Ochy's first 12 month journey - a roller coaster
Incorporated on 27 July 2021, Ochy was started by Khaldon Evans and Perrine Chapot. Khaldon was a high-level 400m athlete and had intense recurrent knee pain at the peak of his career. After daily physiotherapy sessions and doctor visits for over 12 months, they concluded that he needed surgery. Perrine was working in a biomechanics lab and she requested him to do an analysis to see. After the biomechanical analysis was done in the laboratory with Perrine, she was able to identify the weak points that were causing the knee pain. This is then followed by a series of exercises to strengthen those weak points. Over time, the knee pain diminished and eventually went away.
We, therefore, decided to create a product capable of making this type of biomechanical analysis accessible to everyone, anywhere in the world.
Ochy has a mission to make full-body biomechanic analysis accessible to everyone, anywhere. Even though there are many tools on the market for running form analysis, still the best way to get a proper personalized analysis done is through a lab or specialist office. This issue with labs is that they are very expensive and are not done in your natural training environment. This is why we decided to build a mobile app that uses video and AI to bring lab-quality movement analysis to everyone’s pocket so they can evaluate their technique whenever and wherever they want.
Since neither of us was a developer, engineer, or AI specialist, it was difficult to see how we would get this product off the ground. So, over the next 12 months, we went through 4 phases that leads us to where we are today.
Phase 1: Getting started, MVP and excitement
We incorporated the company with 1Kubator as we felt they could give us the good guidance needed to build a successful company. They also offer space for work and 12.5k€ cash that we can use to build the MVP. With this cash from 1Kubator and some cash from family, we were able to hire some freelancers and release our first MVP in Oct 2021. This was a very basic product with many manual processes. Even with such a limited product, we were about to close our first paying client Pace en Courant.
During this period, we conducted rigorous testing and feedback with our close beta testing group of about 20 people. From this initial market discovery, we were about to land partnerships with Reims and Stade Bordeaux Athletic clubs.
We knew at this point we were on to something special. However, we used most of our funding to build the MVP so how will we proceed? We knew we were too early to go raise funding, so our only option was to try to convince someone to become a co-founder and CTO for equity compensation.
Phase 2: The struggle of finding a CTO and running around
Finding the right co-founder & CTO is hard. For this to work, everything needs to be in alignment. You should be able to get along well, they are in alignment with your vision, has the technical competencies to produce, and are not looking for a salary. We put out an advert for our CTO position on AngelList, F6s, and YCombinator Startup School. There were many people who were interested but with settled for two people based in London. One was an AI specialist, the other was an app developer.
This was a very challenging period with the two new co-founders because we never seem to create a bond and the product wasn’t advancing. This didn’t feel like the type of company we wanted to create but we were desperate to keep these two co-founders because we didn’t have any option for building the tech.
We also tried to test the waters at this time to see if we could land some investors. The feedback was always the same “interesting product, but too early for me”. We were very lost on what we should do. Keep both guys even though it’s not working well, or find another option that we can’t see.
Phase 3: Learning, getting back the house in order
These two guys fit almost everything that we were looking for in a Co-founder except we couldn’t build a great connection. It feels more like there are employees that we are paying in equity, and we didn’t want that. Eventually, we mutually agreed with the guys to part ways as this wasn’t working out.
We went back to what we knew best and what made the company excited at the beginning. We started to discuss again with clients, and beta testers and build more partnerships. With this, we could convince Emergys Regional to give us a €25k subvention. We also got invited to our first public presentation at INSEP. From this presentation, we met several key people in the sports, biomechanics,s and tech space who are keen to work with us.
Things are going well with the business, but we were still stuck on the product. At one of the weekly founder meetings at 1Kubator, Khaldon told the group of his frustration with the product development and jokingly suggest that it would be great to have a technical person like Victor Dequidt on our team. Victor at the time was a founder of a startup in the incubator. The joke turned into a serious discussion and lead to Victor becoming a co-founder and CTO of Ochy in April 2022.
Phase 4: Back on track, excitement
Since May 2022, we have been on rapid acceleration. We were able to release our MVP 2.0 so we finally give our beta testing group something new to test and Victor was able to get the tech back in order.
We were able to convince Dr. Benjamin Naiy to join our team. He finished his Ph.D. from Inria and did his thesis in walking biomechanics. This strengthens our position in building a fully automated biomechanic analysis. However, we have some research to do if we want to fulfill our vision of making personalised biomechanic diagnoses based on a person’s speed, height, weight gender, etc. We got research partnership agreements with Inria Rennes and the University of Suffolk, the UK to take on this research.
With this progress, we received several funding from the Region Bretagne and banks. From the region, we got Rennes St. Malo lab (€12.8k), PHAR (€50k), and Rennes Initiative (€20k). We also got two banks (BNP Paribas and Credite Agricole) to follow us for a total of €40k.
At the same time, we got accepted to be accelerated in Novapuls (by Sodero Gestion). This allowed us to have a place to work and good guidance to help us accelerate the business.
Speaking of business, this continues to progress at lightning speed. We got several letters of intent signed by international groups with a total of 41k runners committed. We are also in advance discussions with Marathon Vert, Chi-Running, and Running Addict. Our beta testing waitlist keeps growing organically each week to 800+ at the present day.
In September 2022, we are about to release our first version of the app in the stores. With this version, you can take a video, the AI analyses the video, and you will have information about your running with metrics and graphs. As a coach, you can create a team and add your athletes to your team. The athletes will also see the video on their devices, and you can make comments.
Over the next 12 months, working with the two labs, we will build a more personalized biomechanic analysis that will take into consideration each person’s height, weight, gender, speed, and running distance. At the same time, using that data to build a more robust AI that could be used in more complex situations and be more accurate. Finally, we will be able to give you the day-by-day exercises that you should be doing to improve your running technique.
Get involved in our beta testing program, it’s free. That way you can voice your opinion on things you would like to see the app do so we can make it useful for you.