Susanne Mitschke looks much younger than 27 but when she starts talking about MindMate, a free app designed and developed in Glasgow to help people affected by dementia live more independent lives, she exudes a maturity beyond her years. Dementia is a serious subject and one the award-winning entrepreneur wants to see more widely discussed.
Mitschke, MindMates German-born chief executive, and her co-founders Rogelio Arellano, 29, from Mexico and Patrick Renner, 27, also from Germany all graduates from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde are quietly focused and ambitious.
The fact the app already has more than 150,000 monthly active users and is ranked in 17 countries as the number one health app in Apples store is remarkable given it was only launched last September. It has also claimed a clutch of prestigious awards.
Mindmate won last years much-lauded Converge Challenge, the business creation competition open to staff, students and recent graduates from Scotlands universities and research institutions. The fledgling company won 30,000 in cash and 14,000 in business support, sharing the top prize with Edinburgh-based MicroSense Technologies, a company that has developed a sensor system aimed at reducing waste in the food and drink industry.
Last summer, Mitschke and her co-founders won a place on Techstars, billed as the worlds top tech accelerator programme, in New York. MindMate was one of only 15 early-stage companies selected for the renowned scheme, which saw the team spend three months receiving mentoring from some of the tech worlds leading entrepreneurs.
According to Techstars, more than 90% of firms accepted onto the programme go on to receive more than US$2m in follow-on funding. Techstars really opened our eyes to what is possible, says Mitschke. We are building a global brand and an international product so exposure to the great contacts we made during our time on the programme was invaluable and has helped us fast-track our entry in the United States market.
With 850,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and numbers set to increase to more than one million by 2025, its certainly time to talk about the disease for which there is currently no cure. According to the Alzheimers Society, one in six people over the age of 80 have dementia and there are more than 40,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed.
The facts and the figures are stark, says Mitschke, who studied business and economics in Vienna before completing a masters degree in international management and leadership at the University of Glasgow. In the US, there are more than five million people suffering from dementia. Its a very cruel disease that affects families and carers too and it was our own different experiences of cognitive decline that led us to develop MindMate.
While Renner, the companys chief operations officer, had experience of working in the care system in Germany and Mitschke developed expertise in both digital health and Alzheimers, Arellanos association with the disease is particularly close to home his grandfather had the condition and he helped care for him for seven years, witnessing first-hand the everyday struggles not just of his grandfather but his family.
We had a whiteboard on the wall with family pictures on it to help my grandfather remember who everyone was, explains MindMates chief technical officer. He would sometimes forget who I was, or confuse me with my father. It was very difficult for all of us. He would see that board every time he went into the kitchen and there would be sticky notes reminding him to take pills or eat breakfast that type of thing.
So, we thought if we could put all these prompts into an app and make it interactive with games, reminders things like that it could be such a valuable tool in stimulating peoples minds and helping them stay active. We didnt have anything like that to help my grandfather.
The trio, which founded the company and started developing its app two years ago, carried out market research and found that, while there were several apps designed to help people with memory loss, there wasnt one that provided a one-stop shop solution in a user-friendly way that was also intuitive and medically backed. Thats our point of difference, Mitschke points out. But, in particular, we were determined it had to be easy to use.
MindMate has several features, including interactive games to stimulate a users cognitive abilities, as well as chat and video functions to help family and carers keep in touch with dementia sufferers. People suffering from dementia can be very lonely and confused, says Mitschke, and this leads to isolation.
We describe MindMate as a guardian angel, a friend who is always there to help you by giving you everything you need at your fingertips. Other apps provide brain games or advice on nutrition and exercise but if you are struggling with memory loss and are using several apps for different things and maybe Spotify for music then it can be overwhelming.
With MindMate, you dont have to use different apps for music, games, photographs and so on because you can access it all on our interface. Its an empowering tool because it helps people manage their lives without having to rely on family, friends or carers all the time it increases their quality of life and that of the people around them.
One of its many features is a My Story area that allows users to store happy memories photographs of family, friends and pets, for example. Click on the music button and theres a host of great tunes going back to the 1930s. There are also healthy recipes, games designed to improve your brain health and exercise workouts. Reminders to help manage hospital appointments, to-do lists and a notes section are also invaluable tools for people with early-stage memory loss.
While MindMate is targeted predominately at the baby-boomer generation who like the convenience of having everything they need in the one app, it has wider appeal because everyones brain health can be boosted by keeping the mind active. Its benefits have also been recognised by the National Health Service, which became its first paying customer after NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde bought the care home version of the app to run on iPads following a two-month trial with a post-diagnosis dementia support group.
