could be highly configurable in terms of:
- choosing which games to include into the Therapy
- number of game repetitions
- game duration
- game difficulty
Each person could also have different saved Therapies; a morning routine versus an evening routine.
As we both were engineers, no one was actually an expert in the field in which we have been solving the problem. This was a lesson learned on my side; whatever problem you’re solving, you should have someone on your team that knows the field.
Thus we sought help in professionals:
- our main advisor was the president of Slovenian neurophysiotherapy
- we presented the product to 10-15 physiotherapists and occupational therapists in Celje hospital and asked for feedback
After these kind of meetings, we iterated the product again a bit and fixed the stuff we got from them.
We did a few iterations with our medical advisor, so the games would not proven to be invalid or, god forbid, harmful to the end user.
We’ve also listened to all kinds of internet advice and actually did what they told us; go out there and try to sell it.
So we did. We went to Slovenian post-stroke patient meetup in Celje and did a live presentation of HomeClinico and how it can help them.
We didn’t have an official product yet, but we did have a video and a prototype at our disposal. The official product could be preordered.
3 elderly ladies asked us for a “test drive” and we gave them 1 month for free testing.
These ladies weren’t that much serious in buying the product, but provided valuable feedback with which we again refined the product. They were actually our first three users to use the product in their home without our help.
After their use, we sent them a survey with some basic questions, just so we could get a bigger picture about the usage.
Our First Customer
In around August 2021 we had a presentation via Zoom and the video was being recorded. None of the participants was interested in HomeClinico….. BUT after 1 month we got one person emailing us. She said that she saw our video presentation and that she would be interested in our product for her 40 year-old husband.
They were the first customer of HomeClinico. I presented the product in their home and made occasional visits once a month. After a 3 month usage, they were delighted with our product, gave valuable feedback and said they can hardly wait for new games and features to come.
Austrian Startup Weekend
In October we also participated in a weekend startup acceleration program Startup Vienna Live organised by zero21 team in Vienna, Austria.
Amongst 13 teams we were in top 5 teams that were awarded with the 3 month acceleration program zero21, with the final demo day pitches to actual investors happening in March 2022.
The Great Resignation
Since I’ve been working in my first official job for 6 years already, I forced myself to change by quiting. It wasn’t solely connected to HomeClinico, but it was a desire of change.
I resigned in mid September 2021 and have been working on HomeClinico full time for about 4 months, without any income. I just got an apartment with cheap rent and had quite a lot of runway on my bank account, plus no kids or mortgage yet.
After I went full time into HomClinico, I was in charge of:
- Android development
- website and its performance
- video editing
- customer support
- partner communications
- live presentations to groups and potential users across the state
- representative of the company in an accelerator program
I’ve also accumulated a huge list of Slovenian physiotherapists that work with post-stroke patients and cold emailed them.
A few answered and were interested in the product.
We had new customers in November and December 2021:
- 2 institutions (elderly home and school for people with disabilities)
- 2 physiotherapists
Quite some feedback was gathered from them and we hope to cooperate with them even more.
In January 2022 we had our first Android release, which you can check out here:
For the release I had to quickly integrate:
- subscription logic
- database for progress monitoring in the future releases
- Google Analytics
- 3D-printed handle purchasing through the website
Currently there are no installs yet, but no one yet knows about the release. Need to start marketing that part a bit.
Being part of this has been great with constant ups and downs. The biggest issue is we know nothing about business and we need to get someone on our side to take care of that.
I’ve learned so much and not starting this out, I’d regret it.
I had to overcome my inner introvert and do live presentations, talk about complete strangers and selling something I made. Absolutely amazing feeling when someone buys something you made with your own two hands.
More about the stuff I learned, can be seen on my Portfolio HomeClinico description.