Hugo Richard of Dystech tells us about dyslexia screening reimagined.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hugo Richard: I am doing well. Being based in Australia, we have been lucky in regards to the number of cases. My family lives in Europe, and for them, it’s a little different. They can feel the weight of the restriction of how COVID affected their day-to-day life.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Dystech.
Hugo Richard: am an Entrepreneur, I started as a printer and slowly learned about tech, innovation and how SaaS company are changing the world. One of my co-founders, Mathieu, made a joke one day about having software that could help dyslexics individuals around the world. I took the joke seriously, and along with Gilles & Jim, the other 2 co-founders, we started Dystech.
How does Dystech innovate?
Hugo Richard: Dystech has developed an algorithm using machine learning to assess the likelihood of dyslexia by analyzing audio recordings. Our technology is one of the most accessible and reliable tools out there to assess dyslexia. We are supporting allied health professionals and parents to assess multiple aspects of literacy with a high degree of automation.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Hugo Richard: 2020 was a big year for us. We had multiple conferences in the US and Europe to which we could not attend due to COVID. Multiple potential contracts with government agencies have been postponed. As a result, our financial projections were thrown out of the window, and we had to hold on financially until things start to kick off again. It’s been really hard.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Hugo Richard: We had to cut loose some of the people we were working with temporarily. I had to take a side job to be able to sustain myself financially. I think one of the big lessons learned is that nothing should be taken for granted, things change, and when they do, you need to be able to make fair adjustments and keep the morale up.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Hugo Richard: Most of the conversations with customers stopped due to COVID. They also had to adjust their priority, and adopting new technology was not one of them.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Hugo Richard: We are lucky here in Australia; the government has been supportive of small businesses and individuals by providing salary payments and grants to support businesses around the country. Those grants helped us in a big way, allowing us to keep developing our product and continuing our research at a reduced speed.
Your final thoughts?
Hugo Richard: COVID has impacted every industry, and now that it is behind us, it has become our responsibility to work even harder to reboot the economy and make our society a safe and innovative space.