Rip It Up, Start Again have partnered with Disruptive.Live to bring you disruptor stories from some of the most exciting startups. Hosted by Lulu Laidlaw-Smith, this televised event includes a series of five-minute overview and backstory from entrepreneurs followed by an interactive Q&A. At the end of the episode, viewers get to vote for which startup they would invest in. Check out The Poll page to vote!
SPEAKER #1 Emily Forbes | Seenit
For Emily, her story-telling journey began where many stories come to life — in the exciting world of film production. After graduating from arts school in film, she began working for Working Title as a member of their production teams, having the chance to work on feature and documentary films around the world. It wasn’t until she packed up and moved to South Africa to work on a documentary that she realised story-telling and film could have an entirely different relationship then what she was used to. She decided to try her hand at some solo filmmaking, taking the skills and tools from her experience with a big crew to an anti-rhino poaching protest in South Africa. As she set up her camera and mic, she realised that everyone there was already doing exactly what she wanted to do — they were filming from their own smartphones and Go-Pros, capturing the events from a seemingly endless degree of angles of perspectives. Rather than film other people filming, Emily took her idea outside the box. At the heart of any good story is community, and its also at the helm of telling it. Quickly, she decided to run around the protest gathering the footage already taken by the onlookers, explaining that she would edit everything and create something bigger than them all; a chance to collaborate in a large-scale way that would make their message stronger than ever. Within a short few days, she was suddenly involved in a community that reached across the entire country, gaining access to the footage of people that were passionate and opinionated, and wanted to work together to tell stories as loudly as possible. In a leap of faith, she moved everything back to London in hopes of exploring her community-based production idea further. She went to car races and music festivals, and would walk around exchanging phone charging for film footage — gathering content to create her own stories of the events that were entirely collaborative. She then sold the footage to the events, explaining that it was produced using her tech which powered the collaborative message. And that was the beginning of Seenit. She took her plan to the Collider Accelerator, where she gained the guidance and mentorship she needed to fully create the business she envisioned, and it took off. Seenit allows people to become their own mobile production team, giving them the tools they need to collaborate remotely and then seamlessly edit in-app to create unique and creative visual stories. Seenit has shown Emily that people, generally, are kind, that community is key, and that bravery is needed when embarking on the next chapter of your own story. Find out more at https://seenit.io/.
SPEAKER #2 Nina Skorytchenko | Avenna
Nina moved from Russia to London thirteen years ago and began a successful career in the finance industry. However, she never felt that she was truly living out her passions — finding ways to bring healthcare to the public. Looking around her, Nina saw that healthcare needed to be personalized but also affordable, giving everyone the chance to be the healthiest versions of themselves. Realizing that she had to make a leap of faith from finance into health sciences, she started her first company, Wellcode Life, a B2C health and wellness company that examines the personal health needs of an individual, with a large focus being put on their genetics. Wellcode analyses a person’s genetic makeup, using that science to determine exactly what the person needs to achieve their health goals — whether it’s to lose weight, or to tackle hereditary diseases potentially coming their way. And while Wellcode opened a door for Nina in regard to health and wellness tech, she also felt that something was missing; maybe genetics wasn’t the only path to be explored when it came to personal health. Lifestyle, family history, personal history, and current health status were all things Nina realised played a role in an individual’s health plan. Out of this came Avenna, Nina’s second company, being the B2B perspective of her personalized healthcare vision. Avenna focuses on precision medicine, specifically preventative healthcare for chronic diseases, and works closely not only with individuals seeking personalised wellness systems, but also with healthcare professionals seeking additional in-depth, customisable healthcare tools for their patients. Nina believes that the current healthcare model needs to be changed and that she is just a part of the disruption that is sure to be coming — and it will shake things up for the better. Through Avenna, she envisions a world where people can take charge of their own health and together, with the community of people trying to enact change, can reshape the national healthcare system. Find out more at https://avenna.com/.
On problems solved...
Emily Forbes: “Today, traditional communication, traditional video, just isn’t resonating sometimes when its from big brands in the way that it used to, you know, big companies would do one massive campaign a year and that’s all they needed to shout, and it was broadcast out one way. Now what’s come in, you know, so important, is to have conversations and for it to conversational as a storytelling format. What Seenit does, is we really enable organizations around the world to scale and change the way they produce video by engaging their own employees, their own customers, to actually become their content creators. It’s kind of like being able to build a mobile phone crew but if the people who are the most passionate and most knowledgeable about the subject or situation. So our technology — it’s in two parts — there’s an online studio and then a video capture app. You can push the app to whoever you want to invite into your film crew, they respond to different filming challenges, so you can direct them, and then everything gets uploaded to the studio where it’s gone through the correct rights management system, it’s analyzed and tagged automatically through AI and ML, so it’s all searchable as soon as it arrives in the studio, and then our customers can log in and very easily review, edit and share the content out online. What it means is that companies who potentially used to just create video in their headquarters because it’s where they have the equipment or budget now are actually able to collect stories and voices and opinions from people all over the world.”
Nina Skorytchenko: “The biggest problem which we solve and how these two companies [Wellcode and Avenna] are connected is really preventative healthcare. So when you look at the lifestyle of the individual and when you’re looking at the chronic disease prevention, the biggest thing which you can do for yourself is to understand what works for you, what’s the best and optimal nutrition for you, and then really to make these optimal changes before the chronic disease starts happening. But yeah, the biggest problem we’re trying to solve is the epidemic of chronic diseases, and that comes from two angles: one is the biotechnology and science in Avenna, and the second one is really making people change their lives and lifestyle, and really to be more accountable for their own health. I think accountability and empowering of individuals is super important.”
