A size market of 7.6 billion people looks unrealistic for setting up a business plan, but considering that we all occasionally get sick and need to follow a prescription, the figure is not a fake one. Dwak (“Your medicine”, in its Arab origin) is an app designed to help patients, caregivers, pharmacists and hospitals to follow up with prescriptions. We all forget to take our tablet or apply a cream for a rush, but not to follow the prescription in acute cases may end up with the patient´s life. “Around 124.000 US citizens die for skipping their prescribed medication,” explain Yahya Iqelan, CEO and co-founder of Dwak, a startup born in the family conversations. “My sister is a pharmacist (and Dwak co-founder) and she came to me with the problem, so with my IT background I started to work on the solution,” he says. In their trial and error stage, they identified the problem and named the solution: reminders and follow up with pharmacies, caregivers and doctors. Dwak app requests scanning the medication and sends the reminders to the patient. The premium version will include delivery of the medication and some features for caregivers.
Their journey started in November 2016. They are in the Incubator of the Science and Innovation Park (UAEU) since January 2017, and got their first validation in the Challenge for Innovation contest. A pharmacy in Al Ain (UAE) became their partner to test the app. In September they went to Denmark, this month won the Pitch at the Palace contest and they had their own booth at FutureStars, the Gitex 2017 startup section in Dubai. “Pitch at the Palace gave us the potential to grow globally,” he says.
Every stage was a learning milestone, and their biggest challenge is not the Apple or the Android stores, but to partner with the right companies. “From 0 to 10, the difficulty in the process is 7”, Yahya says. Dwak team already restructured to get some people off the bus and bring some other ones in. Currently there are five members –pharmacist Fatima Iqelan, nutritionist Shahd Alabadla, business managers Steve Kranz and Mansour Alkaabi, and the IT guy, Yahya Iqelan-, and they want to partner with stakeholders treating patients, but they are not planning to sell their project.
The European market is very important one with 500 million people, but it will be a tough one to enter due to privacy issues[i] regarding the medical information of its citizens. “To reach the European and the US market we have to keep patient information in privacy, not accessible for anyone,” Yahya explains.
Dwak app will be available in 2018. “We are running the pilot test and it has to be 100% free of errors. It is a sensible market, so 99% is not acceptable,” he sentenced. So next time you sneeze, search on your app store if Dwak is already there. And clean your nose too.
[i] European citizens´ data is a big concern for European authorities. The European Court of Justice will have to consider whether Facebook’s Dublin-based subsidiary can legally transfer users’ personal data to its U.S. parent, after an Irish top court stated that there are “well-founded concerns” the practice violates European law (the case started after former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden revealed the electronic surveillance by American security agencies).