Interview for Digital Health Pitch Battle Winner

Interview for Digital Health Pitch Battle Winner

How does your startup leverage emerging technologies, such as AI or virtual reality, to improve patient welfare and health outcomes?

Our mission at Nixi for Children is to make sure that children all around the world have all the information they deserve before starting any treatment. Information empowers them, so they can face their treatments without fear. In order to do that we use different technologies that allow us to gamify treatments and to inform the youngest patients, such as VR tours of the operating room. For example, in our VR Preparation for surgery, Nixi, our 3D animation character, shows children around the hospital in an immersive way so when they “come back” to the hospital for the first time they already know the protocols and are less fearful of the health professionals.

What led you to the decision of addressing patient anxiety, especially in children?

The company was born after an investigation that I did while studying Experience Design at EINA University. This investigation had the goal to identify needs inside a pediatric hospital that could be fixed using technology. After a few months of investigation and a lot of interviews, it was clear to us that there was a lack of tools for the professionals at the hospital to properly train children before difficult procedures such as surgeries. These kinds of procedures create a lot of apprehension in children and their families, which leads to anxiety. Giving the proper information is proven to make the overall experience less stressful. 60 - 80% of children undergoing surgery suffer preoperative anxiety, that leads to secondary effects on their health, so this is a huge problem that needs to be solved.

Can you share any specific success stories or case studies of how your technology has been implemented and made a difference in the healthcare sector?

After our first clinical trial was published about anxiety reduction before surgery, we were really excited to try our technology in other areas of the hospital. Of course, the first thing that popped into our heads was oncology. This is when we started collaborating with The Ricky Rubio Foundation and Vall d’Hebron Hospital to test Nixi for preparing children for radiotherapy treatment. In this case, we had an even bigger challenge. The younger children (3 to 6 years old) are so fearful most of the time, they must be sedated under anesthesia, as they need to be still for five minutes inside an empty room where the radiotherapy machine is – this can mean children are sedated every day for 30 to 40 days. The investigation led by Vall d’Hebron Hospital has been amazingly successful. So far 100% of the children trained with Nixi before the radiotherapy, underwent treatment without sedation, completely awake!

Introducing digital innovations in healthcare systems, and specifically in hospitals, is often a challenging task for a startup. Partnerships are key to overcoming barriers and speeding up market adoption. Can you tell us about your main partners and how you work together to generate impact?

We all know that healthcare is hard, but on the other hand we found hundreds of extremely involved medical professionals. Not only doctors but nurses, child life specialists and psychologists who are willing to devote their free time to helping us entrepreneurs create products that make life for the patients a little bit better. Everyday life in the hospitals is frenetic, so it’s extremely important for a young startup like ours to find the right partners to work with who ensure your voice is heard. In our case, we are extremely grateful to Hospital Germans Trias, The Ricky Rubio Foundation, Hospital Vall d’Hebron, DKV, Fiatc and Roche, among others.

How do you envision the future of healthcare and how does your startup contribute to that vision?

In the past few years, technology has advanced so rapidly that we have become somehow blinded by all the medical advancements that it has brought. But there’s a huge trend that still has to explode: humanisation. This is a big word that we are hearing more and more every day, but the amount of work that still needs to be done is enormous. I feel that one of the challenges for the next 5 to 10 years in healthcare is to make healthcare more human again, and I am excited to see what all the designers, creatives, entrepreneurs and researchers will be able to create for the patient experience.

What is the latest news from your company (closing a funding round/entering a new market) or the next exciting milestone you are about to achieve?

Our biggest challenge at the moment is penetrating the US market. We landed our first collaborations there with some of the most renowned hospitals in the world, such as the Cleveland Clinic, and our goal is to reach 10 pediatric hospitals by 2024. We are also really excited because our product is getting better every day and we have new projects for different illnesses and treatments with amazing partners that will be announced soon.

Please tell us about your experience as an exhibitor at 4YFN23. What were the benefits for your startup in terms of business development, exposure and connections with potential business partners, investors and others?

When you travel around the world and visit different expositions and congresses you realise how valuable 4YFN is and how blessed we are to have it in our city, Barcelona. I would fall short in describing the benefits of attending such an event, but the fact that next year we will have a specific healthcare section at 4YFN makes me feel that we still have the best years to come in our sector.

How should startups prepare to exhibit at 4YFN24? What actions should they take ahead of the event to make the most out of their time onsite?

Plan your top 10 meetings ahead of time and make sure you have the most social and energised team members in your booth. Contacts and connections happen every day and everywhere, just talk to everyone you can.

You have won the 4YFN23 Digital Health pitch battle after pitching to investors from Nina Capital, Inveready and Hans(wo)menGroup. What did winning the pitch battle mean for your startup?

It was flattering and a great honour, especially because at Nixi for Children we haven’t needed financing support from VCs so far, so getting their blessing and advice was really meaningful.

What words of advice can you give other startups pitching at 4YFN24 Digital Health pitch battle? How can they best prepare?

Investors have heard thousands if not millions of pitches similar to yours. Make it personal and tell a story. Don’t just tell them the numbers, communicate you and your team’s passion for the problem you are solving.

How did it affect your journey to becoming an entrepreneur and innovating to make the world a better place?

Back in 2018, Nixi for Children was just an idea. I was a design student and had zero contact with the entrepreneurial world, so I knew I had to visit 4YFN. To get my ticket I volunteered for one week assembling attendees’ bracelets and badges before the event. The first person I met was Emili Aldabó from ACCIÓ, who has been extremely helpful over the past few years. He didn’t know me at all but introduced me to Núria Pastor and Unai Sánchez from Human IT Care. Their energy and ethics inspire me to this day.