This article is a part of Newfound Global Expansion podcast series
Health education venture TALi Health — tackling the challenges of child attention deficit — is planning global expansion from its home city of Melbourne. During a recent stop in London, TALi’s Head of International Partnerships Alex Barty sat down with Newfound to discuss the challenges ahead.
Newfound interview with Alex Barty from TALi
"There is a tremendous opportunity to help these children at a global scale."
Newfound (NF): Can you tell us a bit more about the challenge at a global scale and how TALi is working to tackle it?
Alex Barty (AB): TALi is a platform that is transforming the way we identify and strengthen early stage attention deficit support in young children worldwide. 136 million children across the globe have been identified with either ADHD or an autism spectrum disorder. In the UK 14% of children have been identified with learning disabilities. In the US that figure is closer to about 20%, with 6.1 million children there identified with ADHD. We see a global opportunity to help these children.
We have a platform that consists of TALi Detect, an assessment and screening tool to identify attention-related cognitive capabilities in children aged three to eight; and TALi Train, utilising gamification to exercise the unique cognitive skills associated with attention deficit disorders.
NF: With this global opportunity, what are your expansion plans for the year ahead?
AB: Currently based in Melbourne, TALi is looking at the UK and the US to establish a presence and a network of partnerships to deploy the platform across multiple sectors. So, we’re looking to establish relationships with psychiatrists, paediatricians, psychologists and physicians, as well as the educators to be able to deploy TALi across as many different avenues as possible.
In the UK, similar to Australia, we will be focusing primarily on gaining access to a network of healthcare providers, building out a direct-to-consumer business and designing a model to work with UK educators. In the US, we’re establishing a presence predominantly in Texas, with a similar network in Northern California.
"We think about market validation as a holistic activity."
NF: What’s most important to you when you’re looking at a new market?
AB :Obviously people need to want us to be there! So first, we have to identify demand for the product. But we also have to think about this as a holistic activity, so we need to identify an infrastructure that’s going to be supportive.
To us the UK is a very attractive market because it’s quite similar culturally. It’s something we can transpose quite easily from what we’re doing in Australia. London also has the benefit of proximity and being a global capital. We have supporters in institutions here like King’s College, UCL and Imperial College, world leaders in cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychology. It’s important to have ambassadors and champions within the system.
Beyond that in the UK there is an incredible charitable sector — again not unlike Australia — where we can find people able to support us, as well as implement our solutions in communities that need them the most.
NF: You’ve clearly done a lot of research into the UK. Was this while you were in Australia or on the ground here in London?
AB: We employ multiple channels to do our due diligence. We are here now because Newfound has done an exceptional market validation report and given us insight on the market opportunity for digital interventions like ours. That report has been enormously beneficial and will craft the way we enter the UK market.
We also engaged with three different government agencies. Global Victoria, the Victoria state government trade agency, has been extremely supportive and has an office here in London. AusTrade has also been supportive of our endeavours throughout the world, directing connections through their investment and identifying opportunities. The UK government is also showing a lot of interest in digital innovation, particularly in the health and education space. Part of our market visit was due to an invitation from the Department of International Trade, which sponsored us and was our advocate at the recent BETT event. Other help comes from our networks, academia and business.
NF: Has being here in the UK given you new insights to the market that you didn’t know from your research from Australia?
AB: There’s only so much you can do via email and on phone calls. To get a good idea about what the opportunity is, you really need to eyeball people sometimes! You need to shake their hand and ask what exactly the opportunity is. For us to come over here and explore the opportunities is really about ascertaining exactly who’s for real, who’s not for real, what we need to do and not do. We have identified certain models that are working in Australia that won’t work here, as well as go-to-market strategies that will help us figure out how to navigate the market.
NF: What challenges have you anticipated for the UK?
AB: As a digital health business, there is a lot of regulation and compliance that we need to navigate and satisfy. We also need to be conscious of the fact that this is not going to be a battle that we will conquer on day one. Hence, it is important that we can work towards a strategy which will enable us to generate revenue sooner rather than later.
"It's about getting boots on the ground and getting users as soon as possible."
NF: With the intel you have gathered from your UK market visit, what are your next steps?
AB: It is absolutely critical that we have people in market — boots on the ground — working for us. From an executive level to sales and support roles, it’s important that we have local hires as part of setting up a business here. It’s also important to gather data to access early adopters in the market.
NF: Finally, with the work TALi is doing to help young children, what have been your most rewarding working moments?
AB: There are moments where you are at a school when you immediately see the impact the product can have, when you speak to parents who see tangible evidence from using our products, with benefits not just for children but also families.
There is always stress on families and to be able to alleviate that means we are making life easier, not just for the child but for the entire family.
"That's the core of what we're trying to do - making sure parents can go about their business and that kids are living happier lives."