MindMate – how it all started

Find part one here and part two here. Plus, download their app for iPad and iPhone or Android Tablet.

The last month of Techstars has begun. Our focus now is on fundraising. We are preparing to become better fundraisers through mock-investor meetings, term-sheet workshops, pitching workshops and how to get people committed to the round. Let the games begin!

Our story

As the founders of MindMate, we often get a surprise reaction when people find out what we are doing. “You are helping people with Alzheimer’s? Why? You are all so young?”.

The reason why we are doing what we are doing is a personal one: Roger, our CTO cared in total for seven years for his grandfather with Alzheimer’s. This time was very hard for the whole family – they would have needed a tool to engage him, to keep his mind active, despite the disease. Patrick and I both volunteered in care centres, and had experience with people in very late stages of Alzheimer’s.

With MindMate, our aims are clear:

We want to make people with Alzheimer’s more independent;

We want to improve the caring process, and;

We want to give family-members a greater peace of mind.

Turning an idea into reality

When we first had the idea of MindMate, we immediately started talking to people, to get feedback. We applied to entrepreneurship competitions, like the Scottish Institute for Enterprise’s Young Innovators Challenge, Converge Challenge, Santander Universities Challenge and so on.

With this early support and feedback, we were able to build MindMate’s foundation. And who knew that we are one year later at Techstars NYC – ranked the second best best start-up accelerator in the world!

The programme, from which we clearly benefitted the most is Enterprise Campus. This is a programme specifically for postgraduate students, which offers training, workshops, networking opportunities, and also money! It helps young entrepreneurs to create traction and not have to worry too much about bills, such as a small marketing spend, or the cost of a trademark.

Glasgow University also supported us a lot with free office space. For us, the office was a crucial point in our early days – this is where the magic happened.

Without all these programmes, MindMate would not be where we are now, and we are very grateful to have had these opportunities. And, I truly believe that this is something special about Scotland.

Early traction

I believe that the success of MindMate comes mainly from the fact that we worked from day one with people that live with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We have a focus group of 15 people; and we still work very closely with them. These people helped us to test our Alpha, and Beta Version until we opened it up to another 100 people.

These early users from all over the UK helped us to detect bugs, get the design right and create an acceptable user experience. As soon as these people were happy, we opened MindMate to the public.

In the meantime, we have several ten thousands of users, the NHS Trust Greater Glasgow & Clyde picked up MindMate, and we are being used in several care facilities in the UK and USA.

Even though we now have good traction, we are not done growing and developing our product. Our growth, and product development is aggressive, and this is only possible through pure dedication, passion and hard work.

Susanne Mitschke is chief executive of MindMate.