Being on the brink of almost doubling their staff and attracting new investors, ZenzeTech Co-founders Magdalena Paul and Christian Bygballe Haahr have recently decided to re-enter the DeepTech Mentoring programme by DTU Science Park for the third time.
“This time, our focus is on how to develop ourselves as leaders and how we build the culture in the team. Now, we have six employees and want to hire five more, and the two of us are moving towards being more management than being hands-on on everything,” Co-founder and COO Magdalena Paul says.
Mentor teams for both basic and special needs
“Currently, we have a mentor team with different approaches to leadership, and it has been crucial for our development as leaders,” Magdalena Paul says.
The first time ZenzeTech entered the DeepTech Mentoring programme in 2020, the founders had some more basic needs.
“Back then, the focus was basically on how to build and run a startup – and tapping into areas we had no experience in,” Magdalena Paul says.
So ZenzeTech got a mentor team of three people with experience in product development, regulations and business, respectively.
“At meetings, the mentors are really good at listening to us and quickly identify something critical to our business we maybe went over a bit too fast,” Co-founder and CEO Christian Bygballe Haahr says.
Be honest and well-prepared for mentor meetings
The best advice the two founders can give to other companies entering the mentoring programme is to be honest, well-prepared and open to the inputs from the mentors during meetings to get the most out of it. The mentors will have no stakes in the company, and nothing said will leave the room.
“We wouldn’t be here to this day without our first mentor team because we were such a green and new startup. So it was critical,” Christian Bygballe Haahr says.
ZenzeTech was founded in 2020. But the journey started a bit earlier when the pharmaceutical company Lundbeck looked for a solution that could validate medicine for Parkinson’s in the early stages and clinical trials to save money.
“At that point, we were still DTU students and wrote our thesis about this project. Here, we started interviewing Parkinson’s patients,” Christian Bygballe Haahr says.
Later they founded ZenzeTech, and today, they have interviewed more than 150 Parkinson’s patients.
Mentor encouraged ZenzeTech to change direction
During the interviews, they stumbled upon a problem with the medication. Parkinson’s patients typically have a short consultation with a neurologist every six months at best. Here, it is hard for the patients to remember details about how the disease has affected them since the last consultation, which makes medical adjustments harder.
ZenzeTech then decided to develop an intelligent insole placed in the patient’s shoes to measure pressure, acceleration and angular speed. They are now able to monitor gait parameters like speed, step length, asymmetry, freezing of gait, shuffling gait, and falls.
These day-to-day data will make it much easier for the neurologist to adjust the medicine of the Parkinson’s patient.
“So encouraged by one of our first mentors, we changed direction away from the pharmaceutical business to focus completely on the medication of Parkinson’s patients. We made it our mission to improve their quality of life,” Christian Bygballe Haahr concludes.