The Screening Lab is a new Perth startup tackling the problem of screening people for positions. We talked to the founders to find out how they’re getting on.
//SN: What problem are you solving?
TheScreeningLab has been created to solve the limitations of current screening processes. Screening has been used since the time of the ancient Greek and Romans to select soldiers and nowadays it is conducted to evaluate the attributes of athletes as well as employees in the corporate sector.
The screening procedures more commonly used are physical and medical evaluation however others are acquiring growing importance such as psychological profiling in recruitment or nutrition assessments in corporate wellness programs.
The applications for screening span from athletes and personnel selection, to performance tracking overtime, injury prevention and rehabilitation, talent identification, periodical certifications and wellness programs.
TheScreeningLab offers different modules to cover each potential application.
//SN: How did you arrive at this problem? How did the team form?
TheScreeningLab is the result of the unique combination of complementary experiences that came together by pure chance. Peter Gregory – Managing Director of Ascend Physiotherapy inside the HBF Stadium (Mt Claremont) and scientific research manager for this project – was running an initial physical screening on a WA Institute of Sport (WAIS) athlete.
Massimo (Max) Raballo – formerly a corporate consultant specialising in the use of database for customer segmentation and profiling – noticed that Peter was still using pen and paper to run the screening while a digital tool would have made facilitated the process.
Peter started a comprehensive literature review to give strong scientific foundation to TheScreeningLab while Max was building the first prototype of the system and developing the product’s branding and positioning.
Everything came together when Peter proposed to Vince Sew Hee – Ascend client, athlete, and IT Developer – to join the team and transform the prototype in an innovative cloud base system.
Two and half years later the concept is now a working cloud-based software constantly under development, with beta users and currently under trial in different organisations.
//SN: Who’s your target market? How are you planning on reaching them?
One of the main attractions of TheScreeningLab is that it can be used in a variety of markets, in sport as well as in corporate and Government organisations. This equates to the potential for multiple income streams in the future.
We are currently focused on promoting TheScreeningLab through approachable organisations that already use screening including schools, gyms, sport clubs and physiotherapy clinics and we are undergoing trials in each of these markets.
We are also discussing commercial alliances and technological synergies with digital companies in the health & wellness area interested in our physical assessment module.
On the basis of the first successful case histories we have started spreading our wings toward corporate and Government organisations: we are starting in November an injury prevention trial for high-risk workers for a leading university in Perth and we’ll meet in November a top representative of WA Government to offer to local agencies to trial our system on public employees and members of the public.
In the second half of 2017 we expect to approach bigger organisations such as insurance companies, pre-employment screening providers, corporates interested in health & wellness programs.
//SN: What stage are you currently at? How’s your traction?
Our strategy is currently focused on acquiring awareness in different markets through free trials offered to organisations. We do have a small group of paying beta users that allow us to cover the running costs but the cash flow is not our top priority in this phase.
We are progressively getting traction through our local network creating trials with a variety of organisations such as the Wallaroos (Australian women’s rugby team), Curtin University, PLC and St Hilda’s colleges, VenuesWest and LifeCare Physiotherapy clinics. Additional trials with Anytime Fitness (Gym franchising) and Como Secondary College schedule should start before the end of the year.
We are also developing strategic commercial and scientific collaborations with established organisations such as Curtin University, Rocktape (sport taping), Seqta (market leader in Education Software) and Emageo Group (Athlete management).
//SN: Who’s your competition? How do you think you’ll beat them?
There are a variety of systems used in the different markets but none actually matches TheScreeningLab’s functions and personalised automatic reporting, making our system – at this stage and for the information gathered till now – unique.
Most small organisations, mainly schools and sports clubs, are still pen & paper based or use Excel. In this case the advantages offered by a digital platform are obvious.
A variety of software is used by personal trainers and S&C coaches to design exercise programs. These are not in competition with us because they don’t offer the automatic program generation based on screening results and S&C coaches actually use our screening-based exercises in conjunction with the programs they create using training software.
In theory the only system that we appear to compete against is called Smartabase. This software is used by many top teams and endorsed by the AIS. This is an athlete management & communication platform for coaches but doesn’t offer our screening interface and automatic generation of exercises. In addition we are focused on 2nd tier down teams because of the numbers of subjects needed to ensure profitability.
We currently have a market niche, but expect that competitors will arise sooner or later. Our strategy is maximising the number of users as fast as we can, increasing statistical significance and solidity to our database of results, which will provide protectability against the competitors.
The new release of TheScreeningLab is due by the end of the year, and will bring very desirable functions to make TheScreeningLab even more user friendly.
//SN: What’s been the hardest thing about getting to this point in the business?
Probably the same problem that most of start-up founders face: keeping the drive and motivation up in the painfully slow period – rumours say that 3 years is average – needed an idea to be slowly distilled in a working product and from there in a sustainable business.
During this period there is a lot of door-knocking and without a strong brand or a long client list, the average credibility toward a start-up is low and for each lead usually takes 6 months to get to some practical implementation.
We are challenged by the barriers to entry, even when offering to trial our system for free. Once organisations see and use our product the feedback and conversions have been very positive.
//SN: What do you need from the community? Is there any way we can help?
If your organisation – or any organisation you know including schools, gyms, sport clubs, sports teams, corporate – is interested in a tool to optimise athlete / employee selection, injury prevention and management, wellness program or fitness tracking we would love you to introduce us.
We will offer the possibility of a free trial that will help them to discover an innovative system superior to any similar tool currently available.
//SN: Thanks very much for your time, we look forward to seeing more from The Screening Lab in future!