Can three people with full time jobs build a startup with traction, from nothing, in four months? We have done and if the three statements below resonate with you, maybe you could too.
The three key statements that marked out the beginning of our journey boil down to: I’m frustrated in what I’m doing; I want to work with energising people; and I want to learn at pace.
Vesalian is a company that builds communication aids for doctors. We provide intuitively designed summaries of the benefits and risks of various medical treatments, to facilitate conversations with patients, with greater confidence and satisfaction.
But just four months ago, we had no product, no money - nothing at all, except our passion, our skills and our ambition. We were just three frustrated people, who wanted to work together to identify and solve the most important challenges in healthcare. That’s why we founded Vesalian.
Now we’re testing our new product with real doctors and patients. To see what we’re doing and get involved in testing it out, you can sign-up here.
Below, I’ve outlined how three key statements shaped our rapid growth from zero to traction in four months.
“I’m frustrated by problems and I have a passion to improve, innovate and create new things.”
When I encountered a problem working as a family doctor - the difficulty I had explaining evidence for treatment benefits and risks to patients - I just couldn’t let it go. I wanted to know if my colleagues shared my frustrations.
Through open-ended interviews and some book research we learned that communication about risk and evidence is one of the most pressing problems faced on a daily basis by all healthcare professionals.
So if you can’t accept that whatever’s bugging you couldn’t be better, you’re probably on the right track, especially if lots of people share that frustration!
“I know there are people that I enjoy working with, and who inspire me to do better.”
My co-founders, Toby McMaster and Siobhan Botwright, are people I’ve worked with before in a highly successful team. When I approached them with my problem, they were the ones prepared to listen and discuss solutions. I get a real buzz from working with smart, motivated people I can trust.
Maybe you don’t need to have a team in place already but knowing what kind of people you will be thrilled to share your vision and journey with is a great starting point.
“I want to learn loads, fast, from great mentors - and I’m prepared to fail as part of that.”
Our first step towards creating value in a meaningful way was applying to the accelerator run by HS. We knew we would need experienced mentors, a network of like-minded people and a lot of objective feedback.
Through weekly check-ins, pitching events and continuing support, HS. helped us plan on a week by week basis, provided structure for our vision and our approach to growth and facilitated introductions and pitches with lots of potentially valuable collaborators and customers.
Every step of the way since getting started, we’ve failed fast, learned with our mentors what went wrong and what to change. And that’s what’s brought us to the point of having a well-designed product to test. It wasn’t knowing what to do already, it was learning what to do as we went along.
David Neal is a practicing doctor and CEO at Vesalian. He has a background in behavioural science and has previously worked at the World Health Organization, Polygeia and Healthwatch Cambridgeshire.