Speakset, our Fellowship Year
8 August 2015 - Ewan Marshall

The End of the FellowShip – What a Year!

What a crazy ride the last year has been! In this post marking the end of the fellowship, I would like to take you on a no holds barred journey through our year.

When Impact Hub selected www.speakset.com as part of the Fellowship for Longer Lives the business was a different beast! We had just one customer and ten people using a hacked together system! We were just starting to learn about the problems facing the UKs healthcare system and had no idea that shortly we would be fixing them. More frighteningly, we were running out of both money and time! It felt like a classic startup story of screeching to a juddering halt.

Finally, our luck came together and we were accepted onto the programme. We buckled down, reevaluated where the business was and what we were good at. We decided to take the plunge, pivot away from consumers and into the healthcare market! Perhaps we were mad. People kept telling us horror stories about working in a slow and broken healthcare market. The need was just so huge we could not ignore the opportunity. Suddenly, we were connecting more than just families but doctors and nurses as well. We had to go out and learn about clinicians needs and how SpeakSet could work in this new use case. I am glad to say that 12 months on we seem to be getting close. Just last month a prospective customer said “The mind boggles. I’ve been waiting for this for 10 years. I get calls about telemedicine every other day but it’s not interesting… Until you put it on a TV” – Validation does not get much more clear than that!

Once we had understood our new users and re-engineered the product, we started running trials. Finally, satisfied with the new product and with healthcare organisations rolling in we had to actually be able to deliver a product. Pesky customers right! :p

Just after Christmas, when it was dark, cold and wet we rolled up our sleeves and turned Matt’s living room into a factory! With seven people placing components, soldering and testing it only took 3 mind-numbing weeks to build. We could have done this at our manufacturers but by doing it ourselves, by hand, we shaved a month off our delivery date. This meant we could deliver early and start to show great results quicker. We try to go all out to make sure our customers are getting the best possible experience across the board. Whether that is on a patient, user or even the commissioners side. It’s hard work but well worth it.

After that horrendous period of winter work it was time to make everything scaleable. We built a manufacturing line in China, redesigned our software platform, created beautiful packaging and polished the installation experience.

Through this experience we were joined by some new faces. One of those faces over has talked to over 2000 care organisations over the last six months. He is learning about how they would use SpeakSet and where we can deliver real value. What a trooper! Understanding this landscape is key to building a fantastic product. Thanks Alex!

Now we are delivering a polished and scalable product to care providers all over the country and speakset.com seems very different to when we started the programme. What a year!