WID Podcast Series: Dr Nicola Brough, Measure Well Ltd

In this month’s WID Podcast we’re talking to entrepreneur Dr Nicola Brough about her new business Measure Well Ltd – the challenges she faced and the support she gained from Warwick.

Nicola is a wellbeing expert and developer of the Warwick Holistic Health Questionnaire – helping organisations to implement and evaluate wellbeing interventions/services.

Listen below…

Read the interview here…

Hello my name is Jason Hier from Warwick Innovation District – we help drive innovation and support the development of new businesses. My special guest today is Nicola Brough, she’s setting up a brand new business called Measure Well.

Nicola thank you so much for your time today and thank you for joining. So let’s just talk a little bit about the business and what’s it all about?

Nicola: As part of my PhD I developed a psychometric tool to evaluate well-being – well-being is feeling good and functioning well. The Warwick Holistic Health Questionnaire was initially developed and validated in the field of complementary and alternative medicine, and what we discovered is a lot of the outcomes, which are: mental, physical, social relational and spiritual well-being, are outcomes that interventions across the wellness sector also report are important to to the general population.

So I thought there’s an opportunity here to use this tool to help others who are in the wellness sector, to evaluate the well-being of their customers and the well-being of their patients. So that’s how I guess Measure Well has come into being.

Jason: So, originally it started as an idea on paper, but you’ve had to embrace a digital change haven’t you?

Nicola: Yes, absolutely – So the idea pre-pandemic was that the questionnaire would be available in a paper format, and then, as we moved through the pandemic; and I think we can all agree that the world has changed completely, it became apparent, and that it would make sense, to digitalise the Warwick Holistic Health Questionnaire. So we’ve invested to have a web-based platform developed so that we can host the WHHQ and make it far more accessible to others, to be able to evaluate well-being for their customers.

Jason: So, from a personal point of view, this is a new venture for you, you’ve never run a business before – so what’s it like to set up a start-up business?

Nicola: Yeah, well certainly I’ve had to go through several shifts in my mindset, because academia is very different to being out and running your own business, I guess, but the first thing is the obvious one, is financially you don’t have a salary coming in, off the bat. You’ve got to know everything you do, you’ve got to think about how am I going to you know monetise what I’m doing.

But, you know there’s so much training involved in terms of understanding the finances, understanding marketing, understanding innovation, understanding your customer journey, how to connect with your audience I guess and the people that are going to be using the product that you’ve developed. So, yeah a real steep learning curve for me, coming from a different sector, but it feels exciting and I’m really ready to go and I’m just excited about it.

Jason: Now, you’ve had some business support from the University, just tell us about your experience with that.

Nicola: Yes, so I applied for the Early Career Innovation Fellowship, which was with the Institute of Advanced Studies and that was in conjunction with Warwick Innovations – the purpose of that fellowship for me was to really do some market research and explore the potential of the WHHQ.

It gave me an opportunity to have some support from a business development manager, who is, I guess, a person who’s got industry experience, they were like a mentor for me. As I was reaching out for potential adopters of the questionnaire they were there supporting me and guiding me to think about what we wanted out of that relationship. How we could really explore and better understand how they might use the questionnaire, so that it could inform how we implement it, it could inform the training materials that we were developing, to really understand what our potential customer’s challenges were, so that we could have solutions in place to match those challenges.

So, there were lots of training, different trainings, marketing, really looking at how you price in structure licensing requirements, lots of training and support from Warwick Innovations, that I think without that, I wouldn’t be as far down the line with this processes as I could’ve been.

Jason: Was there any point where you thought, gosh what have I taken on?

Nicola: Yeah, I mean at times it can feel overwhelming and quite isolating, because ultimately this is something that I’ve developed and I’ve since gone on to attract a business partner within Measure Well. But ultimately, when it’s something that you’ve developed and you have to hold the vision, and it’s – how do you bring others on? To share that vision, to have them see the vision too? So, that you’re not carrying this whole process on your own. But, yeah at times it’s, you think have I done the right thing? But ultimately it just makes my heart sing, so why wouldn’t I do it?

Jason: So, just back to the business support that you received, how would you, what were your key takeaways, having that support in those early days?

Nicola: Yeah, I think for me it helped me to build the confidence to make decisions that were, I guess, that made business sense, more so than being emotional decisions and really helping me to think bigger and and broader than perhaps what I might have done initially, and to sort of think about how you’re perceived externally, i.e.: there’s so many potential stakeholders out there, it could be future investors, it could be future customers, future business partners, who knows? It’s really about having the confidence to present myself in a different way in the business that I’m going to be launching.

Jason: So, if there’s someone out there thinking of starting their own business. What advice would you give to a young start-up?

Nicola: Yeah, I think, don’t be afraid to go and start a conversation, just talk to somebody that has got some experience, I guess. In my experience, business people who are successful are happy to share their success and to share their tips and their, how to, or they’re, not to. They’ll share their horror stories with you as well, which is also good. It’s about having lots of conversations with people, not to be afraid to talk to people, to really have someone to soundboard your ideas with. Don’t just speak to one person, speak to several because then you can judge and get some feedback about whether your ideas could have some traction in the future.

Jason: Well, Nicola thank you so much for your time today. You’ll be able to find out more about Measure Well and all the links will be below in this podcast series, so do click on and take a look and Nicola best of luck with the launch.

Nicola: Thank you Jason.

More about Measure Well Ltd here: https://measurewell.co.uk/

If you need business support visit our website and click on Focus Sectors in the menu: https://warwickinnovationdistrict.com/

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