MindMate is currently based at the University of Glasgows Thomson Building in the citys leafy West End, but would Mitschke be tempted to relocate from Scotland and the UK in light of Brexit and the wider political uncertainty? Absolutely not, she states emphatically. Scotland is the best place to start a business, she believes, pointing to the early support from Enterprise Campus West, linked to the University of Strathclyde. In Germany, for example, it is very difficult if you dont have loads of cash but theres excellent support in Scotland for start-ups and its also easy to recruit because of all the talent coming out the universities, and cheaper.
Scotlands very innovative when it comes to encouraging start-ups the University of Glasgow has supported us with premises for two years, which has allowed us to get on with developing the business, she adds. There are very high levels of collaboration and that encourages you to think beyond your own ideas and consider going in directions you hadnt previously thought of.
Mitschke also points to the many inspiring people here who have started from very small beginnings and now run global organisations. Many Scottish businesses are very well respected around the world and that opens doors, she says. The trios time spent in the US, meanwhile, taught them to be more confident about scaling up. Theres such a can-do attitude there, says Mitschke. The people are so enthusiastic and that helps you believe in yourself and your capabilities. After Techstars we felt that anything was possible.
Having already raised funding of 1m, Mitschke, Arellano and Renner make no apology for their lofty ambitions. Were a high-growth business and we want to see a MindMate app on the iPhone or iPad of every 60-plus person in the world, says Mitschke. Were collecting a massive amount of data on people who have dementia and Alzheimers and the number of sufferers is going to double until 2050.
People are getting older and living longer so we shouldnt be surprised, she says. Its not just dementia sufferers our apps can help older people also need help to live independently and there are people who have been ill and still want to live at home but need help. Thats where we see MindMate developing in the future.
The rest is here:
Brain Power – BQ Live
- Brain Games - Fun Games That Train Your Mind - November 11th, 2018
- Amazon.com: Brain Games - The Game - Based on the Emmy ... - October 17th, 2018
- Brain Games: Test Your Memory and Attention Span - September 14th, 2018
- Brain Games (National Geographic) - Wikipedia - July 14th, 2018
- Brain Games | Free Brain Games to Play Online - July 11th, 2018
- CNN | All Free Brain Games - September 6th, 2017
- The Next Step in Treating Gait and Walking Functions in Older Adults - Markets Insider - August 31st, 2017
- Competition heats up with 'Senior Brain Games' - WBBJ-TV - August 26th, 2017
- Flinn Foundation bioscience winners range from bug zappers to brain games - East Valley Tribune - August 25th, 2017
- Five of the Best Brain Game apps - Blast - August 23rd, 2017
- This Is The Only Type Of Brain Training That Works, According To Science - Fast Company - August 21st, 2017
- FSU institute contributes to Global Council on Brain Health recommendations - Florida State News - August 19th, 2017
- Online Applications Could Make Traditional Resumes, Cover Letters A Thing Of The Past - CBS New York - August 16th, 2017
- Are Prescription Video Games The Next Frontier In Medicine? - BOSS Magazine - August 11th, 2017
- Yoga May Boost Aging Brains - Carlisle Sentinel - August 10th, 2017
- 2017 Tennessee Senior Brain Games call for teams: time to compete! - The Tomahawk - August 5th, 2017
- 2017 Tennessee Senior Brain Games call for teams: Time to compete! - Winchester Herald Chronicle - August 4th, 2017
- How to keep your brain sharp in older age - Medical Xpress - August 4th, 2017
- 49ers' love of game versus reality of research - SFGate - August 4th, 2017
- 40 things you might not know about Tom Brady - Boston.com - August 3rd, 2017
- Report challenges claims of cognitive benefits of online brain ... - CBS News - July 31st, 2017
- 49ers' Joe Staley, Brian Hoyer, Kyle Juszczyk reflect on latest CTE study - ESPN (blog) - July 31st, 2017
- Brain Trauma Scientists Turn Their Attention to Soccer - WIRED - July 31st, 2017
- Brain-training games don't really train brains, a new study suggests - The Sydney Morning Herald - July 13th, 2017
- Column: Fitness isn't all in your head, it just starts there - Stillwater Gazette - July 12th, 2017
- New study takes a look at impact of brain games on patients with dementia - WTNH Connecticut News (press release) - July 11th, 2017
- Brain Games Don't Work - Fortune - July 11th, 2017
