A little over a year ago, Tendo moved to Odense from Sweden to join the Odense Robotics Startup Hub. A great many things have happened since Sofie Woge, Founder and CEO of Tendo, and her team first moved to Denmark in March 2017. In this article, Sofie talks about the highs and lows of Tendo’s first year in the StartUp Hub.
How is your prototype coming along?
Good. We finished our first one in August last year and we’re now working on the third. We call it our demo version as this prototype will be closer to the final product. It’s not ready yet, but we will be able to use the first two for actual testing.We hope to have the demo version done by this year.
A big focus of ours is creating a textile version of the glove – as wearable and soft as possible. We are far from textile experts though so it is a challenge, but we have been lucky to receive a lot of help from Sweden: the Swedish School of Textiles: University of Borås, and from Denmark: Design School Kolding.
We are also working on usability and focusing on what’s important for the individual. The goal is to tailor the glove to be a part of the users’ lives and not disturb their personal identities.
What were your biggest achievements over the past year?
Our first functioning prototype was so big and bulky! But it was a big step for us, and from there we made a lot of adjustments. Having the prototype also improved our communication with the medical community as they could now get a better understanding of our product. And the second prototype allows us to get better and clearer user cases. This is what the whole journey has been leading up to.
It was an emotional experience seeing our first test user put on the glove for the first time. He didn’t have to learn how to operate it – he just knew. After that we had such a big celebration. The work we do is challenging so we make sure to celebrate our successes. I must say that it is overwhelming the amount of people ready to support us and believe in us; when we were starting out two years ago, we would have never imagined that we would one day get over 3 million SEK investment deal.
Another highlight I would like to mention happened back in November 2017 when we received the Entrepreneurial Odense award. It felt terrific to get that acclaim and attention here in a foreign country, which is now our home.
What kind of challenges did you encounter over the past year?
Running a company and assembling my team were challenges – I had never run a business before. I recruited the people I believed in and luckily it turned out for the best. Things like the Danish tax system and bookkeeping were initial challenges too, and we did encounter some tech challenges when trying to understand the whole medical industry with its regulations and limitations. To be honest, at times we still catch ourselves thinking we should have gotten further, but when we stop and look back we can see how much we have accomplished and how fast we actually worked.
What factors have been the most important in getting you to where you are now?
One of the best decisions we made was to move to Odense. The environment and the people in the Hub and the Technological Institute have been terrific.
For us, the best thing about the collaboration has been to have skilled and helpful people right there alongside us. The Odense Robotics name and the network that comes with it have been incredible as the biggest help is being able to spar with the right people. We have also received tremendous help from Invest in Odense, Deloitte, and Danske Bank as well as other educational institutes and companies, and now also DigitaliseringsBoost and InnoBooster. We have also signed new collaboration contracts with MicroTechnic and three other partners with support from DigitaliseringsBoost.
Where do you see the company one year from now?
We hope to have launched our product on the market by then and have implemented other parts of our business plan. I would also like us to have started on a new version of our prototype and new solutions for the hand. We have learned a lot over the past year and we would like to expand our product portfolio to other user needs and body parts. I would also love to expand the team – that would be great.