Since being announced as successfully coming first place in our very first Impact Accelerator programme in July and securing £50k of investment, we’ll find out how Alice Appleton and Jonathan Abeles feel about securing invaluable funding and mentoring opportunities to propel their visionary project forward.
But that’s not all! Joining the conversation is also the driving force behind the programme, and Impact Accelerator Director, Scott Stonham. He’ll share insights into why Appdate Medical stood out amongst the incredibly tough competition, and explain why he believes in accelerating pioneering projects like theirs.
So come with us as we deep dive into the team’s incredible journey, and be inspired by Alice and Jon’s innovative spirit.
Did you know?
Jon and Alice are both working doctors and met in their first year of training in Bristol after graduating. Alice is a GP trainee and Jon works as a Flight Doctor, repatriating unwell patients back to the UK. They have both agreed to get Appdate tattoos when (if!) they make their first profit. The location of the tattoo is still under negotiation...
The idea for Appdate was conceived over a beer in Kings Street, Bristol. We were running out of good conversation, so turned to our own experiences as doctors and the day-to-day inefficiencies we faced. Top of that list for both of us, was the incredibly dated and unfair way in which the wards interact with patient families. Aside from patients, we recognise that families and next of kin are also going through some of the most stressful experiences of their lives.
Despite this, healthcare providers are just too stretched and often forced to prioritise direct clinical care over keeping families updated. Families are left out of the loop and in the dark about their loved one. We strongly believe communication is the heart of healthcare, and technology is the way to facilitate it. By streamlining the process of updating relatives we believe we can improve families’ connection to the wards, while reducing the burden on healthcare teams.
We came to the Impact Accelerator rather by chance. We had approached ASquared for development services and were referred to their Impact Accelerator. From day one of meeting the lovely Scott and Karolina, we were made to feel welcome and inspired to take our business to the next stage. No ask was too much and no question was too basic.
We benefitted hugely from the wealth of expertise provided by ASquared and their partners. We were connected with our amazing mentor, Fiona Sweny, who used her incredibly relevant experience in health tech to help us transform and refine our business and our pitch. We made use of the excellent perks on offer and now have ongoing contracts with several of them, including Acumen Business Law and Crypto Concepts Accounting. Our business has grown more than we could have imagined in the last few months and ASquared was integral to this.
The funding show was unique in that we were pitching to such a diverse audience; made up of the general public, investors, ASquared, and our Accelerator mentors. We worked hard to produce a pitch that catered for all. The Accelerator and Fiona, our mentor, worked hard with us to perfect a presentation that captured the required detail, while not alienating any part of the audience. We produced regular pitch videos on Slack and in return gathered excellent feedback.
Ultimately, we believe the problem we are trying to solve is relevant to everyone, regardless of background. Most people have had a relative in hospital, or been there themselves. This is a problem that is difficult to escape. ASquared helped us capture this in a short pitch that really communicated what we are trying to do.
Our biggest problem so far is that we are non-tech founders starting a tech company, however we come with in-depth experience of the problem and the industry. We were caught for months in a cycle; we had no funding in which to build our product, yet capturing investors’ attention without a product was proving incredibly difficult.
By investing in early stage companies, and giving start-ups a platform, ASquared have helped us to break out of that cycle. Through the Accelerator, we have also been able to really think about how to incorporate impact into our business from an early stage. Accounting for these improvements to our product, we now consider it a good thing that we had to wait!
It has evolved a huge amount. We came to the accelerator with an extensive list of features that we thought would be brilliant. Our mentor, Fiona, encouraged us to ‘slow down’ and go back to basics: to identify the key problem we wanted to solve and build from the ground up. We were able to halve our build costs by streamlining the workflow and cutting out unnecessary features, without compromising on our value proposition.
Our vision is to transform the relationship between healthcare facilities and the general public. By increasing the amount of updates and improving the channels of communication, we want to facilitate open dialogue and break the wall that surrounds healthcare facilities. We never want a family member to feel left behind when their relative enters the hospital.
As doctors, we are fully aware of the pressure on healthcare staff. We want to significantly reduce this burden, by streamlining this workflow and reducing the time it takes to maintain contact with families. Appdate can provide the best of both worlds, where relatives are updated, but staff also have more time to spend on direct care of their patients.
In some ways Appdate was a selfish venture - we wanted to streamline our own working day and save ourselves time. We also wanted to reduce complaints that healthcare teams often receive. Having developed the concept, we have come to realise the importance of our venture for families, not just healthcare staff.
During our research, we were really shocked and saddened to hear some truly mortifying examples of the system failing families. Numerous worried patient relatives (as they were at the time) were not told where their loved one was or how they were doing. They worried sometimes if they were even alive. We are motivated by the impact that we know Appdate can have if we get this right. We don’t want anyone left in the dark, particularly during the most vulnerable moments of their lives.
We are working hard to get the product designed and built. We know we have a challenge ahead to create a secure, GDPR-compliant, user-friendly product that offers value to healthcare, patients, and relatives. Our next six months will be spent in research and development; building and iterating our product. We will also spend time ensuring stringent information governance and GDPR compliance. We will test our product and encourage early adoption in smaller healthcare settings.
We are extremely excited to get this product off the ground and really hope to have it in the public domain soon. We really hope we can make the impact we believe is possible.
Before I answer that, I want to say that to even make it to the Funding Show is an incredible achievement, all five startups who made it to the final had done a tremendous job. We had more than 80 applications into the accelerator programme, with 12 being invited to join. So to be in the top five was an accomplishment in its own right.
During the night of the Funding Show, I watched the votes stream in live. It was close, but as we reached the end of the voting Appdate was clearly in the lead. So what made them stand out? I think it was a combination of factors.
Firstly, there was the human element. The problem they are solving is so relatable to so many people. Many of us have experienced the anguish and frustration that Jon and Alice described as they presented Appdate. From a credibility standpoint, they appeared in their doctor's scrubs, and presented themselves as having deep and personal experience of the challenges they hope to solve with their solution.
Secondly, the solution they presented was truly compelling, had been clearly thought through, the images of the product looked great, and they had already achieved some important milestones that demonstrated viability and market-fit. Additionally, the data points they presented and the financial elements were convincing, adding weight to their argument. Lastly, when put under pressure with some challenging questions from our panel, they answered confidently and knowledgeably. Congratulations team!
No matter where you look - from local communities to global - there are so many pressing challenges that need urgent attention. We feel it is our duty to apply our collective resources to accelerate positive impacts in the world, at scale. The Impact Accelerator is designed with that ambition in mind, for inspiring impact entrepreneurs just like Alice and Jon.
All of us at ASquared send you our very best wishes, and we can’t wait to continue to be part of your journey and see what Appdate can achieve!
p.s. The Impact Accelerator is coming back for round two soon. Offering even more support, more opportunities, more value and most importantly, more impact. The programme is tailor-made for high-potential, entrepreneurial, purpose-led UK start-ups who are using business as a force for good. If this sounds like you, follow us over on LinkedIn to keep up to date