By Kelvin Summoogum, Founder of miiCare
Bringing a scientific product to market is undoubtedly a challenging business. Having the idea is a good start but only the beginning of the story. Let me share what I’ve learned from my experience of the journey from great idea, via hard work to launching a product in the market.
Testing the product idea
Is your idea a breakthrough one? Are there any similar solutions out there? Is it actually possible to create? And, is it truly something people want or need? Research is needed to find out.
My idea stemmed from an industry I was already deeply involved in. This meant I had been speaking to and learning the needs of my potential customers -older people, on a daily basis. It became clear there was a gap between what older people needed and the solutions being produced. That’s what triggered the idea for miiCare.
Meet members of your target market, discuss their needs and challenges. Floating your idea to them is essential to understanding your market viability.
Building and funding your technology
As health tech was already a passionate interest, I started to dabble with the miiCare and the system eventually began to take shape. However, I realised it had to become a business, rather than a hobby, which forced me to set priorities.
Starting from the ground up, you find you need to invest a lot of your own money. Every investment has to be stretched, so you’ll need to learn how to tap into existing resources creatively.
I enrolled onto a PhD, which gave me an office, access to information, resources and PhD students eager to get involved. This meant that I was able to bounce ideas off like-minded people and find some future team members and other allies.
It’s worth keeping an eye on existing components that could save you a lot of time. I considered designing miiCare’s sensors from scratch, then realised that mass-produced sensors were already available and cheaper to use in the long run.
Such decisions can minimise your R&D cycle, reducing the time and money needed to get your product to market.
Production and marketing costs can be heavy. Fortunately, there are more funding sources than ever, especially if you have a proven concept and have completed your R&D. Consider crowdfunding.
Testing the product
When building your idea, it’s crucial to keep your end users in mind. Remember to regularly ask yourself, and ideally check with your potential customers, whether they will actually be able to use it.
While our code is written to allow the AI to react to various use cases, testing the product with the elderly introduced new incidents and behaviours that the AI tech couldn’t yet predict, meaning that the model would fail if we didn’t fix them.
Ultimately, you should constantly remind yourself of your purpose, maintain a strong level of discipline, set key milestones and engage with end users throughout the process.
Launching the product
There comes a time when you have to get the project out there just to get money in. You need to set some very strict disciplines and establish what your MVP needs to achieve and stop when you hit that stage. You’ll then be ready to push the project to the market and with the income generated, roll out updates. At miiCare, we make sure to involve our users, investors and other non-techie individuals in that process – they see things differently and it is wise to follow their advice.
And finally, when you file your patent application, it’s important to be very careful who you ask for help. You’ll want to ensure that they sign an NDA, in case they’re working with a potential competitor or have the potential to leak ideas – accidentally or not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelvin Summoogum, Founder and CEO of miiCare, a tech start-up which uses an innovative AI-based solution to give elderly people the choice to live independently in their own homes.
It mimics some of the human basic senses to create situational awareness and understand the health of a person, meaning that panic buttons or pendants are no longer required.
Summoogum lost his grandmother from a hip fracture, following a fall at home. Help was only provided the next morning after hours spent in pain and agony.
Often dubbed ‘the Amazon Echo for the elderly’, miiCare uses miiCUBE, an AI-powered assistive technology solution, which links with an ecosystem of sensors, wearable devices and telehealth equipment.
As well as monitoring movement and the use of appliances, miiCare records the vitals of users – allowing for the early depiction of illnesses – acts as a voice-activated home security and entertainment system and is even linked to a call centre of health professionals.