Having come from a research-oriented background, we initially thought that our idea had to undergo significant modifications before taking on a market-friendly form. For that reason, our original idea for creating a dementia-screening product based on the algorithm that we developed was put aside in favour of a concept that would be more suitable for several kinds of mass markets. However, our participation in the YouStartIt program allowed us to have close interaction with mentors and advisers, whose years of business experience helped us crystalize our vision.
While our product did go through a painstaking process of analysis with the goal of making it more market-friendly, we realized that our ambition to tackle the issue of early screening for dementia, however daunting, was going to be more fruitful and have a greater impact on the society. As scientists, we recognized that, although acquiring business and marketing skills was absolutely necessary, we did not want to ‘cheapen’ our vision for the promise of faster and relatively easier market entry. We have always singled out our scientific background as our greatest strength.
With that in mind, after exhaustive counselling from the side of mentors and advisors provided by MITA, we decided to focus on the bigger picture – early screening for dementia – one that we had initially fostered. This pivot has yielded successful results on several fronts of our business development; we managed to receive the prestigious SME grant from the European Union (€50.000), which means a great deal to us due to its emphasis on social impact. On top of that, we received a €95.000 grant from Rockstart Netherlands and have thus entered an important business partnership in Western Europe. In addition, we negotiated a generous loan with Malta Enterprise, which will allow us to work, employ people, and stimulate the local industry of medical technology in Malta. Our achievements in the last nine months led to our startup being formally evaluated at €1.6 million.