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Meet the Startups in Area 31: e-nlaza

Escrito el 4 Diciembre 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Author: Ana Cuadrado, e-nlaza

e-nlazaFortunately, and thanks to the medical advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment, cancer becomes a chronic condition in only 60% of the cases. Learning to live with the disease is thus a priority for cancer patients and their relatives, who demand a lot of resources and support to deal with the different problems they face in their day by day.

Beyond medical care, the daily challenges faced by a cancer patient are not conveniently addressed. Psychological support is not sufficiently covered by most health-care systems in Europe, patient rights and resources are unclear, body image problems and other therapy side effects arise, etc. Additionally, professionals have problems reaching this audience within a public health system or the charity setting. Practical solutions are scattered and information is dense or not easily accessible.

More than 80% of the Spanish population uses internet to get info about their medical issues. But when looking for these types of answers we rarely find thorough and trustworthy information, let alone clear and of the quality needed. Quite apart from energy and time consuming, these are scarce resources when facing cancer. To make it worse, it can (and often does) cause frustration and fear and rarely solves our needs.

e-nlaza was conceived to fill this gap and to offer both cancer patients and their relatives an online platform that connects them to professionals and to services aimed at improving their quality of life throughout the different phases of disease. It offers an integral service that aims to stand by the strictly medical concerns.

Where did you get the idea to develop e-nlaza?

The idea was developed during a Management Course at IE Business School and was born out of the professional needs and personal experience of some members of the team.

How long have you been working on this idea?

The final pivoting of the idea was done in January 2014; since then we focused in studying our idea next to our target users and potential clients; the collected information was used to design a MVP, with a minimum set of features, providing support and solutions to our users.

How does e-nlaza work?

By coordinating a net of professionals from different disciplines with practical and validated solutions to well identified and wide-spread problems, we expect to provide an ecosystem that works as a communication channel between users and professionals. Within this ecosystem, cancer patients and their closest, wherever they are, will be able to deal with psychological, legal, body image, nutrition, well-being and all sorts of issues known to arise during the journey through cancer. Within enlaza, apart from products and services covering patients needs, users can interact directly with professionals addressing different needs related to physical, esthetical, legal or emotional problems.

By means of video conferences and online events, patients, wherever they may be, will be able to face their fears and doubts, learn to care for themselves and get help to learn to live with cancer.

What is e-nlaza business model?

Our main competitive advantage is a product completely focused on the user (patient and close surroundings), who has free access to the platform. Sustainability is guaranteed by monetising the access to the user base, through the professionals included in the platform, which may have an economical benefit from the interactions with the users:

–          A subscription model for the different professionals (psychologists, lawyers and social workers)

–          e-commerce model for suppliers of goods and services; ideally avoiding publicity

–          Delivery of online workshops, sponsored by CSR of adequate corporations and institutions

What kinds of investors does the company have?

To date, most of the project has been self-financed by the promoting team. Recently, the project won the Social Innovation prize, worth of 10,000 €, in the entrepreneurs competition promoted by Mutua Madrileña, which will hopefully cover most our software and marketing expenses during the MVP testing. We are also working in a crowd-funding campaign as the first funding round of our project.

What are your goals?

Test, Test, Test… Have I already said test?

We have our MVP ready, and will be launched within these days. We are looking forward to test and learn from the interactions between the 15 professionals and the 100 patients that we expect to engage in our platform.

By the second half of 2015, funded by the crowd-funding campaign, we want to keep on investing on product development and create the basis for a professional business structure. Furthermore, our aim is not only to grow our product, but also to expand abroad (e.g. South America, UK, etc) where health systems have similar serious gaps as the Spanish one.Enlaza flyer

In your opinion, what is most important: the market, the product, or the team?

All those elements play an important role. Nevertheless, a committed, focused and coordinated team, will always retrieve better results. Having that in mind, our field work and customer development data has been a priority from the start ensuring that the MVP addresses essential needs of the users and other stakeholders. The MVP was designed to already contemplate most of the feedback collected and deliver the best product to fit the target market.

What are the most excited about the project at the moment?

Start testing the MVP within our platform, getting metrics, learning from the interactions, and creating a final product really adapted to the users and customers real needs.

We are also very excited with the crowdfunding campaign with FundedByMe. Regarding this, we got the collaboration with the illustrator, Miguel Gallardó and two fashion designers, Ana Malababa and Eugenia Cunha. With their help, we are developing an exclusive line of products for all those willing to contribute to our project. We are extremely excited about crowd-funding, as a way to get financed, since we believe it is not only very aligned with the social aim of our project, but also an amazing opportunity to get visible in an international community.

What are the most difficult of entrepreneurship?

Discuss, incubate and finally give birth to our idea has been the most exciting and creative period of the process! Our customer development period was amazing, thanks to the amount of collaborative and proactive people that we met! Very rewarding! However, there is always a gray shadow hoovering over the project which can be disturbing at times and that has to do with team dynamics.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you had the chance?

Clarify from day one team commitment and draft a simple shareholders agreement.

What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?

Be ready to pivot!

Identify your weaknesses and don’t overlook them. Search for partnerships to leverage your ideas; know how to leverage your partners. Go to the street, ask your customers and learn as much as you can get from them. Otherwise, you might be convinced that you have the best product ever… and then realize that no one is interested on it.

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