For many an Australian startup, the goal is to expand internationally and become a global business.
Doing just that is Victorian healthtech startup CareMonkey, which has created a platform to securely collect, store, and distribute medical and emergency contact information for organisations with a duty of care, such as schools, sports clubs, and community organisations.
For example, a school can collect each student’s medical and emergency information from parents through a simple online form, and ensure the right people have access to it in the event of an emergency.
Like many great business ideas, that for CareMonkey came to cofounder Troy Westley through a need he had experienced himself.
Working from home one day, he pulled out one of his son’s asthma action plans from a filing cabinet; designed by his son’s doctor, the document detailed the symptoms of his son’s asthma and what steps to take in the event of an asthma attack.
“I was horrified that it was in the filing cabinet and not accessible to anybody,” Westley said.
Thinking there had to be a better way to share this kind of document and information with his son’s teachers and other caretakers, the idea for CareMonkey was born.
Given the scope of CareMonkey and its potential, both customers and accolades have come thick and fast for the startup.
Among its clients are educational institutions and sports clubs across Australia, the UK, and the United States, with CareMonkey racking up one million users.
This growth has been pushed in part thanks to globally-recognised award wins; the startup won the pitching competition at the 2015 Slush conference in Helsinki, and the title of Best Startup in the Environmental Impact category at the Talent Unleashed Awards in 2015.
Finding out he had been nominated for the Talent Unleashed Awards was a nice surprise for Westley, but as soon as he heard the news he got right to work.
“Once I was nominated, I wanted to win the award for our company and be able to leverage winning a global competition judged by such brilliant minds as Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak. I was pretty keen to spend time with Richard on Necker Island too,” he said.
After making a short video for his application, Westley was shortlisted for the finals in Sydney. He wrote his pitch the night before in his hotel room, he said, then practised it over and over.
“You don’t have a lot of time in pitching competitions so you need to carefully consider what you’re going to say, then be able to back that up with evidence or show traction,” he explained.
“The practice is all about hearing your own words out loud and ensuring it makes sense and flows well. Tweak, then repeat until you’ve nailed it; that’s my formula and it works for me.”
The formula worked, with CareMonkey taking out the prize.
“As an individual I was very proud, not so much of myself, but more that CareMonkey was judged by experts as the best solution. For the business it gave us some additional ‘street cred’ and looked great on our website and social channels,” Westley explained.
Two years on, CareMonkey continues to leverage the its connection to the Talent Unleashed Awards in its marketing, with quotes from Branson and Wozniak about the business embedded on the startup’s website.
While this has helped in the startup’s quest for global growth, Westley said the most important thing comes back to why CareMonkey was judged the best startup in its category in the first place: being the best solution in market.
“Awards are great, but you still have to sell your product or service. People don’t realise how difficult it is to create a new product or a new company and try to market it around the world. Awards help on your website, they can give you some extra credibility, but that doesn’t make sales; there’s still a massive job to do to develop a market.”
With the 2017 Awards program now open, Westley’s advice to startups tossing up whether to enter is: just do it.
“Always enter awards. I’ve entered lots – it forces you to get better at pitching your company and solution. You can get valuable feedback too, whether or not you win, so it’s never a waste of time,” he said.
While Westley spent four days with Richard Branson at his home on Necker Island as part of his prize in 2015 – “the most unique and amazing opportunity,” he said – this year’s winners will have the chance to chat with Steve Wozniak about their business.
If in their place, Westley already knows what he would ask the cofounder of Apple.
“Why did you pick my company? What holes can you see in my business? What would you do next if you were in my role in this business?”
Is entering the 2017 Talent Unleashed Awards part of your journey? Check out the categories and enter here.