Sydney-based Yen Lim has developed Pic-See, an incentive-driven visual communication system for children with early learning needs. She was inspired to embark on this journey by her experience working with a 3 year old boy with autism while she was completing her Honours Degree in Psychology at The University of Sydney.
As a passionate psychologist she believes that research and technology can, and should, be integrated into widely accessible solutions that improve quality of life. Through this filter she observed how special needs teachers were taking many hours to source and create libraries of visuals to use in day-to-day therapy. It struck her that there must be thousands of parents, carers, teachers and therapists around the world laminating paper-based visuals and she thought, “Surely, there has to be an easier way!”
This is so often the catalytic event that launches entrepreneurs into action!
The original concept behind Pic-See was to make it easier to construct and implement visuals, so valuable time and energy would not be wasted. Yen felt that time should rather be invested in what matters most to dedicated parents, teachers and therapists, namely engaging and connecting with those they care for.
In developing Pic-See Yen wanted to utilise touch-screen technology to reduce the long-term labour-intensive, environmental and monetary costs associated with producing visual communications systems.
Pic-See not only replaces outdated paper-based systems, but also captures the imagination of users to make visually-based learning fun. The app is packed with images and animations designed by graphic artists, purposely created sound effects to enthral users, an drag-drop interface to build visual sequences, the ability to customise visuals with imported images, the ability record audio to promote verbal communication skills, an emotions centre, a choice board, and a data centre to capture the achievements of users and areas in need of further development.
Yen’s key lessons learned in embarking on this adventure are:
- It’s a full time job. Surround yourself with people who can help.
What she thought would be a straightforward app to develop, soon turned out to be a highly complicated technical project. Being new to the world of entrepreneurship she had a steep learning curve. She says, “Be prepared to dedicate yourself as it’s a full time job. Surround yourself with people who can make the journey easier. If I could go back in time, I would definitely seek out a mentor who can guide me through the app space and the broader ecosystem, not just to survive but to thrive.”
- Once the app is developed it’s just the beginning
The market moves quickly. App-spaces are dynamic environments. You have less than 18 months to take your product to launch, listen and respond to the ecosystem, keep your ideas fresh and turn your brand into a household name. This is a process that requires time, perseverance, a lot of hard work and a willingness to venture into the unknown.
A strategic marketing plan is essential. It’s one thing to have a great product, but if no-one is benefiting from it your app can get swept away by a flooded market.
- You need a strong business model
Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” Having a great idea for an app is definitely the first step, but deciding to take the plunge, backing yourself and growing a startup, is arguably the most difficult. A strong financial and business plan is needed for your idea to realise its true potential.
Passion has driven the development of this app. Yen invested her personal funds into Pic-See. She strongly suggests seeking government grants (if available) and skilling up on how to approach investors.