Meet the Startups in Area 31: Pupilum

Escrito el 18 febrero 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

pupilumAuthors: Fernando Dal Re & Cristina Barranco

The fields of medicine and science never stop moving forward, and neither should health care professionals. Continuous medical education (CME) is the tool doctors and other healthcare professionals use in order to stay up to date in their specialties.

But CME faces two main problems:

  1. Up to 95% of all the CME activities are held offline, requiring health care professionals to invest too much time and effort to stay updated on their profession.
  2. Offline courses are expensive, and this is the reason why CME has become too reliant on industry funding, tending to narrow the focus on the products and to neglect provisions of a broader education on areas not covered by pharmaceutical products.

At Pupilum, we believe that health care professionals should be able to choose the CME they need, and to enroll in these activities investing less time and money.

That is why we launched Pupilum in September 2013. Pupilum is a learning platform that offers online CME courses, taught by experts in all medical fields at a discount of up to 80% of the cost of offline alternatives.

Where did you get the idea?

Before launching Pupilum we had created Neomed, the largest social network for doctors in Spain. In our conversations with doctors we found a common complaint which was the rising cost of CME in both money and time. We decided to learn more about the topic and found that 95% of the market was still offline and there was a non served huge demand for online alternatives.

How long have you been working on the idea?

The first courses started in September 2013. We had conceived the idea at the beginning of 2013 but it wasn’t until the summer when we decided to build it.

How does the business work?

It’s a 4 step process:

  1. We discover education necessities among healthcare professionals and group the demand for those necessities.
  2. We then locate and partner with expert teams in those medical fields and create a course that addresses that need.
  3. We send the course for accreditation to national entities so that the courses help the students to meet the requirements for maintenance of licensure, membership in professional societies and other professional privileges.
  4. When the course is accredited, we sell it online at a discount of up to 80% of the usual price.

What is the business model?

We sell the courses we create to doctors, nurses, psychologists and other healthcare professionals.

What kind of investors does the company have?

Founders, family and friends have funded the company so far. We also received a loan from ENISA and are now closing our Seed Series.

What is the stage of the project now?

We have launched 9 courses so far and more than 800 healthcare professionals are taking part of them.

What have you learned from your experience as entrepreneurs?

We learnt that you must find product/market fit as fast as possible, and then scale and grow even faster!

What are you most excited about the product?

We are receiving great reviews by both educators and learners, and as a result of those reviews, word of mouth is spreading and we are growing fast. That’s something to be proud of, and also something to always keep working hard on.

What are the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur?

There isn’t a single one. It feels like having a very difficult problem to solve, only to find right after it another problem to solve even bigger that the one before. But at the end of the day, you make progress by solving those problems, and when you look back you can see that those difficulties are gone and that the positive results of the hard work remain.

In your opinion, what are the most important personality traits to be a successful entrepreneur?

You need to be an excellent salesman, as you will always be selling your vision, your product and even your company…

And then you need to be resilient, because if one thing is true is that this path we chose is an emotional roller coaster!

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

If I had no further info, I’d probably go back and do everything the exact same way…only faster! Speed is key in this business.

What new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plan?

A sell never happens spontaneously, it requires a very well defined process and execution. The sooner you find the best process and the faster you execute it, the better for the company.

What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?

I’d like to give three:

– Dedicate significant time to self assess if you are up to all the hard work you will put and all the setbacks you will suffer. If you are ready…go for it, and do it fast.

– Spend very little time on the business plan compared to what you invest in talking to prospective customers.

– Have I said already that you need to go fast? 😉


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