How a Startup Called Oppimi Is Changing the Way We Diagnose Learning Disabilities
This is the inaugural post of our Startup Spotlight Series. Each week, we will be featuring a different company working to solve real-world issues through innovative means. We invite you to take a glimpse into the world of entrepreneurship and how it’s changing the world.
Up first is a healthcare startup called Oppimi, and we could not be more excited. Find out why, in this interview with Oppimi’s co-founder and CEO.
1. Tell us a little bit about you and your company.
My name is Ervin Ukaj. I started my career as a project manager and software engineer in Italy. I spent the last 5 years in R&D in Artificial Intelligence applied to handwriting analysis as the R&D Director for a Swiss startup.
During this period, I collaborated with handwriting analysis specialists and became more involved in the debate on how technology can help in dealing with handwriting issues, such as dysgraphia. This experience triggered in me the desire to understand how challenges of learning disabilities can be overcome. I began to become more attuned to problems parents were facing, such as difficulty in finding the right tools and information, and the fact that schools are not equipped to identify learning disabilities in students as soon as possible.
So we came up with the idea of Oppimi. Alongside my co-founders in Montreal, Canada, I am creating solutions to help children cope with learning disabilities. Currently, we are developing and monitoring our tools in four countries –Italy, Romania, India, and Singapore. In this phase, we have built a partnership with the Rotaract-Rotary Club of Romania, a well-known public hospital in Italy, and private clinics in India and Singapore. Oppimi is both international and alphabet-agnostic.
2. What problems are you solving?
Dysgraphia is not a well-known disability. Those affected by it face challenges in their studies and social life, even if they are as smart or smarter than their peers. This, unfortunately, causes a great deal of emotional stress and frustration for kids and parents. It is highly important to identify learning disabilities in children as soon as possible. This way, we can prevent social and educational problems down the road.
With Oppimi, we are creating tools to help children with dysgraphia. These tools test kids’ handwriting skills, propose adapted training, and monitor handwriting abilities to enable assessment and diagnosis of dysgraphia early on.
3. Why are you the ones to solve this problem?
Learning disabilities is a really sensitive field. People living with learning disabilities deserve an efficient solution. At Oppimi, we believe that synergy and collaboration with therapists, educators, and parents are key to creating the best solution for children with learning disabilities.
4. Why is now the time for your company to exist?
Nowadays, technology is evolving very fast and schools are increasingly adopting high-tech tools. However, to be transformative, schools and families need to have the knowledge and skills to take advantage of technology-rich learning environments.
It is our goal to expand the impact of technology in treating learning disabilities. Our platform will be a useful tool for schools, clinics, parents, and most importantly, children.
5. Where will Oppimi be in 3 years?
Dysgraphia is only the first step. Our goal is to create tools that help with all learning disabilities. The data we are collecting is an amazing asset that will help in the development of new approaches and more efficient diagnosis and therapy tools.
6. How do you define success?
To me, success means waking up in the morning feeling happy and proud of what you’re doing, and feeling deeply satisfied because you are surrounded by people who have invaluable experiences to share with you. This is precisely what I’ve been feeling since I started this adventure with my co-founders and team.
7. What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone who is considering taking the leap into entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is really hard. But if you are determined, patient, and careful to set up a great team, it will define the first great step for your company.
The second suggestion I can give is to pay attention to and learn from mistakes that will inevitably happen.
Thirdly, be honest with your team, as they are the key to your success. I became really inspired by Ben Horowitz’s book, “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” –especially by the following quote:
“Take care of people, product, and profit. In this order.”
Originally published at theincubator.io.