Ewan Marshall and Adi Kasliwal launched Speakset back in January 2013 in a bid to solve social loneliness and provide remote healthcare for older people across the UK.
Both Ewan and Adi had enviable careers – after finishing degrees in physics and engineering respectively, Ewan joined Vodafone and Adi worked as a software engineer for McLaren. But something wasn’t right, they felt they were capable of doing more.
“We realised that we could have far more impact if we didn’t work for big companies and did something that could actually have quite a big difference to people’s lives,” said Ewan, “That’s where Speakset came from.”
Speakset is a video calling system which allows healthcare workers contact their patients and allows patients to contact friends, family and health professionals.
Solving the problem of elderly isolation in the UK was the key motivator behind Speakset. According to a recent Age UK campaign over one million older people say they go over a month without speaking to friends or family members and the loneliness this causes can have an impact on physical health.
Speakset solves this – users can contact friends or family relatively easily through their TV, a technology most older people are comfortable using. Ewan says, “our biggest successes is the fact that we’ve built a really good product that people really love to use.”
Speakset has seen considerable growth in turnover and impact since its launch in 2013. The firm joined the Big Venture Challenge programme led by UnLtd in 2014 and received 12 months of support to get the venture ready for investment and growth.
The duo knew attracting investment would be vital from the beginning. “We’d proved the concept and got the product made, at that point it was all about scaling up sales and that’s what the investment allowed us to do.”
Revenue has since grown astonishingly quickly, approaching 1,000% a year. This is due in part to the social investment allowing more time to be spent on sales. In the last 18 months the number of customers, usually large care providers or CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups), has also grown from four to 22.
Their ambitions for the future remain to change the face of healthcare provision so slowing down is not an option according to Ewan – “We’ve had a lot of growth, but we’re still relatively small and it’s a very big problem we’re trying to solve. We don’t see any reason why we should slow down, there’s also the rest of the world to take on as well.”
Having seen Speakset change so many lives, Ewan firmly believes remote care is the future: “Care is changing really rapidly – people have long-term conditions, they’re staying at home with conditions they live with for years and years of their lives.
“It seems a bit mad that we walk to the hospital to go and see a doctor, it hasn’t really changed since Florence Nightingale was doing her rounds.
“It’s a very different world and healthcare hasn’t really kept up with that. So that’s what we’re trying to change and we won’t really rest until it’s done.”
For the Speakset founders however – the results they say on a daily basis are their key motivators, not the company’s rising turnover.
Ewan concluded: “Every day at 8am I see it happen on the logs, I see someone with learning difficulties is reminded to take some medication.
“We’re actually having an impact on someone’s life, a really basic part of someone’s life, but we’re really integral to it.”