GyroGear is developing wearable technology that can improve quality of life for people who suffer from hand tremors, such as those with Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor and has recently received €1.8m through the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, which supports ground-breaking ideas for products, services or processes with the potential to create entirely new markets or revolutionise existing ones.
Faii came up with the idea for the GyroGlove, the first GyroGear product, while studying Medicine at Imperial. He was caring for a 103-year-old woman who was becoming increasingly frail and struggling to feed herself due to hand tremors.
Faii entered the Venture Catalyst Challenge in 2014 and has utilised the support and facilities on offer at Imperial ever since. “The Venture Catalyst Challenge provided valuable coaching for us. This too was useful in shaping the parameters of the business and our pitch.”
“We also worked at the Advanced Hackspace in the early days of the company. This provided significant breathing room for the company, especially as we had to get things organised as an early-stage team.” Faii also used the Advanced Hackspace to build the first prototype of the GyroGlove. Since then the product has been tested and adapted and Faii is now looking to manufacture the device and get to market.
Being part of the Enterprise Lab community has helped GyroGear gain exposure and also allowed him to connect with advisors and team members. Faii was also invited by the Enterprise Lab to represent Imperial at the World Economic Forum and the Falling Walls Venture. “The Enterprise Lab has an extensive network within and outside of the college. Students would be hard pressed to find a better student innovations department in the UK.”
“The team actually want to help. This is reflected in the events, conversations, support that they provide. They genuinely want to see you succeed.”
Faii describes GyroGears successes as:
- A refusal to rush any decision. Our strategy and general development plan has remained the same since day one despite constant diligence in rechecking and revising. This supports focus and impact. Carefully selecting the GyroGlove idea, defining the problem and potential solutions, and the rigourous decisions, prior to founding, has enabled efficiency in development and avoided the majority of risks inherent to a niche medical device startup. We have more energy to focus on what matters rather than the various distractions.
- Hiring a great team that cares, is curious and constantly strives for impact and excellence with every step. Swiftly removing any team member, regardless of seniority, if they place self ahead of customer and team. Again, this ensures we work very closely as a team, to the point where we can rapidly anticipate each other’s needs and provide relevant, needful support.
- Focusing strictly on the customer and his needs. We have built a considerable user base, even whilst on stealth. The customer determines how to develop the product and the direction the company takes. His needs, and the value GyroGear brings, need to align throughout the existence of the company. The personal relationships have brought multiple opportunities to GyroGear as a company. Being able to help people individually, see with our own eyes the effect our products have, and apply the experience we have, makes every day meaningful.
And the challenges have been:
- Hiring the wrong fits. Even after carefully screening and selection from a wide pool, not everyone is perfect. The trial periods and constant interaction are meant to support always. But not everyone is able to rise up to challenges and keep pace. This is also compounded by rapid acceleration through different phases of growth in the company, where varying skillsets and experience is required. Each person will only be a fit for certain parts of the company’s growth, however long or short. Lastly, experience does not always equate with meaningful output. In fact, extensive experiences and learned behaviour often gets in the way of working things out from first principles
- Consultants are great where needed. Do not allow them to overcharge. Do not allow management of consultants to be worth more than the premium you pay them. Ensure you have a clear contract always, before commencing any work, detailed hour logging, and clear billable objectives. This will minimise, but not eliminate, pain, during the odd occasion the relationship goes sour. Even with the best efforts and diligence, we still face issues e.g. work not delivered, consultant absconds etc.
- Ensure your accountant, accounting system and your bank all work together seamlessly. This is a big ask in a country such as the UK, but it will cause increased tedium in a short time. Even a small delay in reconciling, filing, etc adds up to backlog. It costs significant time, effort and salary to clear said backlog. The number of transactions and invoices of even a small team will grow exponentially especially with a startup. We joke the only thing scaling faster than a startup is the paperwork. Basic standards, organisation and process hygiene matter.
These are the biggest set-backs we face. Yes, they are inherent to most companies and organisations. We believe it is the manner in which we identify, assess and solve these issues that is the key.
Faii’s advice to students is, “do it because you care. Because you want to solve a problem. Because you want to deliver something of value to the world, society, a certain group, family and/or those around you.
“Do not do it for the recognition, because everyone is doing it, or simply trying to boost the CV. Many students do this and assume they are entrepreneurial. A university course is short, even for those reading medicine. It is great to fail, but be relentless in your learning and impact. Be your own startup – grow your own value daily, and be relentless in your execution. Box-ticking is unfortunately the direct opposite.”