Barclays Black Founder Accelerator:


Samuel Ola (co-founder and CEO) and Stephen Ao (co-founder and CPO) of Medified tell us why they joined the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator.

Tell us about Medified.

Medified is making medication leaflets digital. Our mobile app enables anyone to scan the barcode on medication packets to access a more accessible leaflet, rather than the paper ones we have today - making medical information easier to understand. We also enable patients to review their medication and this data helps pharmaceutical companies to make more informed decisions in drug development.

Why did you join the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator?

We joined the accelerator to refine our value proposition and really make sure we were tackling the biggest problems faced by our target users. With the combined expertise and connections of Foundervine and Barclays Eagle labs, we're really excited about the opportunity to meet experienced mentors and startup experts. They've been through what we are currently going through so it's a unique opportunity for us to soak in all their advice.

What would be your desired outcome from this programme?

I would really like to walk away from the accelerator with version one of the app fully built out and in the hands of a few patients. I want to be able to see the value we're providing to at least one customer to understand that we're actually on to something. As well as this, it would be amazing to make connections with like-minded black founders and have a a strong network of mentors /entrepreneurs working to diversity tech entrepreneurship.

Which entrepreneur inspires you the most and why?

José Cayasso (Caya) - the CEO and co-founder of Slidebean. I regularly watch Slidebean's youtube channel as well as Caya's personal youtube channel as it gives a unique insight into how a venture funded tech company actually runs. I've never seen any founder as transparent as him and his genuine passion for helping other founders is incredibly inspiring. Slidebean is doing well but is certainly not a unicorn. Caya founded previous startups that failed heavily but he didn't let this stop him and he took his lessons from those failures to build the successful company Slidebean is today. I guess it boils down to resilience. Founders that never give up tend to inspire me a lot. Honorable mention goes to Stewart Butterfield (CEO and co-founder of Slack) - also for his resilience.

What has been your biggest win in your entrepreneurial journey?

Winning Future Startup Now and getting a £5000 grant from the Mayor of London. I attended the program whilst doing part-time work as well as a virtual internship and it had to be one of the busiest 6 weeks of my life. I worked tirelessly on my pitch and made sure I practiced with pretty much everyone I knew. It was a huge relief to have won the grant in the end as I put my everything into it.

And your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge in entrepreneurship has been when my first e-commerce business failed. It was hard to deal with as I put a lot of work into it but achieved very little success. It essentially killed a dream and that was hard to comprehend. It was especially hard when friends and family would ask how things are going and I had to explain to them that I had to stop the business. Ultimately it has made me stronger and i'm glad I had the experience - without it I wouldn't be the entrepreneur I am today.

Where did you go for business advice and how did it help you?

I was assigned to a mentor, Tom Barltrop, during a startup program I attended and he's been extremely helpful since. He's made vital connections as well as given a lot of insight as he works within HealthTech so can give very relevant advice. Besides him, I reached out to my network on LinkedIn and arranged calls with people who I believed may be of help.

What drives you to make your business a success?

The possibility of transforming people's lives for the better. After two of my mums friends passed away due to diabetes, I strongly felt that everyone with a condition like that should have the tools to be able to manage their health better. Since then, I've been motivated to improve they way people look after their wellbeing, no matter what condition they have.

What advice would you give other founders thinking about starting their own business?

I would say before you do or build anything, obsess over your customer. I really mean empathise with them. Live in their shoes and immerse yourself in their problems. If you're lucky, there will be a lot of those customers meaning your business can make a huge impact on a lot of lives. The rest of the work after knowing your customers is just making sure you build something that actually solves their problems - but that's the fun part.

Why did you want to start your business?

Because I don't want to have to wait for someone to come around and do what we're trying to do. It's not FOMO, it's just if we don’t do it, then who will?

What do you do to relax when not working?

I play a lot of football. I'm a centre-back that doesn't like people getting past me. Besides this I play the keyboard/piano which can really help to de-stress.

How has covid made you pivot your business?

Covid has emphasised the need for patient-doctor communication beyond when you see them for an appointment. With patients having to wait 19 weeks to see a Doctor now, we wanted to give users a solution that they can use to effectively manage their long term conditions when they can't see a doctor. This meant that we needed to consider features that can integrate/aid telemedicine and allow people to send information to their doctors remotely.

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