Lion’s Den Workshops 2014/15

Almost exactly one year ago, six PhD students teamed up with the common goal of creating an innovative business idea. Being all very different people, we had a lot of fun throwing our ideas together over multiple caffeinated beverages, until our idea really came together. And now, looking back, it’s great to see how what seemed like a fun side-project to our studies has become a real fledgling start-up. Our idea was a self-monitoring health app called CogniTracker, with the potential to aid in the early diagnosis of dementia in the general population. It will be able to track performance, physiology and well-being of users by measuring visual movements, speech changes, hand movements and cognition using smartphone technology.

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Winning the Lion’s Den Challenge in February was a huge turning point for us as it meant we could really start to launch our idea forward, with the support of KCL. We had loads of ideas for the project that we needed to test out and people we wanted to work with, and now as winners of the competition we had the financial backing and confidence in our idea to really get started.

In the last 6 months we have been putting a lot of the basic business skills learned from the Lion’s Den workshops into practice, along with the continued support of the Lion’s Den team. We have been learning how to set up a business, protect our IP, and carrying out market research. Winning also gave us the opportunity to do the fun part of the business; designing the games we wanted for our app! Over the summer our programmer, Richard, has been making a prototype of the app and it’s been awesome to see him turn doodles of our ideas into fun games that can be played on a smartphone. Having a mentor provided through the Lion’s Den Challenge has also been invaluable to us, with incredible insight and fine-tuning to enhance our ideas throughout this venture.

Looking back to this time last year, we really couldn’t have guessed the knowledge we would gain, the skills we would acquire and the friendships we would make through the Lion’s Den programme. It’s been a great experience for us and we would definitely recommend that you give it a try this year! Good Luck!

See the schedule of workshops between now and February here.

Written by Christos Michaelides & Christina Wayman

IOP PhD students win Lion’s Den Challenge 2014

The Graduate School is pleased to congratulate six PhD students from the IoP whose team CogniTracker recently won the top prize for best idea at this year’s Lion’s Den Challenge. Here’s what the team had to say of their experience:

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“In October 2013 six neuroscience and neuroimaging PhD students from the IoP began to discuss entering the Lion’s Den challenge. Although motivations for entering the competition were varied, we all wanted to take on a new challenge with the hope of acquiring new skills along the way. In particular, we wanted something that a PhD in neuroscience doesn’t always afford, including the opportunity to learn about the business world and to develop an idea to full fruition.

So we set out on a 5 month journey of meetings, brain storming and business plan drafting that evoked a range of emotions and feelings, from excitement to frustration. Importantly, we initially had no experience in anything business, but we had big (admittedly, undirected) aspirations and so we headed to the twice-monthly workshops put on by the Lion’s Den programme, which guided us in everything from creation of an idea to taking it to market. Even our most anti-business team-member was soon won over, as it became clear that, besides a sizeable financial reward, a business can also be an excellent vehicle for doing good in the world.

Our idea is a self-monitoring health app called CogniTracker that potentially offers a research-led solution to aid in the early diagnosis of dementia in the general population and on a global scale. Our app will allow you to track your own performance, physiology and well-being by measuring visual movements, speech, touch and cognition. By this time it was already December, and over Christmas in an unbelievable team effort we put together a business plan that brought us the opportunity to pitch in the Lion’s Den challenge Grand Final. Yet more team-work followed and we all walked in with the knowledge that we had done our preparation and just had to execute the pitch smoothly (no pressure!).

Although the competition was tough and the other pitches excellent, the judges, to our surprise, announced our idea as the winner for Lion’s Den 2013/14. It has been a really exciting few weeks with everybody at the IoP offering us their congratulations and support for the future of the project.

We strongly encourage people to enter the Lion’s Den challenge, even if you do not have an idea yet. So if you gather the right people around you, be committed and critical – you are heading for success.”

Good Luck, the CogniTracker Team