Emily Forbes: “We’re in a trust crisis, I think actually. Definitely in video and content and comms, and fake news. Trust is so important and I think with Seenit actually what we enable is more trusted content because you’re collecting from different perspectives, more people, not the same senior execs or the same influences that are now losing trust. I mean the influencer space is, it’s massively grown but then what’s interesting is it’s the micro-influencers now that are having the biggest impact because they’re trusted. There’s not a, you know, hashtag ad or a big influencer that’s promoting a product. People don’t believe it anymore. So if you can open up who you’re creating with and who you’re putting at the front of your message and it’s genuinely authentic because they genuinely care that’s why you’ve reached out to create with them, you’re going to resonate so much more with what you’re trying to say.”
Nina Skorychenko: “I think people have to just trust themselves, that they know the best…for us, it’s basically giving the individual the choices which they can have and then I think it’s very important, the trust bit, of course, they trust us with their blood tests, and very sensitive information which of course we have all of the means to protect. However, what is really important is once an individual is trusting that you really can help them, then it all changes, and their health is like this placebo effect, this mind shift.”
Emily Forbes: “I think the validation for us was, you know, people willing to pay, willing to pay repeatedly. There are a lot of people who will pilot things, especially in big businesses. They’ll have budget five, ten grand to pilot an idea, this is big businesses, and the real thing is you know, great to get that, but is it actually going to be long-term relationships, long-term revenue. So for us we evolved actually from a power project pricing into a subscription, so it’s a SaaS business now, B2B SaaS, then the validation is are you growing the customers, are you upselling, are you renewing? The difficult thing with SaaS is if it’s a yearly contract, sometimes it can take a year for you to really have the conversation for you to then learn, well, is it going to continue or not? You don’t have a year to validate, so it’s getting in those touch points at every single possible moment and actually building relationships, especially with your early customers, from the beginning where you’re saying are you getting value and you’re not nervous to ask those questions because of the relationship, and there’s the trust there. So you can say, are you getting value, is this what you expected? Set what success looks like together, upfront.”
Nina Skorytchenko: “I think where the validation is coming from, for us, it was very surprising because usually when you work with medics and clinicians, and I completely understand because in healthcare it’s not a joke, you know, you can’t…mistakes can be fatal, you know, so really you have to be very, very careful of what you’re advising and this trust building is super important because it actually has to be also backed by science…You have to be very personal and you know, you have to be very clear of explaining but then also have this science check, have this medical check. For Avenna, it was quite surprising because we’re really disrupting the model so it’s going from the sick care, how it is now, so effectively you go to the doctor, you say you don’t feel well, they check your blood, they check everything, [and say] ‘Come back when you’re sick’ because they literally don’t detect unless you have a disease, they don’t start treating you until you have a disease. So this is a huge paradigm shift that has to be done so from sick care to personalised, preventative health care, which is an individual taking step before."
On scaling up…
Emily Forbes: “One of the reasons that we’re, for example, reviewing the pricing model is so that we can lower the barrier to entry to scale within our existing customers, so scale is at the forefront of everything that we’re thinking right now in terms of kind of discipline that’s across sales, customer success, and product. We are now expanding to New York, which I really exciting. There’s such a kind of like, do you, don’t you, when do you, moment, but we were actually kind of being pulled there by customers. So that was a really good validation again for us to kind of suss out the market in quite a low-risk way. Four of our biggest customers are over there now, as well as in London, too.”
Nina Skorytchenko: “So for the Wellcode Life, what we realised, we’ve been running this concept for four and a half years but it was more, I would say, mobile and also online, so when the customers come they will collect their samples, they will then upload it in one platform and then they will come for consultations, which we were renting the rooms out so that was also working well in terms of the cost reduction. However, recently I have become super passionate about this idea of having a space and the space where each individual can come in and it doesn’t matter what your budget. So let’s say you’re walking down the Oxford Street, and a lot of people are now wearing the Fitbits and the Apple watches, and what would be the best value for them is just to come into the shop and upload it, and all their heart rate variability expressed on the big screen and showing them some trends, so something you can do which is just analysis of your data but give people some insight. What I realised, and all this personalised health care, is lots of people have lots of data point, but what they don’t really have is what do they do with this data?”
Emily Forbes: “I think for us, it’s about getting our message out there, I mean we now need to set the scale, we now need to get our product out there as fast and wide as possible. We have created some unbelievable stories, or our customers have, on the platform and they just need to be shouted about and promoted way more than they have been. We have no marketing team, we’ve done this with no marketing, which we now massively need to do, so for us it’s really, really looking at scale and collecting more stories for more people around the world and to be able to do that, that’s why we’re investing in this new product to just open up the collaborative storytelling.”
Nina Skorytchenko: “I spoke about the Wellcode and the clinic concept, but for Avenna as well, what’s really fundamental right now is for us also to find the right strategic partnerships and what’s happening there. We did launch our first test for the clinicians, we’re also working with the scientists and with the other collaborators in order to launch this preventative solutions for inflammatory bowel disease. So what is also very important as to finding the disruptive models of how do you get this product out, how do you make it scaleable?”