How to approach big ideas with Ayda, the Irish startup developing wearable fertility tech.
James Foody, Ayda CEO
A lot of people have had a big idea at some point in their lives. Some may potentially have world changing ideas. But if you don’t know the first thing about business, these ideas may seem too expensive to even think about pursuing.
However we speak to Joe Tugwell, product architect behind Ayda, the Irish tech company developing new wearable fertility technology about how the company went from a few friends in Ireland to securing $600,000 in funding for the new Ayda fertility band.
“The fundamental idea behind Ayda is to provide a means to empower people so that they can make smarter decisions for their body,” Joe tells us.
“Both the Ayda app and wearable can help women conceive by predicting fertile days. The wearable “listens” to changes in a woman’s hormones over time and the Ayda app can process this information to make accurate predictions for the best times to conceive.”
As with any business, developing a hardware startup comes with its challenges. Challenges that Joe is all too familiar with. It is the thought of potential issues like these that may discourage many from taking the first step in launching their own startup. Ayda is the second hardware startup that Joe has worked on and has found it comes with the same challenges as he has encountered in the past.
“Challenges we have seen have been the same as those that most hardware start-ups face; slow iteration of prototypes due to component lead times, things returning from electronics manufacturing mysteriously not working and taking weeks to investigate etc. Hardware is hard!”
The best medicine for this is perseverance and good financial management. As the saying goes, ‘time is money.’ In 2015, Ayda secured a place on Highway1, a coveted accelerator program in Silicon Valley which helped when it came to many of the team’s startup issues.
“Highway1 was a lot of fun but being put in the same place as 9 other startups, all creating hardware has a huge benefit. Somebody in the room has had the problems in the past that you are having now and will have in the future… Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, work hard and seek advice wherever possible”.
On the subject of Silicon Valley, we discuss its contrasts with Ireland in light of the dubbing of Dublin’s Grand Central Docks as ‘Silicon Docks’.
“The Valley is a very different place than Ireland. There is no frame of reference for the funding environment there. For example, there is an entire ecosystem of angel funding for seed rounds in the Valley. Conversely, there is no such thing as a ‘friends and family round’ in Ireland!”
“Ireland has been incredibly supportive of us. I believe Ireland is really important in terms of startups. The two fundamental building blocks required for startups are great people and support. Ireland has a lot of both.
“We just need to get faster at supporting Irish startups early on. Many government supports exist but availing of them can take a lot of time and in order to become more competitive on a global scale and this needs to change.”
So the big question; how do you approach a big idea from scratch? Joe Tugwell tells us the first steps of bringing your idea to fruition.
“Start with a prototype. Even if it is just a model. A prototype is worth a thousand meetings. Objects communicate so much more to people and help people understand and buy into what your vision.
“Thus far we have raised seed funding of a little over $600,000. It was secured by our CEO, James Foody by curating a fundraising process in San Francisco. Ayda has secured strategic investment thus far from one super angel investor and ob/gyns who wish to provide Ayda to their clients.
And finally, when asked what the secret to Ayda’s success was so far? Joe simply replies, “Perseverance. My team.”
Joe Tugwell’s Startup Tips;
- The two fundamental building blocks required for startups are great people and support.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, work hard and seek advice wherever possible.
- Most importantly stay positive – it can be difficult but if you approach it with the right attitude you will be learning every single day.
Interview: Joe Tugwell by Joe ManGone