[Startup story] iCamin | Rubik Garage Accelerator 2022 Batch
August 25, 2022
First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.
Hi! Here’s Alexandru Constantin, founder of iCamin.ro and owner of a nursing home. Actually, my parents have funded the nursing home more than 10 years ago and I take the legacy further. Several years ago I quit my job as a manager in a telecommunications company and literally moved into the nursing home back in 2017 so I would better understand the domain and how can I contribute more.
Tell us more about iCamin. What problem do you solve? Who’s your audience?
My first frustration since I started managing the nursing home was that we were spending way too much time on papers instead of truly understanding the needs and serving the real needs of the elderly. Moreover, when auditors were visiting us they would repeatedly tell us “OK I see here is a great atmosphere, the place looks like heaven, the elderly are happy and the living conditions are very good, but I will still check your papers”. To wrap it around, we’ve built an internal tool that would help us get done with the papers 10 X faster, and so we would have the proper time to truly take care of our grannies, while we’re bulletproof on papers.
For the moment we are focusing we are addressing to the private nursing homes in Romania, but we consider to explore other geographers as well in the near future.
What motivated you to create this startup? What’s your „why”?
When I found myself managing the nursing home founded by my parents, I realized that this would be a very complex activity that would require 24/7 presence in order for things to go really well and for that activity to be sustainable in the long run.
I’ve figured out that a digital management solution would declutter a lot of the bureaucracy and day-to-day tasks. It would even allow me as an owner to appoint an administrator to properly manage the nursing home and follow specific flows and procedures.
It started as a management solution only for our nursing home, but last year a medical doctor visited us and saw how our medical assistants (nurses) are using the application on the tablet or smartphone and they’re having all the needed information at their fingertips right away. The doctor was very surprised and asked us to also implement our solution in the public hospital he was working in. Obviously, we’ve considered it complicated to enter the public medical sector, but eventually, we discussed with managers from other nursing homes around the country and quickly found out that most of them felt the need for improvements and believed that a management solution would help.
How is your startup different from competitors?
Long story short, there is no direct competitor in Romania, but there is still some friction in many nursing homes because of their habits to work with pen and paper, which we consider to be our main competitor in our ambition to digitize the nursing home sector in Romania. Of course, there is other medical software out there but the flows are very different, the procedures and the documents. Still, there is no nursing home management solution at least in Romania.
Do you have a team supporting you in your mission?
We have an extended team if we think that we are using the entire environment from our own nursing home when considering developing and testing new parts of the product. There is also my brother who’s a legal advisor and has taken over the role of CEO at the nursing home while I as a founder can focus entirely on scaling iCamin. There is also a network of mentors and advisors that helps us reveal our blindspots down the road, such as Rubik Hub and Launch Community. There is also the development team and the colleagues from customer success that keep the wheels spinning.
What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?
The biggest reward is that all the small steps matter a lot so I feel real joy when we meet each new customer that recognizes the value iCamin brings to their organization.
On the contrary, what are the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge is that most of the marketplace we are in is still not very aware and comfortable with that technology and digital alternatives in the working place and sometimes people are afraid to take the leap of faith in changing their current way of doing things.
What made you apply to our accelerator Rubik Garage?
We know the Rubik Hub and Rubik team and the entire environment they provide for a long time and, finally, this was a great opportunity for us to interact more. We definitely know that there are a lot of things that we don’t know. We understand that along the journey of a startup we need to keep our eyes wide open while also relying on a set of sensors and cameras to complement what we see with what it really is out there. That is what provides Rubik Garage for us.
What are your top 3 learnings of the acceleration program?
- Do something that matters. For you and your customers.
- How you sell it and how you provide service is more important than what you do.
- Systems are a necessity when aiming big.
What do you like in the Rubikorns Startup Community?
The motherly community that takes care of us and that does everything it takes to push us for development.
What are your plans for iCamin for the next 6-12 months?
Raising awareness around the country so that all the early adopters would have tested the application in this period. Gathering valuable insights from other geographies to test the opportunity of expanding abroad.
What message do you have for other startup founders?
It is very easy to fall in love with your own thoughts and your own ideas and it is essential to understand if there are enough users or customers for what you want to make.
As a founder, one can invest the same amount of time, money or energy in two different projects. One may fail because of a lack of interest of a minimum amount of users, the second one may be successful because there are enough people that value the product or service. Sometimes too much innovation may prolong the time needed for adoption. If possible, think of a minimum amount of innovation required for starting and validating, then include the most innovative stuff step by step.
What is your special power?
I have a particular set of skills that allows me to understand new concepts and analyze them 360°, stress test them.
Stay tuned to discover the story behind the other startups from the Rubik Garage accelerator! #WeAreInThisTogether
Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE. We are helping early-stage startups get to their first paying customer, raise investment or go international.
The accelerator started with a Founders Bootcamp in Piatra Neamt. Four months of acceleration will culminate with a Demo Day in September, where startups get the chance to pitch their startup in front of investors. For the most motivated teams, the journey will continue in the next 6-12 months – our team will offer their full support to help them raise an investment round.
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