Our tech start-up of the week is Salaso Health Solutions, an Enterprise Ireland high potential start-up whose product is used to prescribe exercise programmes for people with injuries.
Salaso, which was previously known as SportsClinicPlus, has offices at the Nexus Innovation Centre at the University of Limerick and the Tom Crean Technology Centre in Tralee, Co Kerry.
The company, headed by Aoife Ní Mhuirí, founder and CEO, last week appointed healthcare visionary and founder of Healthbox Nina Nashif as chair of its board of directors.
“Our company is about helping people realise the benefits of prescribed exercises programmes,” Ní Mhuirí explained.
“No matter who you are and whatever kind of pain, ache or injury you suffer from, there is always an exercise that can help. With targeted exercise programmes, you can get yourself better from injury or manage your pains and aches to a level that allows you carry out your daily tasks whether at work, during past-times or in sport.”
She explained how the Salaso software teaches you how to do your physio or GP prescribed exercises properly and turns them into daily habits.
Ní Mhuirí explained that the company is targeting the physiotherapy, sports and corporate wellness markets.
“The current shift in healthcare towards patient empowerment and helping patients to adhere to treatments in order to save costs represents a big opportunity for our company. There is also a realisation that healthcare budgets and services in many countries will not be able to cope with the ever-increasing demands of ageing populations.
“We will form part of the solution to the crisis in healthcare by helping to keep older people fit, healthy and active in the community, not lying in acute hospital beds.”
From left: Aoife Ní Mhuírí, CEO and founder; Nina Nashif, CEO, Healthbox and chairperson; Grainne Barry; company director and Michelle O’Grady; Enterprise Ireland development advisor
Ní Mhuirí is a chartered physiotherapist and worked for many years in clinical practice including 10 years as physiotherapist to the Kerry Senior Football team.
“I lecture on the Health and Leisure Studies programme at the Institute of Technology in Tralee where I first encountered the benefits of video and technology to engage students with course material.
“It was from there that the idea grew to develop a software that would help solve the challenge we have as physiotherapists in clinical practice of getting patients to do their home exercises.
“At Salaso we have a hard working team that are also passionate about the power and value of exercise to improve health and physical wellbeing.”
The company has created a video library of over 1,000 HD exercise videos that are hosted in the cloud and a smart search engine that a physiotherapist or doctor can use to very quickly search the library, find the exercises they want and customise the programme for their patients.
“The patients can watch and follow the videos of their specific exercise programmes via a smartphone app, when at home or away from the clinic, log adherence, rate their progress on goals and report on outcome measures in real-time back to the physiotherapist or doctor in the clinic,” Ní Mhuirí explained.
“The data gathered proves the value and effectiveness of the exercise therapy.”
Ní Mhuirí’s ambition is to prove that by helping patients to do their physiotherapy prescribed exercises, physiotherapy is more effective and should be the first treatment of choice for many injuries and conditions.
“Our vision is to become the world leader in evidence based and data led prescribed exercise software.”
Ní Mhuirí continued: “We are gaining traction in the private physiotherapy market both in Ireland and the UK and hope to double our customer numbers by the end of the year.
“We have pilots running in a number of hospitals both here and in the UK and are starting a clinical trial shortly with Guy’s and St. Thomas’s NHS Hospital in South London. We have had a significant demand from the market for a GP specific product and have just launched a version of the product designed for GPs in the Irish market.”
Focus on revenue
Ní Mhuirí is a realist and has learned some vital lessons along the way. An important lesson was gained when the company began offering free trials, a mistake she has no intention of repeating.
“Free trials. It’s normal practice with software that is sold over the web to give a month or two free to the user. We wasted a lot of time in the initial stages chasing people who signed up for free trials who were too busy to try out the software.
“Once people paid for the software, they committed to using it and came back with excellent feedback and demands to make the product work better.”
She also observes that while it has never been a better time to be a start-up in Ireland, the key as a business is to bring in revenue with a view to generating profits.
“There’s a lot of hype and it’s easy to get carried away doing the tech circuit. You see some companies going from accelerator to accelerator and taking a long time to get a product to market.”
Her advice to other software start-ups: “Stay away from free trials. Get paying customers as soon as you can and start learning how to really make your product work for your customers.”