We caught up with Cameron Graham, the founder CEO of StoriiCare as the company undertakes a £300k crowdfunding exercise and asked him to tell us a bit about himself and his background
As a teenager I built websites that earned me over £10,000 before I was 17, but I always wanted to be a Stockbroker. After doing an economics and finance degree at Strathclyde University and interviewing with Investment Banks and Brokers in London, I realised it just wasn’t what I wanted to do.
The concept for StoriiCare was born when I was in a Glasgow hospital ward with Kidney Failure in 2014. I saw an older man struggling with his memory and he was visibly distressed. I found it fascinating to see that when his granddaughter came to visit him, together they looked through photographs of his life, which had a profound effect on his memory and temperament – he was much more comfortable around the nursing staff. When she left, he receded back to his previous state.
I was surprised to learn that there was no go-to product to help carers with life story and reminiscence work in a care setting. As soon as I learnt this, I registered the business, and since then we have grown into a full care management system, that not only allows families to connect with loved ones like never before, but also enables care managers to run a more efficient business.
Si what is it StoriiCare actually does?
We offer an all in one software solution for care providers – StoriiCare.
Our platform includes a range of features, from digital care plans, risk assessments and staff tasks, to music playlists and activities for care recipients. Families and care staff can collaborate from around the world to ensure care provided to their loved ones is truly person-centred.
You make the journey sound easy…From the initial idea to offering a complete software solution, did you follow a plan? How structured was that journey?
It’s certainly not been easy! But it has been enjoyable and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. We learnt that to get anywhere in terms of usability, especially in an tech-wary industry such as the care sector, you need to constantly speak to your customers.
It’s very easy when developing technology to fall into the classic trap of working away and creating something, in full expectation that your users will love and understand every bit of it. It’s rarely the case – you need to test and discuss each new feature with end users (care staff and managers) in order to truly develop and grow as a business.
We do have an overarching structure to our development, but our development was and continues to be very fluid. It has to be in order to respond to client requests and recommendations.
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That sounds like a classic example of having to validate your idea and get customer acceptance. How did you go about learning how to launch your company?
There's no easy way to launch – we ran a soft launch with a limited group of customers in order to develop the platform further. I spoke to contacts through mutual connections that had done so before, who advised us to react very quickly on the back of customer feedback. It's worked quite well for us, so much to the point that StoriiCare wouldn't look and operate as it does today without the feedback we've had from our end users.
So this feedback loop is essential for tech companies to validate their business?
Yes – speak to your customer!
Did you take a structured approach to developing and launching your business?
In terms of taking a structured approach – not initially. I had an incredibly steep learning curve and there were almost too many ‘recommended ways to start a business’. Everyone needs to make their own journey, and make their own mistakes along the way in order to learn.
What challenges have you seen on your journey?
Finding the right people is always difficult, it takes patience, effort and sometimes a lot of money if you use recruiters. It’s key to any businesses success. Without the right people – no matter how good your idea is – you will struggle to get anywhere.
There are of course a huge range of challenges that you encounter almost daily when running a startup, however I wouldn’t enjoy what I was doing if I wasn’t challenged!
Can you give us an idea of a few day to day challenges you have faced recently and how you overcame them?
Part of the challenge of running your own business is delegating tasks! When everything lands at my door as it did this Monday morning, it’s key to have a strong team to fall back on to pass tasks to. Additionally, you have to watch that you are not keeping tasks for yourself that are the ‘enjoyable tasks', they actually may not be that important, or I may not be there best person to do them! One example is sending my CTO instead of myself to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – I would have loved to go but I knew my time was best spent with my team and my customers.
Can you tell us more about raising funding for your development? How did this deal come about?
That particular deal came about through a mutual contact and many meetings thereafter.
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Are you now in a position to fund company growth from cash flow or will you be seeking further injections of cash?
We’re currently raising £500k and not long back from California last month.
How did the trip to California go and any updates on the funding side of things?
Our California trip was exciting, we ended up extending our stay for another 2 weeks after getting interest from VC's. We built up a range of contacts including prospective investors for a Series A round next year and our first US clients – we’re heading back out to set them up with pilots next week. We’ve also just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs.
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How many staff do you now have at Storii and how did the company form? i.e. what positions did you recruit for first then second?
We now have 11 full time staff – I started off by hiring our first two developers who are both still with us today. Finding great staff from the outset is hard to do, but will give you a great foundation to grow from and help build a strong company culture.
So where do you see Storii going from here and what does the future hold for the company development?
Our long term goal ultimately is being the go to and respected brand for care insight and software provision in the sector. We'll grow our base in the UK and expand across the US in the coming 12 months – we’ll go where there’s demand, which right now seems to be across the board!