How to turn a personal experience into a growing startup?

SeniorApp is an innovative mobile application and web platform created for people who need support in their daily care, especially seniors and their families. While now they are growing at an impressive pace, the beginnings were not easy. How do they describe the startup’s first months of operations? What challenges did they face in the beginning? How did they deal with them? Read in an interview with Przemysław Mroczek and Igor Marczak, founders of SeniorApp.

SeniorApp joined our portfolio in 2022. 


Pracuj Ventures: What motivated you to establish your start-up? 

Igor Marczak, founder of SeniorApp (IM): The rapid ageing of the society is no longer just a predicted phenomenon but a fact that affects all of us – none of us will be forever young. The current data from the General Census indicate that during the last few years the number of the working population, children and youth decreased while the number of senior citizens increased by 2 million. According to the researchers, in 20–30 years, every third Pole will be a senior citizen. This is a large group that has to and will have to be cared for to remain economically active. In the light of this situation, it seemed reasonable to find a tool that would be useful to senior citizens.

Przemysław Mroczek, founder of SeniorApp (PM): However, the Platform was not founded because of the forecasts mentioned above but because of our personal experiences with caring for people who needed help. The relatives of senior citizens are not always at hand, sometimes they live in different towns and cannot be available all the time. Also, full-time caring is quite a burden: it requires a lot more effort than a full-time job. Sometimes, people who act as caregivers also need help – a moment of rest from supporting their relative 24 h a day.

IM: As a boy of almost 20, I found out that my mum was sick, which accelerated her dependency on the assistance of others. At that time, I noticed how difficult it was to find someone who would be willing to take over the duties of a caregiver, even for a few hours, particularly if we were looking for a person we could trust with a close relative.

PM: On the other hand, we saw what my mum was doing. She dedicated many years to educating and caring for people in need. She is very empathetic and willing to help others. As a retired person, she continues to support three persons in her care. To her, it is her mission, not just work. Seeing what she did, we decided to act. 

The impulse that prompted us to do something serious with this idea and transform it into a business was our application for the “I have an idea for a start-up” competition organised by the Łódź City Hall. As it turned out, SeniorApp received plenty of interest and acclaim – we won the main prize. It was at that point that the dream turned into a plan. Our mission was to create a tool that would be able to meet the expectations of people who required support, their relatives and people who were willing to give such assistance.


Pracuj Ventures: How would you describe the first 6 months of SeniorApp? What was it like in the beginning?

IM: When we won the competition of the Łódź City Hall in 2020 and were subsequently invited to take part in the “Forge of Ideas” programme of the Marshal Office of Łódź Province, we were finally able to proceed with our plan. The company had not been formalised initially, but the concept of the platform we wanted to create was already taking on its final form. We were working on the name, logo, MVP (minimum viable product) and appearance of the application.

PM: At that stage, the SeniorApp team was just us: Mroczek & Marczak. We received a lot of support from the Forge of Ideas mentoring programme. We had plans, objectives and the framework of the application. After analysing market research, we saw that our idea made sense and could become a tool that would make life easier for many people. We were looking for someone who could provide us with technical assistance to confirm that the design was feasible from the programming perspective, determine the budget and schedule of work and prepare the MVP for potential investors.

IM: We also acquired the first partner (key employee), Kajetan Zimniak from Poznań, who helped us prepare the MVP in tough times and take the first version to market. However, we still did not have sufficient funds to launch the project.

PM: Approximately 3 months later, after summarising the project in a pitch deck, a financial model and a business model and identifying the sources of revenue, we began the “round of attracting investors”. Thanks to good relations and hard work, we attracted the interest of our first investor, who believed in the SeniorApp project. He came to us in November 2020, allowing us to realise our vision.

IM: From December 2020 until 8 March 2021, we had been working really hard. During that period, there were many duties that had to be completed by our product team, which consisted of 5 people at that time (Kajetan, Igor, Przemek, Adrian and Dawid). We started working on the first version of the web platform and the mobile SeniorApp application. We conducted research, held meetings with senior citizens, ran tests, prepared prototypes, designed mock-ups and had long and fruitful brainstorms and lively discussions…

PM: We picked June 2021 as our target for the launch of a fully available and functional version of the platform. Thanks to the commitment of an increasing number of people who supported us, e.g., with organising design work with a focus group of senior citizens, we completed the process in February 2021. In the same month, our team was expanded with a Customer Service Department (Karolina, Agnieszka, Tomasz) that prepared the FAQ, processes, procedures, built scenarios, etc.

IM: 8 March 2021. We will remember this day for as long as we live. We gave our project to the world – the free, nationwide SeniorApp platform was launched on the market in the form of a mobile application for Android and iOS as well as a website.

PM: During the initial phase of the development of SeniorApp, the most important thing for us was to build a team that would believe in the project and would be willing to commit. We wanted to create a group of people who could trust and support each other so that our idea would be realised together with the launch of the application on the market. And we did it. Today, there are almost 30 thousand application users, including 6 thousand verified caregivers all over Poland, and 2 thousand more people join each month 🙂


Pracuj Ventures: What were the biggest difficulties you encountered? How did you overcome them?

PM: There were a lot of difficulties. The first major unknown, which later turned out to be a milestone, was the acquisition of an investor – Dawid Urban, without whom we would not have been sitting here right now. We had plans and ideas drawn on sheets of paper. We were also worried and disheartened, afraid that what we had on those sheets of paper would fail to ever materialise. It was a very difficult time – without overcoming it, we would not be on the market right now. We are grateful to Dawid for trusting our vision and believing in our idea.

IM: Another of our concerns was the lack of programming skills. I have extensive experience with sales and marketing and Przemek – with marketing and management. Entrusting the project to an external programming team, whose experience and skills we did not know and whose reliability we were unable to verify, could turn out to be a major failure. We were afraid because we did not know if they would not “steal” the idea from us or if we could trust them to transform our plan into a product such as the application. We had witnessed such things on the market. It turned out we had been wrong, however, because we now know that Kajetan is “our man”, and is also one of the founders of the success of SeniorApp.

PM: Our next “make or break” moment occurred when our funding at that time ran out – we were entering the second round of looking for investors. We began in the middle of 2021. We needed a person who would believe in the project and would enable us to continue to grow. After three months of sending pitch decks to Venture Capital funds, private investors, accelerators and business angels, we were slowly losing hope in the continuation of the project. The funding was running out, and the absence of funds for development and promotion would also halt the organic growth. It would mean the end of SeniorApp.  

IM: It was a very hard time for us. We sent out approximately 200 investment offers, and only 12% to 15% of people responded, expressing their interest in further talks. In December 2021, we bet all we had on just 2 potential investors who could believe in us and our team. Now we know that the final investor is the team of Pracuj Ventures – we are grateful that they are with us and help fuel our further growth 🙂

PM: It was certainly difficult – and still is – to build a strong, recognisable brand that would win the trust of the customers in a short period of time. We had to be very creative and agile when developing the image of our company, and we had to look for and utilise suitable channels to reach the target group.

Pracuj Ventures: Thank You for this conversation and… welcome onboard! 

PM, IM: Thank you!