The need to take control of your own health was the driving idea behind River City Labs’ latest tenant, Wanngi.

Wanngi is a health management app allowing users to manage medical and fitness information, including symptoms, immunisations, and medication reminders, in one secure online location, particularly for people who see multiple doctors.

“In early 2017, I realised people are disconnected from their health information,” Wanngi founder Maree Beare told Information Age.

“We decided a mobile application championing the best health treatment for people by empowering them and their doctors to make informed decisions about their wellbeing was desperately needed in the market.”

The service came about with the realisation that over two million Australians had opted out of the My Health Record, partly due to privacy and security concerns.

Maree, who worked in the IT sector as a project manager and digital strategist before moving into health startups and founding Wanngi, said the road to getting the service to market wasn’t easy.

“I was warned by my husband, already in the digital health sector, that my startup endeavour would be difficult and he was correct,” she said.

“Also, unfortunately, female entrepreneurs are also less likely to receive backing and funding, even though they are statistically more likely to run more successful businesses. Having bootstrapped this startup, thus far, has also been a challenge for us as we have had a number of delays due to dependencies on Government approvals, and potential investors have required customer validation first.

“Raising capital in Healthtech, a relatively new sector, is somewhat misunderstood. Investors will compare digital health startups to a sector they are familiar with, such as enterprise software, consumer, or fintech, where it may be easier to assign a certain number of customers to demonstrate product market fit.”

Maree Beare. Photo: Supplied

Maree sees Wanngi, a word used in South East Asia and Northern Australian indigenous languages meaning ‘health and life’, aiming primarily at 35 to 44 year old women around the world.

“Current healthcare is born out of an unchanging legacy system that promotes passivity in people,” Maree says.

“Understanding our customers and providing a solution that helps them feel some control in this legacy system has been challenging but will be wonderfully rewarding as we see the customer cohort over time.”

In joining River City Labs, Maree sees Wanngi as benefitting from the wider tech community.

“RCL has an established community of likeminded startup companies and mentors who are focused on building companies advocating for change. This has allowed me to feel connected, accessing a wider network to collaborate, and the resulting advice and connections invaluable in building and scaling my startup.”

For Wanngi’s future, Maree sees technology empowering patients.

“I believe people need to be educated to the opportunity to easily start collecting their own health records information, so it prompts curiosity about their symptoms, medications and treatment, so they can better communicate to their health care providers to make informed decisions to better engage in and manage their health.”

“My vision is to champion the best health treatment for these people, commencing with an initial serviceable obtainable market of 3.3 million people.”