Building apps to help the elderly – Alistair Cohen

Alistair is the CEO at OnCare.

After working at the printing company Moo, Alistair moved to the corporate-backed accelerator and incubator called Founders Factory. He was hired to be a product manager.

Alistair’s role involved focusing on a particular job sector and using his product knowledge to determine what products could be built for that sector. He was then required to create a prototype of the product and let it generate some interest in the market before passing it over to teams working at Founders Factory and letting them create a business around it. Once that process was complete he’d move on to another product.    

OnCare came about when Alistair was given the following brief; ‘go and fix elderly care’. Around £20 billion goes into elderly care a year but no technology supports it.  

If Alistair could prove a product needed to exist in the sector Founders Factory would give Alistair some resources and a  dev team and start the process of turning it into a business. After doing a lot of research Alistair found he really enjoyed the sector and took on the OnCare project himself.    


The startup pyramid 

Every person has at least one great business idea in them. 90% of people will never take that idea any further than talking about it. This can be due to a multitude of reasons, from not enough free time to not understanding how to properly fund their venture. Alistair highlighted the difficulty of the startup journey using a pyramid analogy when he spoke to us about building Oncare.

‘I do have to remind myself that Oncare is still a relatively new organisation. We’ve been going for a couple of years now. We’ve raised a few funding rounds and we’ve moved offices. We’ve done all these little activities that people would say are the markers of a successful business.

But I have to remind myself that there’s still a steep pyramid which Oncare still has to climb to be truly successful. Let me describe this Pyramid for you. 

At the bottom of this pyramid is everyone who’s got a business idea. A lot of people have great business ideas and they never act upon them. A lot of people also have the same business idea and its the person who actually acts upon their idea that make it to the second level of the pyramid.     

The gap between the first and the second layer is huge. The second layer of the pyramid involves being able to raise any money. Generating any money and hiring people to actually start working on it. And then after this, there are the subsequent rounds of funding.

There are so many hurdles that startups have to get past or they’ll die and they regularly do. I have to remind my self that even with all the hard work we’ve put, we’ve been very fortunate and successful so far in that we’ve survived and got customers, that’s another hurdle, got some revenue in, and that’s another hurdle too.’    


Show Notes:

00.32 Technology is making things cool

04.31 Pursuing profits as a startup 

06.27 Building a product that isn’t intimidating

08.41 Working on interesting problems

11.05 Attracting great talent as a startup

13.09 Alistair’s background  

19.00 Alternate ways to build a startup

24.39 Research your idea before you commit 

29.53 Don’t hide your ideas share them 

32.58 ‘If you build it they will come’ – no they won’t!