Nova’s 2020 Tech Startup Programme Now Open - click here to apply
Updated 25 October 18
Meet Richard, down-to-earth dad, successful sales advisor, and founder of picturepath, the app which helps children with special educational needs visualise a timeline of their daily activities.
“My brother teases me that I’ve always been someone who’s wanted to make a difference.”
Having spent over 15 years in sales and key account management, Richard decided to make a big change when his son was born 6 years ago. “My wife and I took the decision that I’d be the parent who’d carry out the bulk of the childcare when she returned to work.”, he explains. “I couldn’t continue to travel all over the country for my job, so I set up a sales business, working around my son’s nursery and school hours”.
From quitting his day job to setting up a side business so that he could look after his son, Freddie, it’s obvious Richard has an inherent entrepreneurial streak. “My brother teases me that I’ve always been someone who’s wanted to make a difference”, he laughs.
Funnily enough, it was Freddie who was Richard’s inspiration for his latest venture, picturepath. When Freddie was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum at the age of 3, it explained why he struggled with processing information. “Unless he sees it visually, he can’t easily understand it”.
The most useful technique Richard and his family were shown to help was a ‘visual timeline’. “Very simply, you print and laminate pictures of activities like having breakfast or getting dressed and attach them to a velcro timeline in the order you plan to do them”, he explains. “Freddie hates not knowing what’s coming up in his day, so it was fantastic. It really helped calm him down because he knew what to expect next”.
For Richard, however, it still had its downsides. “The endless printing, laminating, sticking velcro and then carrying a bag or book of symbols around everywhere you go is quite a nuisance for the parents!”, he tells us. So, just like most, Richard turned to the App Store searching for a similar digital version. When it turned out there was nothing suitable, his journey as a founder began; “I thought I’ll just make one [an app], how hard could it be?”.
“The free advice and support Nova provided in the run up to pitching for investment was invaluable.”
Richard’s first introduction to the team at Nova was a real eye opener. “When I first met Katie-Rose, one of Nova’s startup consultants, I loved her enthusiasm and felt comfortable straight away”.
“The free advice and support I received in the run up to pitch for investment was invaluable. By following Nova’s methodologies, bouncing ideas off each other, and working with early adopters, we were able to pin down what picturepath really is and work out how it could help children just like Freddie”.
Having done it once before, Richard embraced the unpredictable journey of starting a business. “I took the view that if it didn’t go anywhere, it wasn’t a problem. I’d had some really great advice, and more importantly, I hadn’t risked anything”. As Nova doesn’t ask founders to put in any money themselves and only require that they work one day a week on their startup, entrepreneurs really have nothing to lose by giving their business idea a go.
“From the wonderful logo and brand to the brilliant work developing the web app, the support from the whole team has been great.”
Together with Nova’s ready made team of developers, designers, marketers, product owners and startup consultants, Richard put all his energy into delivering picturepath. “We’ve just launched picturepath in the Google Play and App Stores and it’s also being used by several schools. The initial feedback has been incredible and we’re using this to refine and improve our product”.
“Nova have been a fantastic partner throughout the process. From the wonderful logo and brand to the brilliant work developing the web app, the support from the whole team has been great”, he adds.
When it comes to the future of picturepath, Richard’s determination and passion is clear. “We have some pretty ambitious goals for continued growth, but if word of mouth continues like this, I’m sure we’ll hit them. Once we achieve our next round of funding, I also plan to devote myself full-time to picturepath, so I’m excited to see what’s in store”.
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