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IGNITING THE SPARK with Cosmin Mihaiu, MIRA Rehab

David Farquharson

Mira is a software platform designed to make physiotherapy fun and convenient for patients recovering from surgery or injury. The system transforms existing physical therapy exercises into video-games, and uses an external sensor to track and assess patient compliance.

Cosmin Mihaiu MIRA Rehab
Cosmin Mihaiu

The moment that ignited the spark in me to start a business was…

MIRA started as a student project between me and my co-partners - Andrei Dascalu, Andrei Cantea and Alina Calin - as an entry to Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition. After the competition - where we got to the top six companies worldwide - we decided to continue with the project… and never looked back! In the beginning I did question whether, and I’m assuming my co-founders did as well back then, we should get hired, or start our own business. Most of the people around us told us to go for it, and so we did. But it wasn’t as though me nor my co-founders woke up one morning and said ‘We want to be entrepreneurs’. No, it was just that we had a cool idea, the passion for building the company, and the perseverance to make sure that we actually succeeded.

The thing that’s most surprised me since I made that move is…

That it’s not as easy as people may think. I’m sure that there are people thinking of starting their own business, and I would most certainly encourage anyone to do it or run with their own idea. Whenever I get asked, I always say ‘Go for it’ but, at the beginning I usually also say ‘Don’t expect it to be easy’.

Even now, what surprises me is that change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not something that happens the next day, the next week, even the next month. I admit that my co-founders and I were more than naïve in thinking how change would happen, and how our business would grow, but experience taught us it wasn’t that easy. Actually, a couple of years ago we were interviewed by a journalist in our home town and he asked us a very good question – ‘Had you known of all the difficulties, would you still have done it?’ And the two of us looked at each other and we really didn’t know what to answer. That was tough. Starting a business certainly wasn’t and still isn’t an easy experience.

The toughest challenge I’ve faced is…

Bringing a new concept to a market. Healthcare is known to be arguably one of the most conservative industries for implementing novel technologies. And it’s for good reason, because products require regulations and testing prior to patient use to make sure they don’t cause harm.

Building and implementing a digital solution, for us at least - the four software geeks that started the company – was our biggest challenge; getting people to understand how our software can help therapists to help patients get better in a different way. At the beginning, I went to plenty of meetings where I wasn’t taken seriously. I was a 22-year-old software specialist walking into the office of a 50-year-old established clinician and was trying to explain why my software application could help them.

My biggest success has been…

Well, so far the biggest success is the work we’ve been doing for the past four years with MIRA. Every time we get a new client or we hear about great stories of patients improving, we count that as a success. Also, the company as a whole has had its achievements – we have won several awards and been nominated for many others. Recently, we won Best Social Enterprise at the Global Startup Awards and received a European Youth Award in the healthcare category.

I was also honoured to give a TED talk about MIRA, which is now online. Those are all massive achievements which we are more than proud of, but what makes us most proud is when we hear of the great impact our solution has had with patients.

I’m very good at…

Avoiding questions… I’m kidding! I’m very good at talking about our product and about our vision and what we want to do with MIRA. I’m also very good at typing emails - I tend to type really fast!

The type of person I look to recruit into my organisation is…

First and foremost, I need people I get along with, because I believe the most important feature in a small company is the culture. I interviewed the first person that I hired by taking them for a cup of coffee, and I took the second one for a beer, because I wanted to see if I would get along with the person rather than just hiring based on skills. Skills are obviously key and I always ask about skills and experience, but I’m more interested in the person at the beginning.

The part of my day I most look forward to is…

Going to sleep? I’m joking! I usually look forward to the afternoon, because that’s when I tend to send emails and reach out to people. It’s my time to speak to our current and potential clients, and plan for the following day.

If I could give my 18-year old self one piece of advice it would be…

Don’t worry and don’t give up, because it’s going to get better.

Outside of work I can be found…

Walking around London, playing video games, watching movies, visiting museums… and probably working outside of work!

My philosophy on life is…

It’s a really good question, and ultimately what I think - at least at this stage of my life - is that we must make sure that we build something that future generations benefit from in a better world. Therefore, the philosophy by which I live my life Is to make sure that what we do has positive impacts for our children, and for our grandchildren, and so on and so forth.

Simultaneously, the main reason why the four of us - my co-partners and I – are still here and doing what we’re doing, is due to the strength that the four of us have in common. I see that as being perseverance. We live each day and we don’t give up, because the easiest way to fail is to just stop building something. We see a difficult situation as a challenge to be overcome. I lean on the support of my friends, family, and girlfriend, but my philosophy remains that even if it is hard, it is not impossible, and rather than backing out and losing, I’m going to keep pushing forward.

If I was asking the questions, I would want to know…

I guess I still haven’t figured out how to balance work and free time. How do you switch off? It might be passion, it might be doubt, or it might be any number of things driving us, but how do we tune out?

What I like about working with Ignition Law…

I like Ignition Law’s quickness and their professionalism. They have the same mentality as the people that I like to work with, in the sense that I don’t necessarily see them as my service provider, but rather as my friend.

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