Building My StartupAcceleratorsHealthTechStartups 2.0

Our series profiling companies from our Startups 2.0 lists continues with Louise Thompson, founder & CEO of Myfolks Ltd.

Myfolks, which featured on North East & Tees Valley Startups 2.0, is an app that connects elderly people needing support at home with ‘Myfolksers’, who can respond in real-time.

Thompson, who describes the process as ‘like ordering an Uber or Deliveroo’, says the aim is to combat the pressures on adult social care. The subscription-based app is live, has received funding from Capita and is in talks about a strategic partnership with a US company. It is also looking to expand into Canada and New Zealand.

Thompson explains the very personal motivation behind founding the company, the benefits for basing it in the North East and says the aim is to be ubiquitous in the UK before the end of 2024.

North East & Tees Valley Startups 2.0

Describe your personal background prior to starting the business.

I was born in Benwell, Newcastle Upon Tyne, at a time when Benwell was one of 12 ‘projects’ aimed at alleviating extreme poverty in specific areas of certain towns. I went to work at Freeman Hospital in my teens. From there, I was inspired by working with a wide variety of nationalities, by the innovation that was going on and by the consultant I worked for. I was published as an author in medical journals. I did the work – but not many consultants would recognise a girl like me. That led me to consider a degree and I was accepted by Northumbria University. From there, I completed a law degree and Legal Practice Cert.

I then spent 25 years working in legal/commercial deptartments in blue chip, international tech companies – EDS, BT, Accenture, SAP, Sopra Steria and De la Rue. I progressed from leading teams to leading businesses. I completed MSc and a Certificate in Company Direction with the IoD – making me one of few people formally qualified to run a company. I also went on the Windsor Leadership Emerging Leaders Programme in 2012.

I’d moved south early in that journey and didn’t have any idea of the demands that frail elderly parents back in the North East would bring. I wanted to help, but it was hugely challenging. That led me to step out of corporate world to create Myfolks.

I was selected for an ageing accelerator in Newcastle by the Innovation Supernetwork in 2019 but paused for the pandemic, finally launching in early 2023.

Why brave tech startup founders need honest feedback

What is the biggest challenge you have faced to date? How did you overcome this, or plan to overcome this?

The biggest challenge was finding the money to develop the app. I was eventually supported by Capita – without equity – but I have cashed in two pensions to cover the rest: I am old enough to do that, but it is taking a huge risk. I don’t have time to earn that money back if Myfolks fails.

The app is now built, working and won’t need any changes unless we choose to develop it further – apart from support costs of course.

If you were making a birthday wish for your business, what would you ask for and why?

My wish would be for people everywhere in the UK to know about our helpful and trustworthy service so they don’t have to struggle like we did.

What benefits does being based in the North East have for your company? How would you describe the tech scene there? What could it do better?

Whilst I live in the south still, I chose to base the business in the North East and to engage there – it has the National Innovation Centre for Ageing which is a huge plus for me.

It is also easier for me to find the right contacts, and they’re helpful – the app was built by local company Wubbleyou; my insurance company and accountants are local and therefore less costly (and I think more collaborative!) than those in the south.

I am also passionate about creating value for the North East, as are many others I collaborate with. My logo is a heart, but it very clearly and purposefully contains the Tyne Bridge.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Late last year Myfolks won the people’s award at the National Innovation Centre’s innovation awards.