Here's What Up Accelerate Startups Learned and the Challenges they Faced

Next week, on the 5th of October, Up Accelerate will be holding a Demo day for its Cycle II winners. The event will take place at Imperial Royale Hotel. The Demo day has become the tradition that concludes four months of intensive Boot camps the finalists of the program are subjected to.

The Demo day will see presentations from Ecosmartpads, Health data harvesters, mScan, and iDrain. Actually, iDrain was part of the finalists in the first cycle - the team was unable to present at the demo day for reasons we weren't able to find out.

So, it will replace Blood Finder on the list - a team we are also yet to find out why they are not able to do a presentation this Demo day.

In a bid to establish what these startups have learned so far, we carried out a follow-up and here's what they had to say.

  1. Ecosmartpads

They aim to tackle the problem of women and girls from low-income backgrounds unable to afford sanitary pads. These, the team says, resort to using unhealthy and rudimentary ways during menstruation.

Their solution is to recycle sugarcane bagasse from which they'll make biodegradable pads and the ultimate goal is to sell them at half the price of the existing pads on the market.

[caption id="attachment_2414" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo Credit: Innov8tiv[/caption]

In a call with Asiimwe Lydia, the team leader,  she informed us that there's a lot of connections and networks they have built from the program.

"Outbox has a lot of people to help you move your project forward. We were able to access a vast network of expats and mentors as well as people who have been there before us in the field of innovation and startups. They have really helped to push us forward." - Lydia

2. Health Data Harvester

[caption id="attachment_2395" align="aligncenter" width="1080"] The Health Data Harvesters Team at this year's Young Achiever's Awards[/caption]

The team's solution is a web-based platform or mobile app to address the problem of manual patient data collection.

The end goal is to digitize the process for the medical professionals conducting medical camps and outreaches outside the hospital structures.

Also read: 10 Teams Shortlisted for the Up Accelerate Pitch Day

They hope that the data collected using the app should be more accurate, secure and easily transferable onto a hospital database.

Jacqueline Mutumba, who is the team leader, informed us that their "experience in the up accelerate program has been quite eye-opening."

"We learned how to focus on our end user during the development process by using the principle of human-centered design. We gained business support and valuable partnerships through this program," - Jacqueline.

"The entire program was tailored to help us launch our startup in a challenging economic environment. Another positive outcome was the mentorship and coaching offered by Richard Zulu and his team. The check-ins kept us on track," she added.

3. M-Scan

The team's solution is an ultrasonic probe and software aimed at supporting ultrasound scanning in low-resource areas so as to address the problem of inadequate ultrasound services.

Innocent Menyo, the team leader, admitted that the program has been great in different areas.

"We really learned much about prototyping and financials. I'd rate it 9/10," he said before adding that they "joined the program without mentors with expertise in prototyping and specifically the areas we were doing. But we have been able to secure mentors."

4. iDrain

This is an improved chest drainage system that removes the pleural accumulation of patients (new mothers). iDrain seeks to solve the growing problem of using mineral water bottles in hospitals to drain pleural effusions.

Amos Mutebi, the team leader, agreed with all other colleagues that "the program, in general, was really helpful" though citing no specific area.

[caption id="attachment_2413" align="aligncenter" width="640"] iDrain Team[/caption]

When we asked them about the challenges they faced and how the program can be made better, Lydia said that "the time awarded to the teams to execute activities is limited."

"We were a team that had started from proof of concept and a prototype which was tricky at the time yet were expected to go through all the stages until the product is ready for market," she added.

Another person that shared the same challenge with Lydia is Jacqueline. She says the "only challenge was limited time to absorb all the valuable knowledge they had to offer."

The two went ahead to suggest that the program should consider increasing the time to at least 6 months.

Amos's challenge was the fact that they had to travel from Mbarara to Kampala on a regular basis yet both him and his team member were students. Otherwise, he did not find any challenges with the program.

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