Jeroen De Backer is the CEO & Founder of Pridiktiv launched in February 2015. Almost 2 and a half years ago, he co-created with stakeholders and key players in the health care sector Into.Care, launched early this spring.
We had the chance to interview Jeroen and get exclusive advice on his successful fundraising:
How did you get the idea and what was the starting point of the project?
The idea came when my dad was at the hospital. I worked for a mobile company and was doing email and stuff on my phone when the nurse came in with a computer on wheels (a rolling table with a huge battery and a computer on top). That’s what I called mobile working in health care. I was like “What is this? It was ancient history…”. I started to discover health care, studied the possibilities, technologies…
And then, we created Into.Care. together with Thomas Van der Auwermeulen, my co-founder. We had a really good product market and researched a lot. We saw that this industry was really open to innovation and ready to embrace new technologies but we needed to tackle their daily burden first: administration, legacy, hardware, software.
In a few words, which services do you provide?
We created a smart and mobile collaboration platform which reduces the administration time and increases the quality of care.
A few weeks ago, Into.Care raised 1.5M. What was your strategy and how did you achieve that goal?
That’s a really hard question! (laugh)
We got to this goal because we persevered, we held on, we kept our eyes on the prize and we focused on what we wanted. It’s only in magazines or tv shows that this company raised X or Y and it all went like a smooth walk in the park. The reality is that it is a real emotional rollercoaster, so you need to be prepared on the business side. Raising funds is VERY time consuming. You need to make sure that your company continues to run and you also need to have a strong business development plan.
Staying focused is really hard so, personally, I have a very good relationship with my wife who coaches me or at least listens. She is a very good, supportive partner. I’m also surrounded by peers sometimes good friends, sometimes family. For instance in my case, it was Pieter Vanermen, CEO of SPiN, a ping pong club in the United States. He is a good supporting partner, somebody who picks you up when stuff goes really bad.
On the business side, you have to make sure you have the numbers right, the right product-market fit, that your business model canvas is validated, run the numbers over and over again and have a proven track record. In our case, having a running pilot was a huge plus.
What do you think is your biggest strength compared to your competitors?
TEAM – we have an incredible team, we are all very complementary that’s a huge win. Secondly, our product-market fit was validated and we had a running product.
What’s the biggest challenge you had to face during the raising of funds?
The biggest…so I think I should pick only one! (laugh)
I think what is very crucial is timing. If you go in for funding too fast or too soon you’ll burn time like hell and people will keep you busy with whatever they want but you’re not focusing on your product anymore. If you’re moving in too late then it might be too late. Keep in mind that getting this financing together took 9 months, that’s very time consuming and the time you put in there is time not spent in your company.
TIMING IS VERY CRUCIAL.
How did you solve this challenge?
In the beginning, as an entrepreneur, as a startup you’re charmed with every proposal you get and you say “yeah, I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that” and you say ok that’s done, that’s it but at the end of the day, very few people do what they say. So figuring out how that works if that’s even possible was one of the first things we had to do.
What’s the mojo that helps you keep going and never let go?
Mobile phone users never settle.
Always persist, never be happy and satisfied / sit down on your ass and relax. It’s always moving forward, moving forward always. Even when stuff goes bad and, believe me, in a startup things can go really really really bad.
Do you have any advice to share to any startups/entrepreneurs that want to raise money?
If you go for money, if you go for an investment, make sure that you have a validated product, that the product-market fit is set and that you have the assumption to prove it and secondly if you go for money make it smart money. I know it sounds cliché and it probably is, but if you are running to take on board investors, these people should be able to open doors you didn’t know even existed, or they should be able to challenge you on stuff you hate or dislike. They need to be able to address the elephant in the room, to tackle issues you would want to close your eyes to.
Any last words?
Well, what I really started to appreciate in this journey is that once you’re in it and people are with you, that’s gratitude. You should be thankful to all people who believe in your project, in what you do, and how you do it, and open to change so thank you very much for that.
And secondly, I think a huge thank you goes out in our case to Nils and Emelie from Co.Station Gent, because we’re a startup and a startup is never something solidly build, it’s very flexible and they spoil us in every possible way just to keep us focusing on our business and not having to worry about other stuff.
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