Startups are a hot topic these days.
In just about every corner of the world, just about every John Doe and Jane Appleseed from just about every walk of life is talking and dreaming about startups. From the 3D-printing to big data; from e-commerce to mobile payments; everyone is chiming in. What is all the fuss about?
MediRevu is a Barbados-based startup aiming to improve post-discharge patient care for persons living with diabetes. The MediRevu platform delivers timely reminders to patients, through a mobile application, which help them to stay on track with medication prescriptions and lifestyle improvements, such as exercise and diet. Patients’ activities are logged in a journal where they can review what they have done and the effectiveness of treatment plans. They may also opt to share their data with healthcare providers and caregivers to report treatment responses remotely. The information shared with healthcare providers is fed to an online portal where doctors and dietitians can get a “live” picture of patients’ conditions.
MediRevu is currently undergoing business acceleration with Jordan-based investment firm Oasis500. Everything we have achieved thus far, and likewise failed to achieve, can be summed up in the answers to the following three questions we repeatedly ask ourselves: “How far are you willing to go for it?, How much are you willing to sacrifice for it? and How long are you willing to fight for it?“
How far are you willing to go for it?
Having been accepted into Oasis500‘s business acceleration programme, we are now 6000 miles away from home, in near to one of the of the world’s most actively violent regions, and surrounded by people who mostly speak a language we do not understand.
The answer to the question “What’s a Barbadian startup doing in Amman, Jordan?” is now all too well rehearsed. It is the first question we have come to expect after every introduction but it is a sure way to raise eyebrows in every conversation.
How much are you willing to sacrifice for it?
Essentially, what happened is a group of people decided to give us a sum of money and said “Use this however you want.” It would be tempting to as whether the Lambo should come before private jet but I’m just being facetious.
“Getters” must give. As a startup, we are held accountable to every dime and every second and how they are spent.
There is also a bigger picture, in that investors do not make investments for the sake of investing; they invest in people more than they invest in the idea. They expect that, as startup founders, we will give nothing less than everything to make sure the fledging company has the very best shot at survival and, even if it does not survive, it is not because we could have done more or tried any harder. Investors invest in passion, blood, sweat and tears – and while we’re at it let’s not forget the lost hair, bitten nails and discarded kitchen sink.
We have to want to succeed even more than our investors want to see us succeed because we are the ones with the talent, the passion and the vision – we think – to produce something of value. Investors simply give us the first push to set us on our way.
How long are you willing to fight for it?
Business acceleration programmes, such as the one MediRevu is involved in, typically last 3-4 months.
In this time we are expected to assess the market, develop a minimal product that meets the demands of the market, gain adoption and complete a laundry list of other items. In a perfect world, this all goes very smoothly.
Now we can skip to the part where we all know that we do not live in a perfect world. It takes a lot to grind out results – the right results. There are lots of no’s, a few maybes and very little yes’ in the beginning but fighting requires having the resoluteness to keep pushing on.
Being a co-founding team is both a blessing and a curse. Having varied backgrounds, skills and opinions add dynamism to the team but can be just as likely to hinder progress and, in if unchecked, result in failure of the company if personalities clash. It is a delicate balancing act and a question we had to answer sooner than later.
It’s both a struggle and an adventure
This only scratches the surface of the experience but these are not the points that typically draw the headlines. Poring over the points above does not paint the picture of a bed made of roses. That, I think, is the biggest takeaway; startup life is not for everyone. It required taking a leap of faith. It required taking the first step while not seeing the entire staircase. It required diving into the pool at the deep end.
Beyond the bumps in the road is where the fantasy begins. If anyone had told us on January 1st, 2014 that we would start a company, receive seed investment and spend 3 months in a Jordan-based accelerator, we would have called the psych ward.
Novelty is the pinnacle of the human experience. New sites, new cultures, new people, new challenges and new experiences make it all worthwhile. The mental and spiritual development that comes along with it is something a price tag can never be put on.
The world becomes a place no longer divided by borders, languages, laws, race or religions. The journey brings with it greater wisdom, clearer understanding, deeper appreciation for the things we have and relaxes the focus on things we don’t have.
Witnessing a dream materialize day by day is both daunting and gratifying, and is as terrifying as it is exhilarating. We still have a long way to go and there are still many questions we have to answer about our business and about ourselves but this is just the beginning.