A PME Success Story: Catching Up with Praktice Health

startup, montreal, tech, Praktice HealthMichael Moszberg was part of the 2014 PME funding round. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Praktice Health, he identified a gap in the market for wellness activities specifically for businesses. In the process of starting a business Michael joined many accelerators and utilized many of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Quebec. He shares some very valuable insight and advice based on his experience in Montreal accelerators, what he would change, and where entrepreneurs can find the help that suits them in the city.

Q: What sparked the idea to start Praktice Health?

A: Through Praktice Health we started to talk to HR managers about corporate wellness activities. What we discovered was that HR managers were looking for variety and modern solutions, nothing was available to them. We went around to see what the most engaging activity possible was. The real problem was that there was low engagement in wellness activities. There were no alternatives for HR managers to put in a wellness activity.

Q: How were you able to differentiate yourself from other fitness programs and apps offered?

A: There is a lot available for consumers but there is nothing available for businesses. A lot of the features that businesses need is the planning, the communications, the administration, the analytics, the surveys, the photos. It also needs to be private and secure. When you get bigger businesses they want more analytics based on department. Nothing like that is available to the corporate environment. What is available are expensive, 12 month corporate agreements. These are programs that take up the entire wellness budget. Then you have consumer apps that are not private secure, or have HR features.

Q: You’ve been a part of many accelerators over the years. What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of accelerators?

A: I think that the biggest advantage with accelerators is also the biggest disadvantage. The number one thing you get is community. Whether you’re at District 3, McGill or FounderFuel, they all offer a certain level of community whether it be advisors, colleagues or peers. I think that when you’re first starting out it’s good to join an accelerator but after a while you have to start to focus on your business. Having too many events and people around can be a distraction.

Q: Based on your experience, what would you change from the whole incubator/accelerator process?

A: They want to help so many companies that it becomes hard to give dedicated attention to any one. The model with almost every incubator is that they put up the general information and want to make the company shine. But 1 in 10 succeed. If they had the resources to dedicate more to each company perhaps they would have more than 1 out of 10 success rate. But, they are limited by their resources so I understand. More resources is what they need.

Q: What is your most valuable takeaway from your experience with the different incubators?

A: The depth of advisors that I’ve collected over the years is most valuable. The challenges with mentors is that it’s hard to find one that is good for you in all aspects. I think that you should have one that is good in sales, one that is good in IT, another in fundraising, etc. There is no one mentor that is perfect for any company. It’s important to have a diverse group of mentors.

Q: What are the best places for an entrepreneur to find resources in Montreal, whether it be financial or just advice?

A: Every incubator is unique. District 3 in providing free office space and getting people from point 0 to getting started. McGill has a great alumni network and good people that work there as well. The McGill Dobson Cup is a fantastic way for people to get money at the very beginning. Then you have FounderFuel, which is very good at accelerating your company. The thing about FounderFuel is that if you get in too early you’re going to miss your chance to get that acceleration. You have to be at a certain level for their accelerator to make sense to you. A lot of people don’t realize how long it takes to start a company. Of course PME (ProMontreal Entrepreneurs) is a great resource too. So all in all, District 3 is good to get started, McGill too. Then you have organizations like PME, PME Mtl, SAJE, and Angels for additional support. If you’re more established in your business you have FounderFuel and other companies. So there’s my convoluted answer. It takes a whole community and all these things add to the eco- system no one accelerator makes the city.

Q: What’s your opinion about being an entrepreneur in Montreal? Do you think the eco-system works in favor of the entrepreneur?

A: I believe that MTL is a fantastic place to start and build a company. Because of the low wages, talent, and tax credit. To start a company in Montreal is fantastic. It’s hard to sell into to the Montreal market though. For example, In Israel you have lots of resources for start-ups, but you don’t see many companies that are going to sell in Israel. Montreal is a fantastic place to build, but plan to sell globally.

Q: How has PME helped you and your business?

A: PME truly does support the entrepreneur. They really do invest time and effort in every single one of the companies to succeed.

This is some great practical advice from someone who started their business in Montreal. Montreal has some great resources available to you. You have to know which ones are right for you at your current stage of business development. Michael has come a long way since we met him in 2014. We’re sure that better things are yet to come for him and Praktice Health.

ProMontreal Entrepreneurs (PME) is a social business model created to help young entrepreneurs build and strengthen their business roots in Montreal. PME offers business plan feedback, a network of mentors, and access to sources of funding. Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-40 can also get access to capital of up to $50,000. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have.

A PME Success Story: Catching up with Revols

a-pme-success-story-catching-up-with-revolsDaniel Blumer and Navi Cohen, founders of Revols, have reached and surpassed great milestones since we first met them in 2014. What started off as an idea to develop premium quick custom-fit wireless earphones is now approaching reality with shipping scheduled for early 2017. Earlier this year, in just two months their Kickstarter campaign raised $2.5 million (U.S.), breaking records and becoming Canada’s most funded project in Kickstarter history. We had the chance to catch up with the Revols CEO, Daniel Blumer, to talk about it his journey and what lies ahead for the company.  He offers some interesting insight and some lessons learnt in retrospect.

Q: What helped you identify a gap in the market for your product when you founded your company with Navi?

