I met Alina Călin from Romania in Vienna at CESA Grand Finale, where the best startups and ecosystem supporters in Central Europe were announced. Her startup, MIRA Rehab, which has offices in Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and London, won the category “Best social impact startup”. That was a good reason to interview her about her entrepreneurial path and MIRA Rehab.
Who is Alina? What makes you wake up in the morning?
I am just a young girl trying to make a difference around me and bring back value to the society that invested so much in my education and formation. Although it was not in my plans ever to become an entrepreneur, I got so attached to the computer science project I started with my 3 University colleagues (Andrei Cantea, Andrei Dascalu and Cosmin Mihaiu) that I decided to accept the challenge and take the risk. That is how I became co-founder and CRO at MIRA Rehab Limited.
What is your company? What problem do you solve?
MIRA Rehab is all about motivating people to get better in an easy, fast and fun way, and we do this by gamifying rehabilitation. Our product is a medical software platform created as a tool for rehabilitation and provides customisable clinically-based “exergames” for a personalized treatment of the patients. We address all those that need physical recovery, orthopaedic and neurologic, children and elderly.
It is a new and useful tool for the therapists that can prescribe these “exergames” for the recovery of their patients and also monitor their adherence and performance remotely, enabling them to handle patients more efficiently and save healthcare costs. But mostly is it good news for patients that go through really difficult times, but now are now more motivated to do their exercises which are new fun, engaging and feedback providing, and forget about their pain or disability. We want them to literally play their way to recovery.
Who were your best mentors, people who inspired you?
I had many wonderful people around me that still have an imprint on what I am and it feels difficult not to mention them all: school and university teachers, friends… One of them is our first MIRA Team mentor, Dan Suciu, Lecturer at Babes-Bolyai University, I believe his encouragement and support are one of the foundation pillars on which MIRA grew.
But if I were to choose from the public figures, I think J K Rowling has inspired me most lately and I admire her work and talent as a writer but mostly her social, cultural and philanthropy involvement, making a difference in so many people’s lives. I would really like to be able to make my work talk, just as she does for example when she sustains her political opinions by simply quoting the famous Dumbledore.
What would you recommend to young people starting a business?
So three is magical and easy to remember:
1. Persevere. As long as you offer value, the society will pay back, you just need to find the way, one step at a time, befriending uncertainty.
2. Always play to your own particular strengths. Don’t copy others; use your qualities where they are needed, that’ll make you happy as well as to obtain the most plentiful outcome.
3. Work in teams if you want to get far – it can get really annoying or slow you down at times, but it’s the only way to get really far: when more people put together their differences for a common purpose.
Women sometimes have it difficult in business. What can men do to help them?
Give them an equal chance to men. For me, this resumes to 2 practical things: 1. Don’t ask me to choose between career and family – I’d rather we share the effort in a more balanced manner, and find ways to have them both. 2. Believe in equality, and stop playing the domination game. Men are not superior and women are not superior, but we all have great talents and different abilities. I think business is for all who are passionate and want to take the risk.