Tinybots: a new way to remember

At Tinybots, the founders believe in a human-centered approach. They believe having an illness or handicap should not keep someone from living their own life. Everyone faces a challenge from time to time and sometimes the need for clinical care takes over. Tinybots did research with elderly people with dementia and those with acquired brain injuries and discovered their daily needs for cognitive and social support. Their solution: small social robots that remind users of daily tasks, such as eating, brushing their teeth in the morning, and making a grocery list, or preparing them for appointments with family or caregivers.

Founder Wang Long Li tells us: “It is a very difficult problem due to the nature of the illness, the many stakeholders involved and the complex healthcare system, but an important one to be tackled for the good of our future selves. If nothing changes, our future selves won’t be able to provide care for our beloved parents. We decided to take upon this mission. Together with my co-founder, we started a project—building small prototypes to test the application with the target group. We learned by building simple prototypes, and discovered the value of keeping it simple, accessible and human-centered. Our knowledge about both product design and human psychology forged our vision about how a product can contribute to well-being and living a happier life.”

“We applied for the Digital Health program, and from there on it was like a fast train.”

As it’s very difficult to get into the healthcare market, especially in the Netherlands with its complicated system, Rockstart’s Digital Health program helped the startup find the right entry path.

“Rockstart has a great set of mentors,” Wang Long Li said. “We were interested in the network, coaching, and introduction to the right people to get Tinybots on the right track. During the program we developed our business side, re-thought the product. We re-thought the business but also ourselves as a team.”

Once Tinybots was in the program, they experienced working among other entrepreneurs, which according to Li “was very valuable.” We learned a lot from seeing what other entrepreneurs were doing and what struggles they went through. This also helped us to prioritize many steps in building our business.”

“I believe that entrepreneurship is partly about experiences and knowledge, but the most important part is what Rockstart brought, which is to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs.”

During the program, the main change for Tinybots was the focus. At first they wanted to work with different types of robots and instead decided to focus on one robot. Tinybots started out being product-focused and shifted this to a different level.

“Within the program, Rockstart helped to create valuable partnerships with four healthcare organizations in Nijmegen and Arnhem,” Wang Long Li said. “Also the partnership with Health Valley has provided us with more opportunities to stand on the big stages and helped us create more leads for potential partnerships.”

After graduating from the Digital Health accelerator program, Tinybots is facing some new challenges, like building their team with new developers, finding the right candidates, and learning how to scale up the sales process.  

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