Afroditi Konidari is the CEO and co-founder of the Cardiff based start-up TenderTec. She shares her touching story of how the tech for good company got started and the passion and drive behind what they do. They have created personalised technology that is able to sense emergencies within the homes of seniors, so if you are living away from your loved one, if anything were to happen it wouldn’t go unnoticed and allows seniors and vulnerable people to keep their independence. Genius!
She shares her advice for anybody wanting to start their own business, and encourages them not to let life and family plans hold you back from achieving your dreams and goals.
You are the CEO and co-founder behind TenderTec what does your day-to-day look like?
We recently closed our pre-seed round so the past few months we’ve been busy with fundraising, growing our team and planning pilots for our next phase of development. My day to day has included engaging with investors to finalise investment agreements, interviewing on average 2-3 candidates per day, networking and submitting proposals to get pilots with Councils and care providers. Fundraising and recruiting are full-time jobs in their own right so it’s been a tough period trying to fit 48+ hours of work in a day. Having a co-founder to share the journey and the load has made it possible to deliver on all fronts.
Why did you decide to start TenderTec?
Tendertec is an inspiration from fall incidents with elder relatives in my family. My grandmother, Maria, 74 years old at the time, was living alone at her own home and in relatively good health. As she was getting ready to go to bed she lost her balance and ended up on floor. Unable to get up again or reach her pendant alarm she had just placed on her bedside, she spent the night on the floor. She was lucky enough not to get injured and to have my mom pay her a scheduled visit the next morning, otherwise she could have laid there for days. Due to the prolonged period on the floor she developed pressure sores and pneumonia, entering a downward spiral with her health after that. That incident made me think that there must be a better way for seniors to be able to get help than pendant alarms which rely on senior users to wear them 24/7.
My grandmother is not the exception. Falls are the most frequent and lethal type of accident in seniors aged 65+ affecting 1 in 3 seniors in the UK every year. I have been inspired to develop technology with senior users, their carers and families participating in every stage from research to deployment to create products users love and accept in their lives. To this effect, Tendertec’s technology does not require any user engagement or lifestyle change from the side of users; you don’t need to wear anything or change your routine. You just fit Tendertec’s sensor and forget about it, knowing that it’s always on for you to rely upon.
As a female founder, from your personal experience what would you say have been the biggest barriers for you?
Being a female co-founder of a pre-seed tech startup involving hardware and trying to raise a significant amount for its pre-seed round has been a long 2 year journey. There are few lessons I can share as a female founder. First, speaking of first impressions, I believe that being involved with hardware has been a bigger repeller than being a female in her early 30s and pitching her first tech venture. In addition, having a PhD and a male co-founder with previous startup experience tends to even those first impressions out. In situations like these, the remedy for me has been to let my audience know my story, the motivation behind Tendertec and how my experience to date has uniquely qualified me to solve the challenge of safeguarding the independence and quality of life of vulnerable people.
Another important lesson I’ve learned over the past year is to focus on investors that can share the pain you are solving. When it comes to caring for family members, women are more likely to take on caring roles than men particularly in their 40s-60s. To this end, pitching to investment funds comprising both female and male partners has been essential. This is one of the main reasons we believe we have been successful with Metevallon VC, a fund with 2 female and 2 male partners.
Why do you think there is a lack of females within STEM careers?
I was blessed to be raised in a family where my gender did not dictate my parents’ beliefs regarding my abilities and potential. Therefore, I never felt that when it came to intellect I should only compete with members of my own sex or that there are jobs that are done traditionally by men or women in the workplace or at home. But I understand that is not the case everywhere. Even if you have been privileged to be born in in a society that gives equal rights and opportunities for men and women, gender stereotypes existing and continue to cause women to question their abilities. In my opinion, the bias starts at home and continues at school before entering the workplace. On the other hand, I believe that companies must change workplace culture to ensure that women are climbing an equal career ladder to their male counterparts. As women, we are gifted with the ability to bring life into this world and that should not become an impediment when building a career whether we choose to have children or not.
What advice would you give to women wanting to build their own start-up?
I would give them the same advice I would give to anyone thinking of building their own startup. Learn to persevere and believe in your ability to learn. It’s not how many times you fail, it’s how many times you get back up and what you learn from each failure.
What is your favourite quote?
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Thank you Afroditi, we are very excited to see what the future holds for TenderTec!
#WomenRock A voice for diversity in tech!
An interview by Steph Jackson