Rich Westman, Chief Executive Officer of digital health and wellbeing platform, Kaido, shares what attracted him to Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip Smart City Incubator programme and the positive impact that collaborating with commercial partners has had on his business.
What attracted you to Innovation Birmingham Campus?
I was first introduced to Innovation Birmingham Campus by my father Mick, who had recently retired from his role with British Telecom and was now working as a digital consultant. At the time, I knew very little about technology but knew it possessed the capability to allow me to scale-up my business idea. I am a firm believer in collaboration and e4f posed the perfect opportunity to leverage expertise across multiple fields and access the insight I needed to set up my business.
In addition, I met with David Hardman and listened to his blueprint for the region and following this, I knew we were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the exciting transformation in the area. We are very passionate as a business about keeping to our roots as a business started from Birmingham and Innovation Birmingham Campus provided the platform to do this.
What opportunities has Serendip raised so far for Kaido?
Since joining the Serendip programme, we have worked closely with the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and most recently Barclays; knowing these corporates could open doors for Kaido that would normally take a long time to open. Since moving into iCentrum, we have opened up collaborations with Microsoft, IBM New York, IBM UK and Apple with regard to technology development in the health space.
In addition, we raised our second round match funding with Creative England and have applications running with other similar grants. Most importantly Serendip allowed us to house our team in a state-of-the-art facility, iCentrum – a long way from the coffee shops of Solihull where the business was created!
For you, what are the benefits of collaborative working?
When I worked at Leicester Tigers, my boss there gave me one piece of advice to be successful in the modern world and I believe it was as true then as it is now: to “connect with, listen to and learn from as many different people as possible, because you never know what keys they may hold.” When tackling a problem such as public health and what is an incredibly complex healthcare system, no one business is going to make positive change alone. However together and by leveraging different capabilities, we can make change at a far faster rate. Collaborative working, as a result, is a major benefit for Kaido by allowing us to move faster and be heard more quickly when cash flow is extremely tight.
Ben Buckley, Kaido’s Business Channels Manager, said at the start of this journey: “Why do it yourself when you can walk on the backs of giants”. I believe this to be a huge benefit for any start-up in this increasingly competitive market where the business that gets to market and provides value to the customer, wins.
How you are finding working alongside a commercial partner?
As we move towards the proof of market stage in late 2016, I think we will be able to leverage even more value from the commercial partners as we look to test different markets. I am looking forward to, not only working with partners in the digital health incubator but also the other quarters to really bring the idea of serendipity to life!
The main benefit of working with the WMAHSN has been understanding the problems inside the NHS and the opportunities that decision makers inside the health sector are looking to solve. This has been vitally important in helping Kaido to build a product that there is a real market need for.
Would you encourage other start-ups to join Innovation Birmingham?
I would recommend Innovation Birmingham Campus to any young business with large aspirations. The team are incredibly knowledgeable in their respective spaces and all working to help put companies on the map. I am hoping Kaido can play a small part in giving back to this community over coming years.
For more information on Kaido, visit: http://www.kaido.co.uk