Why Adam Jahnke Started Umps Health

Adam Jahnke is the co-founder of Umps Health, which supports people to live safely and independently at home. Umps Health does this using non-intrusive smart plugs that measure patterns in the way people use everyday home appliances, like the TV, kettle, fridge or microwave and raise alerts when behaviour is unusual.

What inspired you to start this?

In 2016, my grandpa fell at home and was hospitalised. When he came out of hospital, he wanted to stay living in the home he’d been in for more than 60 years, and we wanted to support his independence.

I looked to technology, but found that he already had the industry standard in incident detection – a pendant worn around the neck. The problem with this is that we only find out about something after it happens, and like most people, even when my grandpa fell he wasn’t wearing it.

So we set out to build something new. Something that worked with my grandpa’s daily habits, was non-intrusive and easy to install and maintain. My grandpa was the first person to use our technology, we all call him Umps, and that’s where our name comes from.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing with building your startup and how do you think Remarkable can help you overcome this challenge?

This year, we want to scale our business and our impact. We can’t do this without partners, and are looking to work with organisations already delivering care to older people and people with disabilities. Remarkable, as a technology accelerator within a large service provider, straddles both the technology and service provider landscape and is uniquely placed to support us during this stage of growth.

Umps Health
Umps Health

What have been the highlights of your Remarkable experience so far?

Definitely exhibiting Umps Health’s technology at the Sydney Disability Expo. At the Expo, we spoke to hundreds of people with disabilities and their families about how technology meets (or doesn’t meet!) their needs. I was taken aback by how hungry people are for this type of technology, and it gave us the opportunity to hear first hand about the transformational power of disability tech. In particular, I loved hearing the stories of people in their 20s and 30s using technology to live with autonomy for the first time. And the best part? We’re now supporting some of those people we met at the Expo.

You’ve done another accelerator program. How does Remarkable compare to the other accelerator program you did?

Prior to Remarkable, we were a participant in the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) – run by the University of Melbourne. The support we received from MAP matched the challenges we faced at the time. During the program, we worked to better understand the problem we were solving, test our value proposition with early customers and outline our strategy for growth.

When we came into Remarkable, we already had a product and some traction with early customers in aged care. It was Remarkable’s clear focus on disability tech that motivated us to apply, and we entered the program with 3 specific goals: to determine whether our technology could work for people with disabilities, to identify potential funding streams under the NDIS and establish a presence in New South Wales. I’m glad to say, we’ve accomplished all three!

Do you have any tips for startups who are trying to get on an accelerator program?

You don’t need to wait until you’re accepted into a program to access the benefits of being part of the community. Both Remarkable and MAP run events and masterclass programs all year around, and the mentors, alumni and program teams are very generous with their time.

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

Tackling Heropreneurship, by Daniela Papi-Thornton. Daniela’s research outlines the importance of taking a systems approach to social impact, removing ego from the equation, understanding your unique strengths and finding your “you-shaped hole”. The Impact Gaps Canvas from the report is a really practical tool to map a complex problem landscape, the existing solutions and identify potential gaps.

Where are all the Startup Founders with a Disability?

As we approach the end of our 16 week accelerator program, we are starting to think about who will be applying for our 2019 program. We know that the best founders have a deep understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve for and it got me thinking about where are the founders with a disability and how do we get them to apply for Remarkable? We think that there could be more people with a disability out there who are either working on something or have the seed of an idea for something…and we want to know who they are!

Founders with a disability
Founders with a disability

We’re looking for people with disability to get involved in Remarkable because we believe that founders with disability will have great insights and truly understand the problem they are solving. Designing with disability rather than designing for disability can make a big difference. As Liz Jackson, founder of @The Disabled List says “People with disability are the ultimate life hackers. They’ve been hacking their whole lives”.

There has been no better time to get involved in disability tech. Crunchbase news recently reported that VC investment in startups building assistive technologies and treatments for disabilities grew by 133 percent between 2012 and 2017 and the number of VC deals grew by 87 percent.

And Startup Muster, the largest survey of the Australian startups, shared in their 2017 Annual Report that 4.3% of startups are in the disability space. This is the first year that Startup Muster has recorded this information about disability and we expect to see this grow in 2018.

Now is an exciting time to innovate and to harness technology to improve the lives of people with disability. This is a call out to unearth the founders with disability and invite them to apply for the Remarkable accelerator program in 2019. If you or someone you know has a disability and an idea, even if you’re not ready to apply in 2018, we would love to hear from you!

Meet Our Curious Mentor, Gauri Bhalla

Gauri Bhalla, is a Remarkable mentor who lends her time, expertise and enthusiasm to our startups and the Remarkable team. Gauri loves learning and helping others think differently. She has worked in Universities in the UK, US and Australia. She is the Founder of the Curious Collective which helps people in companies build skills for the future of work. Those skills include curiosity, diversity of thinking, empathy, and foundational toolkits like design thinking and lean start up.

Here’s a little more about Gauri and her Remarkable experience.

What are your core areas of expertise, particularly when it comes to mentoring for Remarkable?

Identifying customer needs and jobs to be done. Asking good questions. Listening and being able to judge how much capability/capacity the team has to learn and take action.

What inspired you become a mentor for Remarkable?

The Remarkable team made me do it! They are inspiring and gave me the confidence to believe I could be of use to a team.

Do you work with any other accelerator programs or startups? How is Remarkable different?

Yes. I teach on lots of programs – Remarkable is different because of the sense of purpose – what we are doing really matters, not just creating another app to make people rich…and the care for founders and clients is genuine and embedded in everything.

Are there any parts of the accelerator program that you particularly enjoy?

I’m a lead mentor for Spacee – I look forward to Thursday mornings each week when we meet Madi and Tom to learn from them and see how we can effectively help with contacts, encouragement, a different perspective.

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

I love learning from people and experiences, so I run a lot of experiments and meet as diverse a range of people as I can, with an open mind. I teach at The School of Life, and love how people and sessions there always stretch my thinking. I still think the business model canvas is the most elegant, useful tool for business thinking – I use it constantly to test ideas and unpack businesses.

We’d love to hear your advice for the teams. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your work life that you would like to pass on to the startups?

I love this quote because it speaks to our ability to constantly evolve and the surrender to discomfort to enable our potential.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be” (Lao Tzu)