With a background in investments and early startup advisory, Paul got to work on his own idea. Playbrush makes brushing your teeth fun by gamifying the experience. As the company continues to find fans in parents, the team is preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign this April.
What were you doing before studying at GA?
Directly before General Assembly, I was working in Investment & Advisory with early stage ventures in Austria, Germany, and India. Prior to that, I studied Technology Entrepreneurship at UCL and Biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Science Vienna. Also, I gained significant work experience in the healthcare sector and in early stage finance.
What motivated you to enroll in our Web Development Immersive (WDI)?
The world is going digital (“Software is eating the world”), and I was looking for a way to deepen my understanding and build simple prototypes myself. After starting using various online tools I was looking for a boost and hands-on training. Several friends recommended GA’s WDI to me and it was definitely one of the best learning environments of my life.
Tell me about Playbrush.
Playbrush makes brushing teeth fun. We are developing a smart gadget, which transforms conventional toothbrushes into gaming controllers – so kids and young-at-hearts can play fun and instructional mobile games while brushing.
We are supported by University College London, the Eastman Dental Hospital and various renowned dentists in Austria, Germany, and the UK. So far, we have tested with more than 60 kids, and as the feedback is fantastic, we will launch via Kickstarter in April.
How did you come up with this idea?
I started Playbrush with two other reluctant brushers: Tolulope, a fantastic software engineer, and Matthäus, a hardware hobbyist constructor. Alongside solving our own pain points, we were inspired by my little godchild, who is not particularly interested in brushing and is therefore not brushing regularly, long enough or with accuracy.
I really enjoy working in Health, making one of the most annoying daily routines finally fun. Combining gamification and the Internet of Things in an new, innovative way helps us to solve real problems for fantastic users. We strongly believe that gamification can lead to behavioral change and make a real difference.
What is the biggest product issue that you’ve had to address?
Product development is divided into two bits: software and hardware. While we all have a background in software, coding and customer development, the hardware part was very new to us. Luckily we have help from some great engineers to accelerate our development. The most important part is getting continuous feedback from kids, parents, and dentists to improve the product and build something great.
How do you divide responsibilities amongst three co-founders?
Like most startups, all three of us are doing bits of everything. In general Tolulope is the main product brain, overseeing the software – the two of us code 95% of the product but he is the lead here. Matthäus is doing most of the online marketing bits, our financials and some parts of the hardware development. He is sometimes also writing code. I am basically the link between the two, overseeing the both customer and product development, writing code, helping with hardware issues, testing with families, etc.
All three of us discuss strategic and entrepreneurial issues.
What are the next steps for the company?
Until April we will test with 200-300 kids. On the 9th of April we will launch via Kickstarter. Here we need GA’s help to get enough buzz and press in the first days.
What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout this experience?
While Tech Entrepreneurship helped me to understand the London Tech scene, sharpen my user experience, and customer development skills, General Assembly was the environment that really gave me the confidence to pursue Playbrush. Having the skills to code, the background to teach yourself iOS development, and the education to build your own prototype was the missing link to start properly.
Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Solve a real pain point for a customer segment easily accessible to you offering a solution you can build yourself. Be persistent and turn your imagination and perception into reality.
Nelson Igunma composes success stories about General Assembly alumni from around the world.