Photo by Florian Pappert / eCovery and Daniel Reiche / eCovery
We talked to Marcus Rehwald, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of eCovery about digitized rehab and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marcus Rehwald: It’s tough, to be honest. Just recently, my daughter joined our family, and therefore it is quite nice to be at home more often and see her grow up. For kids at that age, the lockdown measures don’t mean a lot since they have their parents around, and that’s all that counts in the first year. But I can imagine there is a lot of pressure on kids that are a little bit older – and on their families for sure. We are lucky to be healthy and optimistic, though.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded eCovery.
Marcus Rehwald: My roots are in legal and business administration. I passed the first state law examination and studied business administration. At the same time, I helped a student’s business organization to grow up and be successful. But after university, it turned out that being a lawyer wouldn’t satisfy me for my whole life – and I had always been interested in new businesses and startups. That’s when I started reaching out to interesting founders and their business models – and found Alexander and Benedict, who were about to shoot for the moon with eCovery. A couple of months later, we found ourselves back in the “SpinLab” accelerator in Leipzig, located in a former cotton factory and with loads of space to innovate. This was where we refined our idea and finally put all our knowledge into one company – eCovery GmbH was born.
How does eCovery innovate?
Marcus Rehwald: We now have 13 very impressive heads in our company – all of them with different skills and expertise, from sports sciences to medicine to artificial intelligence or movement sensors. We have a psychologist to care about motivational questions and someone to make sure our products and processes are always best in class and ready to meet all expectations of approval processes. This diverse and pretty international team helps us to push the developers to new levels every week – and they love this since we all share a common vision: We want to bring medical knowledge and sports therapy content to as many people as possible as quickly as possible, so that everyone who needs it can support his/her own health actively at home, in the living room, but with medically proven exercises. That’s what pushes all of us forward, and that’s where innovation takes place – backed up by our inspiring environment at the SpinLab and our network in healthcare, regulations, clinics, and for sure economics.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marcus Rehwald: Corona hit us right after we had closed our first financing round. Luckily we had the power to then keep the whole team on board and change some of our plans quickly. So we were able to focus on the product and take the time of the first lockdown to talk to a lot of people, learn about the market, test some of our prototypes and make the whole product more appealing to the patients. When we then officially announced our first therapy app – for knee rehabilitation at home – people were impressed, and we achieved a very warm welcome at the app stores. So far, the pandemic is rather pushing our cause than anything else: Digitization is everywhere, and people get used to doing stuff at home – including therapy and rehabilitation exercises.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marcus Rehwald: The most important question is not the product but the team. We had to make some difficult choices in terms of the team setup, and it took us ages to form the right team, find some experts to build our app, and create a team spirit that brings us closer to our vision every day. This team-building process was the most important and most exhausting task in the last 12 months – but now it’s a source of energy every day for all of us! Lesson learned in MedTech: Hire for attitude AND skills and find the right balance.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are helping you navigate the crisis?
Marcus Rehwald: Each of us is working pretty independently, our cloud services connect everyone, so we’re fine to work from home. While eCovery is in Leipzig, some of our developers are located in the south of Germany. Our sales representative is currently working from Lissabon, and everybody else is currently at home and happy with that. Our tool stack also includes a quality assurance system and typical project management tools such as Confluence, Jira, and Slack.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marcus Rehwald: We see a lot of movement in the healthcare sector and some other ideas that come close to the original idea of eCovery. But actually, we see this more as a supportive movement that puts some pressure on healthcare providers. We also see that it’s quite a challenge to build a high-quality (and therefore appealing) medical therapy app. So give the new kids on the block some time to explore – and then we’ll be able to see who stays in the game. From an international angle, providers like Hinge Health or Sword Health seem to do an amazing job in growth and innovation. We’re curious to see where they are going, and we hope to get in touch with them because we have the same goal: To push everybody’s healthcare support to the next level.
Your final thoughts?
Marcus Rehwald: I hope that one of the good reactions to this global pandemic is a massive push in digital services and digital processes. We have all been forced to take one step here – and I hope we don’t take this back but keep moving. There could be so much more people profiting from digital services and medical knowledge. Hopefully, Corona means a breakthrough here and leads to something positive, too.
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