FindAir - the story of success
During infoShare 2017 we held 2 contests for startups. The first one – Digital Health Hackathon – focused on one industry and the second one – Startup Contest – open for all industries. FindAir, a startup from Cracow, won both.
During infoShare 2017 we held 2 contests for startups. The first one – Digital Health Hackathon* – focused on one industry and the second one – Startup Contest – open to all industries. FindAir, a startup from Cracow, won both. We are talking to Tomasz Mikosz, a co-founder and Head of Business in FindAir.
Agnieszka Meller, infoShare: Tomasz, tell us what is FindAir and where did you get the idea. Was it your own experience or did something else start the process?
Tomasz Mikosz: To put it in the simplest words, FindAir is a company which creates intelligent solutions that support people who suffer from asthma. Our solutions are based on connecting a physical device with a mobile application and dedicated machine learning algorithms. We have 3 products in our portfolio: mobile application „FindAir – Astma pod kontrolą” („FindAir – Asthma under control”), „FindAir ONE” – an intelligent overlay for a classic metered dose inhaler, and a completely new inhaler model „FindAir Inhaler”.
Going back to the very beginning (a year before FindAir was created), we started to notice the problems that people with asthma have to deal with. Some of our family members and friends had such problems so we saw it in the everyday life. We have always been up-to-date with technology so we knew that most of the problems could be solved. This is how we started to work on the FindAir products. We wanted to solve a problem and we knew that we can.
AM: Other startups, also from abroad, offer solutions for asthmatic people too. How are you different? How do you plan to make it big (in the business sense)?
TM: We’re perfectionists and treat every problem in detail, from the very basis. What makes us unique is the fact that we’re creating devices for the patient. They are meant to help people in their everyday struggle with the disease, not only 2-3 times a year during their visit at the doctor’s office. Of course, it is valuable for the doctor to have information about the application of medications and the circumstances so we make it possible to share data as a medical report. However understanding one’s disease and improving the quality of life on a daily basis are the things we care most about. We believe that this is the recipe for a long-time success.
AM: What stage are you at now? What do you plan to achieve by the end of 2017 and in the next year?
TM: The first product that is going to be introduced on the market will be FindAir ONE. Both the formal procedures and industrialization of hardware solutions are time-consuming but it should available soon. I mean by the first half of 2018.
We also knew that regardless of the production realities people already need something that would help them. This is why we released the „FindAir – Astma pod kontrolą” application on May 2nd, the World Asthma Day. It is available for free on Google Play for Android phones. It’s a win-win situation. Our users have a free tool to help them control their asthma better. On the other hand, we are in contact with them and receive feedback telling us what we should improve or add.
The next year is about large-scale entrance onto Polish market with the FindAir ONE device. There’s a lot of work ahead of us in order to make it available for everyone interested.
AM: Medical products for independent use are fraught with high risk of human mistake. How do you plan to protect yourself against that?
TM: From the legal point of view it takes a lot of work but then again it is not rocket science. Our device will be officially certified as a medical product in accordance with all the CEE standards before it enters the market. So it will be prepared as any other medical product that is already available. We also work on additional solutions which improve the safety and intuition of FindAir products.
AM: You took part in the Startupbootcamp accelerator in Berlin focused on digital health. Was it needed and were your expectations met? A few Polish startups qualified for this year’s edition. Some probably think about applying in the future, so every advice is precious.
TM: First all let me congratulate everybody that got selected for this year. It’s something to be proud about. Many people from Poland and abroad have contacted us asking about our impressions even before the winners were announced. We always say that Startupbootcamp is a good and well-known accelerator which will be surely helpful for startups at their early stage, but for those who have something more than just an idea.
That acceleration program was very fruitful for us at that point in time. We had a chance to present and verify our idea with several hundred of specialists from different areas. In the end, during the Demo Day, we got a lot of exposure and gathered many investor contacts which pay off until now. What’s more, thanks to the unique atmosphere we worked very hard but also extremely effective. In about 3 months we managed to achieve as much as you usually do in a year, at least. Up to this day, we are trying to maintain the same standard.
AM: What do you think about taking part in startup events? Is it handy?
TM: It seems that the startup community grows intensively in all big cities of Poland. I had an opportunity to experience that in Gdansk and Cracow where the communities are very vibrant and supportive. However, we don’t participate in events just because we are a part of the community. We always have defined goals and we try to do everything to achieve them. For sure, infoShare 2017 was one of the most useful events. We gathered valuable contacts, got all-Poland exposure in media and won prizes, which helped us move forward a lot. And of course, we were able to start serious talks with Black Pearls VC.
AM: What is it like to be a startup in Poland? Do you see any pros and cons?
TM: I feel that in Poland the access to capital is very good. If you have a good team and a good idea you will find money easily. It’s a bit worse with using the occasion and bureaucracy. Most capital is connected with public funding so the process is time-consuming. You can lose the first move, advantage or even a chance to secure intellectual property. What is more, many Polish VCs have limited experience in scaling companies abroad. They can offer less help than foreign VCs. To cut it short: it might be easy here for a startup that starts in Poland but it might be in for a rough time when it wants to conquer the world. At least that is my impression now.
AM: Do you participate in contests often? What is the biggest challenge for you?
TM: Thanks to our victories at infoShare we limited our participation in startup contests in Poland. We have achieved everything that we need at this stage in the area of exposure and financial support. Sometimes we take part in contests abroad but at the moment we have other priorities.
AM: What is your everyday work like? Where do you get the energy and enthusiasm?
TM: It’s just as any other job: you go to the office in the morning and go home in the evening. We also don’t have any problem with the enthusiasm. Every one of us is very ambitious and wants to create something really good. Additionally, we feel a kind of social obligation. We promised to improve people’s lives with our solutions. Many people count on us. We can’t fail.
AM: Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? :)
TM: In all countries of EU ;)
*INNOLABS – For leveraging cross capacity building between ICT, Health, BIO and Medicine sectors for new emerging industries in personalized health – the project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691556.
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