Vimcore is a Sydney B2B startup that connects its customers’ employees to local healthcare providers. When not running the business, the company’s co-founder, Jessica Evans, advocates women entrepreneurship in the largely male tech startup scene.
Vimcore targets businesses that care about employee health and want to provide a simple way for their staff to access healthcare advice and find medical services.
Evans, a physiotherapist, has experience in the corporate world, including a previous job at Sanitarium. She said she has seen first-hand that large companies often struggle to provide good healthcare information and services to employees.
“Normally corporate health is a vaccination or some health checks, but the problem with having stuff that’s always on-site is that if people are busy, travelling or sick and can’t make it that day, they miss out on whatever little event there was for health that year.”
The Vimcore service connects employees to Australian health professionals. When they log in at work, the service asks what are they struggling with and users can select topics including stress, fitness and nutrition.
After entering their location, users receive a listing of providers in their area. Users can enter a Q&A chat with the provider and see what services they offer. Some services can be bought directly through Vimcore – for example, users can get a nutritionist to review their food diary.
Funding and selling
Vimcore is almost one year old, having launched in September 2013. It was in development for eight months before that, and the startup has been completely self-funded, said Evans.
“The founders built the product. We didn’t hire or have to bring in a software developer.”
The startup is not currently seeking additional funding but might do so in the future once it has more business customers and health providers on board, she said.
As a matching service, Vimcore has two types of customers – businesses and healthcare providers. The healthcare providers are mostly local small businesses.
Vimcore has a reach of 15,000 consumers through their employers in Australia and New Zealand. It has about 100 healthcare providers in Australia, mostly in Sydney and Melbourne. In the future, Vimcore plans to sell directly to consumers without them needing to use a work login, she said.
Evans has relied mainly on networking and word of mouth to secure many of the startup's first customers. In addition, Vimcore has partnered with other corporate wellness organisations that lack a digital presence, she said.
“I did do a fair bit of cold calling when we first started. You have to start somewhere. But I don’t have to do it too much anymore, which is good.”
Vimcore has partnered with Microsoft and Salesforce.com so that users can log in with their Yammer or Chatter accounts. These integrations came about as a result of customer feedback and have increased signup rates dramatically, she said.
Vimcore is now focussed on growing its customer base in Australia. The startup has received interest from companies in the US but Evans said going international is not an immediate property, she said.
“We’re pretty young. We want to get everything right here and really test out the business and see the wins and the flaws.”
Women in startups
Evans has is an advocate women's participation in tech startups and is a member of several startup and women’s business groups, including Westpac’s Ruby Connection and Google’s Sudo and women’s meetups.
She said that while the number of women entrepreneurs is growing, technology startups are still mostly composed of men.
Part of the problem is a misperception among women that an ICT background is needed to get into tech startups, she said.
“I don’t know that many female computer programmers and I think many people think you have to know how to code to be in a tech startup. And you don’t.”
A greater availability of practical information on how to launch a tech startup could spur more women to get going, she said. More support groups like Google’s meetups for women could also provide encouragement for female entrepreneurs, she said.
“The barrier between doing something and wanting to do something is, ‘I don’t know how.’”
On the tech startup scene overall, Evans said that Australia’s conservatism remains a barrier to people starting businesses. “Risk taking is frowned upon very often.”
She suggested less coverage of success stories and more news about failures.
“There are so many stories about, ‘I went from zero to $10 million in six months,’” she said.
“That’s really nice, but when you’re starting a startup or before you’ve even put your foot in the water and you’re really nervous because you’re so scared to fail, it’s nice to read how other people failed and then maybe went on to achieve, or failed and said, ‘I don’t regret it.’”
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