We are developing a low-cost, smart diagnostic tool for diagnosing parasitic worms. Billions of people, primarily living in marginalised communities, suffer from parasitic worms and do not have access to diangostics.
We met in Tokyo in March 2018 on the IC Global Fellows Programme titled “Eradicating Poverty”. As part of the Global Fellows Programme in Japan, we were asked to come up with solutions to help eradicate poverty. The idea is a combination of our research – Kai works on imaging, whereas I work on parasitic worms. We did not think to make this a business until about three months after thinking of the idea.
Enterprise Lab support
The Enterprise Lab has supported us in every step of this journey. When we first joined the VCC, we really just had an idea and had played around with prototyping. The Elab guided us in the development of our idea, what to focus on, how to talk to customers, and how to build a business (which we definitely did not know very much about). All sessions have been very useful. The IP session with Dario clarified if our product had an IP, business coaching sessions with Janet gave us focus, and the numerous pitch practices with Camille, Ben and external coaches allowed us to build a professional pitch. We have really valued the honest input from the Enterprise Lab.
We currently have two business advisors that we met through the VCC programme. We also have a scientific advisor that is part of my research group.
We are in the prototyping stage and are preparing for our first trial in Tanzania. We are also competing in another competition to potentially secure more funding.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Join a program like VCC – there is so much you can learn in just a few weeks, and this will definitely transform the way you go about building your business idea.
Also – I would suggest going at a pace that suits you. It is tempting to jump right into it, you don’t want others to develop your idea faster than you etc. We have taken things relatively slowly (as we are both also busy with PhDs), and have had to said no to opportunities that we felt were too early for us. But other opportunities have now come up when we actually are ready.