„Video games are really useful!” – you will tell your parents and grandmother, and confirm your defiant statement with the story of a successful Ukrainian startup Raccoon.Recovery, which simply changes our world for the better! In the second part of the article, the CEO of the company – Svetlana Malevannaya – tells us about the cooperation between the Raccoon.Recovery and MIT Enterprise Forum CEE and shares her own experience of participating in accelerator programs and their impact on the development of a modern startup.
First is the pivot we made in 2018 to test if our gaming controllers can be used for rehabilitation. It was not only the point that helped us to start moving into a more perspective direction but also a good test for the team. You can imagine how stressful it was to change everything – product, market, audience, business model… And we not just did not lose a single teammate; we strengthened and expanded the team.
I would like to mention participation in MIT EF CEE program as one of the most important points. It helped us a lot to start cooperation with PZU Zdrowie. It is quite important for our startup, as healthcare service providers are one of the main stakeholders in the range of our focus markets.
The third one was actually very funny. During one of our first visits to Germany, we rented an apartment on the German website. As far as we didn’t understand German good enough when we came to live in that place we accidentally discovered that… there was a guy living in one of the rooms. We were not going to leave with a stranger and wanted to change the apartment. But there were no options for a fair price, and we stayed. Then we discovered that our roommate was working in a big neurological institute. And at the end of the day that “accident” helped us to make one of the best connections in Germany. And we are now doing a pilot with Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.
We have a lot of plans for 2020! Raccoon.Recovery team will present a solution for an arm in spring and the whole-body solution will be ready for testing in Q4 2020 already. We also plan to start trials for our AI functionality. From a business point of view in 2020, our main goal is to prove startup scalability. For this, we are testing different approaches on several markets and tailoring our business model.
I met Łukasz Owczarek, Head of Acceleration at MIT Enterprise Forum CEE, during Wolves Summit last year. The main thing that was important for Raccoon.Recovery was the possibility to conduct a pilot with PZU Zdrowie, because we wanted to learn how to cooperate with healthcare service providers. And PZU Zdrowie was one of our focus because they are constantly implementing innovative solutions to improve patient service and quality of treatment.
Besides the pilot we valued very much the program of Disciplined Entrepreneurship and, of course, great mentorship. It is not only the acceleration program, but also an inspiring community. We get a lot of help even after the end of program – both from MIT EF CEE and mentors.
Of course, we’ve got valuable insights about the Polish market from mentors. But MIT EF CEE also supported us with contacts of potential partners, contractors, and clients. For example, we’ve found our Community Manager and translation agency with the help of the MIT EF CEE team, while one of our mentors Marcin Kolczynski made introductions to rehab market players.
We already do! We’ve made the introduction of MIT FE CEE to significant players of the startup market in Ukraine to promote this great program. And of course, we share our experience with our friends in the startup community.
Both countries have pros and cons. It’s always easier to create a startup at home if you have a market to test it on. In Poland, there are more funding and acceleration programs that can help a young startup to boost from the beginning. The choice really depends on what you are creating.
Besides MIT EF CEE we are alumni of Startupbootcamp Digital Health Berlin and YC School. All of them are different – the cherry on a cake of MIT is a pilot with a corporate, for Startupbootcamp is that the program was tailored for the Digital Health market in Germany, our first market. YC School gives an understanding of a big quantity of processes startups face on the early stage.
We have already raised from angel investors in CIS our Idea Stage and Pre-Seed round (500K euro), and now we are searching for 1M euro (100K is already done), preferably of smart money from a specialized VC. We are communicating with several VCs in Poland among all. With this money, we will be able to keep to our plan and earn our first million in 2020 already. But more than the money we value connections and experience. It would be great to fundraise from people who can help us with bringing product to different markets, scaling, and tailoring the business model.
Do not be afraid of experiments – in a business model, product, or promotion (but please measure those experiments also!). There is absolutely no way to do innovative business according to classic rules. You will make dozens of mistakes, but there is the only way to create something new, something that will change the rules of a game.