Only nine percent of C-level positions—and six percent of CEOs—at European startups are women. Of all the funds raised by European venture capital-backed companies in 2018, a staggering 93 percent went to all-male founding teams. In order to combat this, last year Google for Startups introduced the first Women Founders Residency at our Campus in London—one of seven Campuses around the world—to back women-led startups using technology to tackle key social issues. Founders receive access to Google products, resources, and mentoring to level the playing field for startup success. The program proved so successful that we are now currently accepting applications for the second Women Founders cohort.
To learn more about the Google for Startups Residency, we chatted with Elina Naydenova: biomedical engineer, data scientist and founder of Feebris, a healthcare startup that graduated from Campus Residency in 2019. Not based in the UK? Explore other Google for Startups places and programs for founders of all backgrounds at startup.google.com.
What inspired you to start found Feebris? What problem are you trying to solve?
Healthcare should be a human right; yet, millions of people can’t get the care they need, when they need it. It’s unacceptable that in 2019, we can do our communications, our banking, our navigation, our shopping at a touch of a button, but still nearly one million children die of pneumonia because it gets diagnosed too late.
When I realized these deaths can be avoided through early diagnosis, I became obsessed with solving the problem. We set up Feebris so that the most vulnerable patients—children and the elderly—can diagnose pneumonia early. The Feebris AI platform lets anyone capture and interpret important health information in order to identify disease early and monitor conditions in the community. Feebris algorithms paired with sensors, such as digital stethoscopes, can be used by anyone, such as a teacher or a parent, in any remote area to detect issues early, avoid complications and prevent hospitalization.
How did Google for Startups Residency help you achieve your goals?
The most valuable training we received from Residency was how to implement an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework for our startup. When we started Residency, we were going through due diligence with investors, so we worked with a senior Googler to set clear goals. This gave our investors confidence in our ability to map out our journey and identify appropriate milestones, and we went on to close our seed round of £1.1 million. Striking a balance between structure and agility is tremendously important in tech, and even more so for a startup. Residency gave us the right tools to forge a framework that we continue to follow and adapt as we evolve.
Second, the pool of expertise and deep knowledge that Google offers to the Residency startups is second to none. We’ve been connected with the leading experts in technology, like TensorFlow or ChromeOS, to help us develop core product functionality and our technical infrastructure.
Third, as a health technology startup, credibility is hugely important as we grow our footprint with healthcare providers. Residency provided us with a public platform to share our story and build awareness for the work we are doing, from public speaking opportunities to media articles.
What does Residency offer that is different than a traditional accelerator or other program you've attended?
Support at Campus is personalized to your needs and led by people who have successfully launched and scaled startups. Unlike the one-size-fits-all classroom programs, Residency is focused on unlocking opportunities and removing barriers for each business individually.
Over time, build relationships with people you like and admire because they might become your future dream team.
What does Google 1:1 mentorship offer you specifically? What were the most helpful takeaways?
Our Google mentor, Vitor Rodriguez, was generous with his time and advice. He has built a career at Google and also worked in a startup, so he understood the challenges we faced. Vitor spent hours with us, thinking through software architecture options and nurturing our ability to make scalable decisions. Vitor was our conduit into the immense pool of Google knowledge. He helped us analyze the problems that we faced and connected us with domain experts who hold essential insights to reach a solution. Vitor also taught us how to conduct highly technical interviews and cut through the wall of jargon that candidates build to reach a true evaluation of their abilities.
Mentorship also helped us recruit some of our key hires. We went in as a team of two, and by the end had grown to six. The Googlers we worked with during Residency helped us structure evaluation criteria and even conducted technical interviews with us, proving fundamental to the recruitment process.
What advice would you want to share with other founders?
Prioritize hiring, even when you are not hiring. As a founder, finding the right people is one of the most important jobs you have. But it can take a long time and you don’t want to feel rushed and get it wrong. Over time, build relationships with people you like and admire because they might become your future dream team.