A source of funding was required to develop After Cloud’s innovative app towards a Beta trial and rapidly grow their user base.
Signposting to grant- and marketing-related webinars and meetings with funding specialists laid the groundwork for a successful Go Create grant application.
Like many great ideas, the lightbulb moment for After Cloud happened during a family conversation following the death of a much-loved grandmother. The family realised that although they had photos, they didn’t know the stories behind them and in fact, there was very little in terms of digital content to represent her life.
The After Cloud app, due to launch in July, will help people with life limiting conditions to capture individual moments. They can create letters, record audio, add images and video content that can be shared in a closed group setting. The app also has a function where future posts can be scheduled to be sent to family or friends after you’ve gone.
Darren Evans, founder of After Cloud, explains: “I started talking to people in the industry and realised that there are lots of clinical systems out there, but nothing that was patient centred or for the family. And that’s where it started, we wanted to give people the opportunity to capture moments with multiple content – that was the start of After Cloud.”
“The app allows users to capture individual moments as multiple content. For example, they can write or dictate letters, which is great for journaling or diaries. They can upload or take in-app images and video and they can record audio in-app to capture their rich family history. All of that combined can create a moment and they can also future post within a closed group setting.”
Practitioners are now using the app in dementia services, in areas like art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, reminiscence therapy, so it can be shared in a closed group privately with family members.
Being Oxfordshire based, Darren learned about OxLEP through social networks. Due to the innovative nature of the After Cloud app he was signposted to the Innovation Support for Business (ISfB) Programme and applied for a Go Create grant, which was accepted.
Alongside the grant funding they received one-to-one support from one of OxLEP’s experienced business advisors and attended several business webinars. “The OxLEP Business team have been really supportive, all the way throughout the process. The content that they produce in their webinars and meetings; the social value is exceptional.”
“There’s a knock-on effect where you might be invited to a webinar and meet someone that had it not been for OxLEP, I would not have met.”
“The Go Create grant was used in the initial tranche of development, to create the Beta model, with additional smaller grants used to match fund two video testimonials which helped promote the business. The webinars were valuable in terms of giving relevant information for a start-up business. Darren tells us “I’ve got a lot of business experience, but not specifically as an entrepreneur. I’ve built and managed businesses as an MD, but in established businesses.
“The support that OxLEP have provided in the one-to-one sessions, particularly in signposting and introductions to people who can help in research for instance, has been invaluable.”
“The support and collaboration are ongoing. There’s a knock-on effect where you might be invited to a webinar and meet someone that had it not been for OxLEP, I would not have met.”
Having now moved over to the eScalate programme as a purposeful business and received a grant towards the second tranche of development, along with joining a cohort of the Peer Networks programme, Darren says that the one-to-one support he’s continuing to receive is second to none.
“Speaking to people who’ve been there, seen it and done it with their own businesses creates enthusiasm and encouragement, certainly for people like me who’ve never been an entrepreneur before”.
“While the pandemic has been harsh for so many, it’s made people think about their own mortality and what they will leave behind. One positive that’s come out of lockdown is the ability to speak to people all over the world using Zoom, as a result After Cloud’s advisory board is now made up of notable industry experts from Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and here in the UK. It’s wonderful.”
“It’s an exciting time in the development of the app which is due to launch towards the end of July. New features are being added to include a digital timeline enabling users to create specific moments in collaboration with friends and family, not just within the UK but worldwide.”
“It’s also exciting to report that After Cloud has recently been short-listed for the UK Health Radio Award in the Dementia Support category, an amazing achievement for an app still effectively in Beta development.”