Activate Capital | Hello Tomo


Working with Activate Capital Startup Lab:
Tomo from concept to prototype

What’s it like to work with Activate Capital? We get a lot done in short order because we focus on one company at a time. Here’s the story of how we and Tomo collaborated to get them investment ready in 6 weeks.

Why Tomo?

Activate Capital specialises in helping smart, small businesses that want to solve big problems. We look for startups who need a prototype or platform. Our rigorous, holistic, collaborative process takes us all as a group from business proposition through planning every aspect of the business before we build.

Even in the application process, it was clear that Tomo was an exceptional company, as much because of its founders as its business idea. Founded by Fahad Al Saud and Gus Booth-Clibborn, Tomo is an app designed for people who suffer from depression that increases the time between lows, and to make low periods more manageable. As Gus and Fahad say, Tomo gives you easy to do steps to get your life back when you suffer from depression.

In this page you can find some of the highlights of our work together.


Week one

The first thing we did was take the pitch out for a spin. Communication is necessary as an output – you have to tell people what you do — but it’s equally useful as an assessment tool. In this case, Tomo’s founders had to pitch at a competition, so we worked for half a day on reorganising the content and transforming the way they performed it. They were so successful that investors they were targeting came up to talk to them, even though they had seen them before.

Starting with what we learned from the pitch work, for the rest of the week week we explored Tomo’s vision and purpose. It’s a process of deep digging that requires throwing away assumptions that are sometimes dearly held from the company’s inception. We arrived at realistic decisions of market segmentation and defined key business goals of the company.

In the video on the left you can hear Gus and Fahad’s feedback at the end of day one.

Week two

Week two was dedicated to impact mapping, the first step of the actual product design work. Again, the biggest challenge is abandoning long-held assumptions and scoping the need and market at a very high level. Then we got down into the detail to prepare for the product design.

Week three

After a lot of planning, we went back to basics to ensure the plan fit the goals and vice versa. We began with communication practice for people other than investors – clients, partners and other stakeholders. Rather than a traditional pitch format, we worked on answering difficult questions as well as questions that seem easy. We began with strategy and rationale before applying it in practical ways.

The rest of the week focused on a strategy review and a further exploration on its application to the business goals. Everything practical was supported by theory and vice versa. Again, the entire team’s interdisciplinary thinking pushed us far further forward than we would have got with only one sort of specialist.

Week four

Product design began with the entire team – product specialists and non-specialists alike – sketching out both the look and features of a product that would support the deep planning work we did for the first two weeks. The cross-disciplinary thinking is invaluable to catching any assumptions still left-over from previous thinking. And it informed the final decisions on what makes an app user-centric rather than simply clever.

The process began in a low tech format – pencil on paper – followed by discussion and voting on which pieces worked best – and which worked best together. The tech team then went off to build a mock-up of the prototype.


Week five

In the fifth week, we focused on developing further detail within the business, product and communication strategies.

Everyone in the team helped to keep our individual perspectives aligned and in keeping with the bigger goals.

We also worked on big picture marketing strategy in order to fill it out with tactics in our final week together.