1. Why did you found your startup, which problem do you address and how do you solve it?
This project has won several prizes, so we were invited to trade fairs to present our prototype. We quickly noticed that it met with great interest, especially in the medical field – from doctors, physiotherapists and patients.
One of our first steps in the direction of foundation was the participation in competitions. Furthermore, we regularly exhibited at relevant trade fairs to present our product. Then we decided to participate in an accelerator programme for startups in the Netherlands. Our experience was that there is a greater openness to innovation – we were able to carry out initial tests with patients, i.e. under real conditions, in a clinic right from the start. This would not have been possible in Germany because of the strict regulations. In the Accelerator programme, we were also able to deepen our business competencies and focus our business model more strongly. Originally, we had several target markets in mind, but then decided to concentrate on the rehabilitation sector.
2. What gave you the idea to found Cynteract?
We have always been very interested in new technology and followed the development of VR-Headsets. But very soon we realized that it is quite uncomfortable having to use controllers / keyboard and mouse to navigate the programmes. When a friend suffered a stroke, he had to do monotonous exercises to cure his injury. So we decided to find a solution to the problem of motivating especially young people to do their exercises more frequently and with fun. This is the reason we connected our idea with the aim to help young people get their injuries cured in a better way.
3. What is special about your business-model, what are you doing differently?
The focus is on the motivation of the patients for training. With the help of Gamification, patients train with joy and almost forget that they are in rehab. In addition, we offer the therapists the opportunity to follow the progress of the patients during the exercises. It is very important to us that the games, despite their easy to understand concept, still bring a certain challenge for adult users. We develop the games so that they are also fun for us. The portable size of the glove allows patients to train not only in the hospital but also at home.
4. Which were the biggest challenges you needed to overcome in the beginning?
Establishing a healthcare or medtech startup means facing the big challenge of certification. For a medical device, extensive risk assessments and tests have to be carried out. We ourselves have no medical background, so it was not clear to us at the beginning which standards had to be met and how to obtain approval for an electronic product. Unfortunately, even consultations on the regulations for a medical device are difficult to obtain. Together with technical experts, we then explored the market and received assistance with regulations. It was an advantage for us to have exhibited at international trade fairs and events such as “MEDICA” or “REHACARE”.
5. What was the most valuable advice somebody gave you during your foundation phase?
Focus on trade fairs that are relevant for you. Focus on an MVP in the development of the product. Focus on a specific market.
6. What would you recommend other founders?
Networking is absolutely inevitable for a startup, so it makes sense to discuss your idea with other interested parties at events for founders or in co-workings like the “Digital Hubs”. We are also happy to pass on our experience and answer questions personally.
7. Where did you meet?
We have an interdisciplinary structure in order to bundle the necessary competence. The original “Jugend Forscht” team has scattered, but in return Gernot got to know Manuel, who lived in the same building during the studies at RWTH Aachen – as a computer scientist he ideally complements Gernots skills as a mechanical engineer: Manuel is responsible for the software, Gernot for the hardware.
8. Do you have an office cat / dog / turtle…?
Only in the virtual environment. 😀
9. Let’s say you are the Governing Mayor of Aachen for one day, what would you change?
Promotion of startups and barrier-free access with financial support, with test areas, with presence and web advertising.
10. Who would you like to have dinner with and why?
With world makers like Bill Gates or Elon Musk, and on the other side of politics with Angela Merkel, to influence the world together in a positive direction. Because there are many problems to solve for which both sides need to take action.