A: Navi approached me with the idea of custom fit earphones and the whole concept was that custom fit provides this comfort level that is just so much better than a regular pair of earphones. That immediately struck a chord with me because myself, my wife, so many people, struggle with their earphones and are not comfortable. To me, that was the immediate compelling reason as to why we should go into this. Further justification came through doing the due diligence, doing the market research, seeing why people replace their earphones and why they buy premium earphones.

Q: You’ve had tremendous success with your Kickstarter campaign. It was the most funded Canadian project in Kickstarter history! Given that so many crowdfunding campaigns fail, what was your secret?

A: We spent around 3 months doing diligence, and learning about Kickstarter. We understood it. Some people think that you can just create a video and put it on Kickstarter. There is so much more to it. One of the biggest challenges which we saw right away was credibility. It’s not easy to be credible and show that what you are offering isn’t BS or a lie. You want to show that what you have is real, that it works, and that it can be trusted. For us one of the biggest things we did to succeed is that we hired a local PR firm and before the campaign started we went out to every single media outlet that would talk to us in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and did the process on them. They then wrote reviews on us. If they liked us they would write good reviews which would then translate to trust and credibility and more people would back it. There was a direct correlation between when the media would release their review and how much we would receive on the Kickstarter.

Q: This success, while great, must come with tones of pressure. How do you feel about this?

A: More pressure than I’ve ever had in my life because to me the part that I hate the most is being in debt to someone else. I don’t have debt I don’t want to have debt. When you think about it you’re happy and so excited about the success of your Kickstarter and having all this money to make your product. But I’m so anxious to just deliver to all our backers. We have 12,000 people that supported us. A lot of them are Montrealers, friends, family, and people that have an interest in helping another Montreal company. Until we deliver there’s this pit in my stomach.

Q: What stage of development are you at presently?

A: We’re planning on delivering in November and December. We’re getting there.

Q: You are a Montreal-based company, what is it like having a hardware company here?

A: Hardware is not easy to build here. The first year and a half we were only in Montreal. It was difficult in terms of cost, and in terms of the time it took to make all product versions. Something that has helped us tremendously is our relationship with the hardware accelerator, Hax. We moved to China last summer for 4 months and now we have people on the ground in China overseeing production. Now we can iterate faster at a lower cost in China which is a great advantage.

Q: What are some pros of being a Montreal-based company?

A: Montreal’s start-up community is growing a lot. You see it. You see it by the events and by the different companies coming out of Montreal. It’s impressive. There are many advantages of being in Montreal. Tax credit-wise, when you’re creating a company with a lot of R&D requirements, the Canadian and Quebec government are phenomenal at helping fund projects. You don’t get that in the States.

Q: Now that Revols is doing well and growing, in retrospect, can you think of lessons learnt or things you wish you would have done differently?

A: To me, one of the biggest learnings is with something we’ve experienced over the past few months when trying to do everything in house. We wanted to have control over all our projects. Looking back, it’s okay to outsource to a third party who’s more competent in a particular project. It would have costed more but it would have saved us months. It would have been worth it, so that’s what we’re starting to do now. If it’s not your core competency it is okay to outsource to a certain extent as long as you have a certain level of control.

Q: How has PME helped you in your journey?

A: PME has genuinely helped us because they came in relatively at the beginning when we didn’t have a lot of money. There are 2 components to PME. There’s the money itself. The money allows us to develop and grow without having to look elsewhere. Our valuation at the beginning was smaller and we would have had to give up a lot more of the company then. So, that money was sufficient in allowing us to go to the point where we now have a nicer valuation, we’re going to get more money and give up less equity. That is because of what PME helped us with. On the other side which is equally, if not more important, is the mentorship side. The ability to have access to mentors who are tremendously experienced in different fields and the comfort in knowing you can go to them is phenomenal. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity.

Q: 10 years from now where do you see Revols?

A: 10 years from now Revols will be a recognized brand name in the premium retail space, but not just selling earphones. Selling many different ear-related products with a custom fit solution.

Revols has come a long way in the past 2 years. We can’t wait to see what is in store for Daniel and Navi moving forward!

Pro-Montreal Entrepreneurs (PME) is a social business model created to help young entrepreneurs build and strengthen their business roots in Montreal. PME offers business plan feedback, a network of mentors, and access to sources of funding. Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-40 can also get access to capital of up to $50,000. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have.

Finding a Co-Founder

I am asked a lot of questions. Aside from “where do I get money to fund my start-up?”, the second most-asked question is: “where do I find a co-founder?” It is a difficult question to answer, because it’s not just about someone who will share in the work, which at the beginning can seem insurmountable. It is also someone who will have to share your passion and your commitment to seeing the idea through. I’ve been a victim of partnering with a friend. In the end, it didn’t work because he just wasn’t committed enough to the project. It changed our friendship.

Now for the million dollar question, where can you find a co-founder? My answer is always the same: you find a co-founder when you least expect it. When talking about your business idea in an informal setting: over drinks, over dinner. It works best when it’s not forced. Then, it just happens; that magical moment when it just clicks. It’s really as simple as that. Sure, there are websites that promise that they can help you find a co-founder but personality and work ethic is so important, I think that meeting someone in an informal setting and seeing how this person interacts with others and with you, is the best way. You find other commonalities that transcend a business relationship, which in my opinion is very important. Remember you will spend so many hours together and make complicated decisions together so if the personalities don’t fit, it won’t work.