Momo Medical Joins Y Combinator after First Application

Dutch startup Momo Medical was recently accepted into the Y Combinator programme, where founder Menno Gravemaker is learning from Silicon Valley’s leaders how to scale the company and reach the next milestones.

Any tech entrepreneur knows that the Y Combinator Youtube channel is a rabbit hole of free resources and information for launching a startup. Founders consume hours of content, learning foundational strategies and techniques from industry leaders including Paul Graham, Mark Zuckerberg, and Garry Tan.

After watching copious amounts of the content himself, Menno Gravemaker knew he wanted his company Momo Medical to apply. “I would recommend the Youtube channel to any entrepreneur starting or already experienced,” he says.

But Menno didn’t actually fall down the proverbial rabbit hole until after visiting his cousin in Silicon Valley (where the Y Combinator programme takes place). The entrepreneurial energy and environment were unlike anything that existed in the Netherlands, and Menno knew he wanted to be part of it.

Completing the accelerator programme is a huge mark of achievement for many founders. Household names like Dropbox and Airbnb are just two of their many graduates that have gone on to be successful.

Menno watched hours of Y Combinator videos, gleaning the knowledge and inspiration from both founders and investors. He learned what they looked for, what excited them, and what previous participants recommended to upcoming founders. Meanwhile, he continued to grow his own company Momo Medical, and eventually decided he was ready to apply.

Thousands of people apply every cycle (50,000 most recently), and only a handful (between 100 to 200) may be accepted. Founders may even apply numerous times for a chance to access the prestigious programme.

Menno applied once.

But after learning more about Momo Medical, it’s easy to understand what Y Combinator sees in the company.


About Momo Medical

Momo Medical has designed a motion sensor for beds in nursing homes so that the night shift staff can accurately determine whether the movement is critical or normal.

Normally, staff enter residents’ rooms to check on them up to three times per night. But they won’t just peak through the doorway. They need to enter the room, turn on the light, and verify that the resident is alive…and now also awake.

The old sensors that Momo Medical intends to replace can only detect movement. When they alert the staff, they don’t know whether the resident has fallen or if they’ve gotten out of bed to use the toilet. And that means the alarm is always urgent.

The night shift is not just stressful for the staff, but it also leads to restless nights for residents.

Momo Medical’s sensors can provide a more accurate estimate of the motion’s urgency. As a result, night staff can glance at a single screen and know exactly how the residents are resting. Plus, they have fewer false alarms, which means they can spend more time on tasks that require their attention.

And while their technology has greatly improved the night shift’s work, the sensors have also improved the well-being of the residents. Because they can now sleep through the night, they have more energy during the day and feel less agitated (a familiar feeling for many of us).


What Makes Momo Medical Stand Out

There are a number of people Menno and his team could’ve consulted or targeted with their technology: managing directors who want to run the nursing home more efficiently, the residents of the nursing home, or even the doctors who monitor the residents’ health.

But Momo Medical is designed to serve the night shift.

One of the biggest mistakes founders make is designing a solution to a problem they think exists, but haven’t really experienced themselves. Menno built Momo Medical based on what he experienced while shadowing the nurses on their night shifts.

“If you build technology for someone else and, in principle, will not use it yourself because it is not your job, then it is very easy to make incorrect assumptions,” Menno says.

While the technology may provide a safer environment for the residents, the night shift staff are the ones who use it the most. And so the technology is designed with them in mind.


The First Weeks at Y Combinator: Culture Shock

When Menno submitted an application form on the Y Combinator website, along with a 1-minute pitch video, he also had to grant them access to an online demo of the software. After that, they had a 10-minute interview, during which they asked him more about the business and his own ambitions with the company.

Soon after that, they approved his application and invited him to join the Summer 2021 cohort.

Since starting the 3-month programme earlier this summer, Menno has hit the ground running. Soon after arriving, he spoke with a number of nursing homes throughout the country for potential collaborations. And it didn’t take much to convince them: some demo contracts were completed within just one week.

That kind of quick decision-making doesn’t often happen in the Netherlands. The fact that a US-based nursing home wanted to jump on the idea was an incredibly validating achievement.

But that also leads to new challenges. For example, the beds in America are much bigger than those in the Netherlands. And when designing sensors that detect the urgency of movement, size really does matter.

Additionally, his team now has to produce training materials in English. From instruction manuals to training videos, everything is currently in Dutch.

But this opportunity to learn from the most influential minds in Silicon Valley while establishing business in the US is truly a golden experience for budding entrepreneurs.

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