MindMate: The Atom Collection
Here at BQ, we were inspired by the team at Atom Bank to search out other businesses who are doing things a little differently. Right at the top of our list was MindMate, who’ve taken activities that traditionally needed planning, pens, paper and professional training, and integrated them into a technological solution which caters for the needs of their users.
It was barely eighteen months ago that three Masters students in Glasgow - Susanne Mitschke, Patrick Renner and Rogelio Arellano – pooled their knowledge, their desire to create new things, and their experience of caring for loved ones suffering with dementia and related illnesses, and formed the company that would become MindMate.
"Technology is the heart and soul of MindMate," Patrick tells us. "We are strong believers that technology can change the way how people cope with the condition of dementia"
And it is the very clever use of technology which has secured MindMate a glut of awards and places on not one, but three technology accelerator programmes internationally.
The MindMate app offers a range of games and activities to support and maintain cognitive function in dementia sufferers; valuable activities which would have taken place very infrequently.
Complimenting this, the MyLife section of the app stores a person's information and memories, helping medical professionals to always see the person behind the illness, whilst care can be managed with person-centric diaries, lists and reminders.
"Technology has the potential to enhance the quality of life of the person living with dementia," Patrick adds, "and be a guide and tool for families and carers to provide real person-centered care.
"During our time as carers the tools we used weren’t efficient nor engaging for the person living with the condition. With MindMate we used the latest trends available in mobile development such as cloud technology to build a tool we all needed."
And the development of that tool didn't take place in isolation. The MindMate team knew that a huge amount of rich information about the condition and its management already existed, and recognised the diversity of the userbase they would be catering to.
"We partnered up with various societies, charities & researchers in the UK to get feedback on how such a tool should look," Patrick says. Their prototype was tested by 100 volunteers in summer 2015 and the feedback allowed them to release the app, almost a year ago.
"We still have our group of testers, to get feedback about new features we have and possible improvements."
MindMate have helped 50,000 people in under a year. That huge, impressive number is a subject of great pride for the team, who are pushing on with development of their product and a move into new marketplaces thanks to the Techstars accelerator in New York, which they have just completed.
"Techstars is one of the best accelerator programs in the world, if not the best. For us it was an obvious choice; we are building an international product and the US is by far our biggest market with over 5 million people living with dementia.
"Techstars has so many valuable contacts which enabled us to fast-track our market entry into the US. We just graduated from the program and we have to say, Techstars was the best decision we could have made for the business."
As they build their US operation and fundraise for expansion, the team reflect on the biggest lessons they’ve learned so far:
- Speak to potential customers before you invest time and money in product development
- Build a team early so you can split tasks and be faster on the market. Also, it is much more fun that way!
- Ask for help. There are so many great people out there who want to help you.
Lisa Wood, chief marketing officer at Atom Bank, says we shouldn’t underestimate just what disruption in sectors like this can achieve. "What the team at MindMate have built is truly disruptive and potentially life changing," she said.
"With an aging population, digital tools really are going to be difference-makers in the future, and the speed at which they’ve built to 50,000 users tells us that the market was ready for this kind of innovation. With the Techstars accelerator under their belts, it feels like just the start of something quite special."
Published: 24 November 2016