- Data SheetTuesday, July 11, 2017 - Fortune - July 11th, 2017
- Brain games popular at the Leeton library - The Irrigator - June 29th, 2017
- 3 steps that may boost brain health in old age - LaSalle News Tribune - June 26th, 2017
- Study Finds Good Reason to Keep Having Sex Over 50 - Newser - June 25th, 2017
- Library link - So Md News (subscription) - June 23rd, 2017
- Senior Center News: June 22 - The Wilton Bulletin - June 23rd, 2017
- Sex might boost brain health in old age: Study - Toronto Sun - June 23rd, 2017
- How to Keep your Brain Sharp - HuffPost - June 21st, 2017
- Mobile gaming sessions down 10 percent year-over-year, but ... - TechCrunch - June 21st, 2017
- Doing puzzles and playing brain games won't make you smarter - Star2.com - June 20th, 2017
- You Asked: How Can I Use More of My Brain? - TIME - June 16th, 2017
- Summer fun good for the brain - Chicago Parent - June 7th, 2017
- Chicago Fights Summer 'Brain Drain' With Superhero Science - Chicago Tonight | WTTW - June 7th, 2017
- Local kids enjoy Pelicans junior camp - Opelousas Daily World - June 1st, 2017
- The Dreaded Summer Slide and How to Tackle It - Education World - June 1st, 2017
- Mukwonago Community Library news: June 4, 2017 - Lake Country Now - May 31st, 2017
- No, playing brain games won't make you smarter they're just a bit ... - South China Morning Post - May 28th, 2017
- Brain Games - Wikipedia - May 27th, 2017
- From bug zappers to brain games: Meet some Flinn Foundation bioscience winners - Cronkite News - May 25th, 2017
- Ready for the Brain Games championship round - Times-Mail (subscription) - May 25th, 2017
- BRAIN GAMES: 5 local teams headed to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals - Press & Sun-Bulletin - May 23rd, 2017
- Talk in Albany examines dementia, importance of brain exercises - East Bay Times - May 23rd, 2017
- Games reward brains, vigor - The Advocate - May 18th, 2017
- This video game could literally train our brains to resist symptoms of disease - Mic - May 18th, 2017
- Brain Games XVI under way - Times-Mail (subscription) - May 17th, 2017
- Brain Games And Breakthroughs In Call Center Automation - Forbes - May 17th, 2017
- No evidence that playing 'brain games' make you smarter - Digital Journal - May 6th, 2017
- The Rockwood Files - A weekend of brain games - Cedar County Republican (subscription) - May 6th, 2017
- The Disappointing Reason Those Brain-Training Apps Might Not Work - SheKnows.com - April 27th, 2017
- Cognitive Benefits of Exercise Outshine Brain-Training Games - Psychology Today (blog) - April 26th, 2017
- Brain Training Games Are a Waste of Time - Men's Journal - April 25th, 2017
- Brain Games: The Science of Coaching - Sports On Earth - April 24th, 2017
- Do brain games make you smarter, or just better at brain games? - Uncommon Wisdom Daily - April 22nd, 2017
- Just when you thought brain games made you smarter - The Siasat Daily - April 22nd, 2017
- No Gain in Brain Games - Anti Aging News - April 21st, 2017
- Brain Games May Not Boost Your Productivity After all - Indiatimes ... - Indiatimes.com - April 21st, 2017
- Just when you thought brain games made you smarter - Business Standard - April 21st, 2017
- Brain games may not make you smarter: Study - Mathrubhumi English - April 20th, 2017
- Matt Del Vecchio: Keeping fit physically and mentally - The Suburban Newspaper - April 19th, 2017
- What my 'Entrepreneur' self would tell my 'Corporate' self - Huffington Post - April 18th, 2017
- Actually, brain games don't make you smarter: study - New York Daily News - April 18th, 2017
- You're middle-aged this is the perfect time to work on staying healthy - Washington Post - April 15th, 2017
- Brain Games - Play Yourself Smarter - Agame.com - April 13th, 2017
- 'Same-old same-old' ages the brain. Don't let it - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - April 9th, 2017
- Is Successful Brain Training Fake News?: Neurologists Parse Out the Messaging for Patients - LWW Journals - April 6th, 2017
- CNN 10 - April 5, 2017 - CNN - April 5th, 2017
- Brain Games: Event raises funds for LVEP - Martinsburg Journal - April 3rd, 2017
- Upcoming events at the Jenks Center - Wicked Local Winchester - March 30th, 2017
- Video Games Can Help Ease Pain for People with MS - Healthline - March 26th, 2017
- Senior Scene: From the Office: Take steps now to protect future brain health - Oneonta Daily Star - March 25th, 2017
- Facebook Live with Nat Geo's Brain Games host Jason Silva at 4PM ET - Blastr - March 24th, 2017
- Health happenings, from brain-health to ADHD parents group - Greensboro News & Record - March 20th, 2017
- Interview: Jason Silva talks Origins and why we need science shows more than ever - Monsters and Critics.com - March 20th, 2017