From amputee recovery support to food allergen management – meet the 2023 Product Builder Programme cohort

After months of scouring the country for budding entrepreneurs bursting at the seams with creative ideas, we’re excited to have launched our Product Builder Programme, which is powered by Barclays Eagle Labs, funded by the UK government and delivered by Plexal.

To recap on our nationwide innovator hunt, Plexal and Barclays Eagle Labs held a six-week open call for future founders and early-stage businesses to apply.

However, this programme isn’t about innovation for the sake of it. We’re on a mission to solve society’s challenges. Therefore, we sourced product ideas that will make a real positive, sustainable impact on citizens and organisations, whether that’s a development that results in a healthier community or otherwise.

With 100 innovative product ideas accepted onto this Product Builder Programme, there’s a veritable volcano of visionaries that we’ve got the pleasure of working alongside. Over the coming two months, we’ll help these entrepreneurs learn the core fundamentals of how to develop, test, validate as well as evolve a digital product.

For now, allow us to introduce but a handful of those innovative ideas that we’ll get to immerse ourselves into, with fields extending from amputee recovery support and food allergen management to artificial intelligence (AI), art valuation and beyond.

Lydia Carrick, founder of Apputee

I’m the founder of Apputee. In 2016, my dad was in a horrific motorbike accident and lost his leg below the knee. It was a really difficult time, not helped by the lack of resources available out there for amputees and their families. Support we did find was through sheer luck, but recovery from such circumstances shouldn’t have anything to do with luck. What we really needed was a step-by-step guide towards amputee recovery.

I’m an Innovate UK Young Innovators award winner, and I’m joining the Product Builder Programme to help launch my minimum viable product (MVP) – a mobile app which signposts amputees to resources, communities, events as well as advice – so that they and their families don’t need to face the unknown completely alone.

I’m excited to be here because building a no-code product is completely new to me and I’m thrilled to be learning alongside a great community of fellow founders.

Aurelia Kassatly, AI developer for social impact professionals

I’m passionate about evidence-based practice and its potential to create more positive impact. I currently work at the nexus of philanthropy and sustainability.

I’m here on the Product Builder Programme to explore and validate how AI might help social impact professionals, organisations as well as innovators to apply evidence-based practice to their work.

I have sector specific expertise and understand the problems that such a product could help to solve. However, I have no tech experience and as such, I’m looking forward to the guidance, connections and insight on deep tech and AI – that this Product Builder Programme might be able to provide.

Sorcha Egan, developer of a sustainable and healthy food sourcing app

I’m a digital marketer by trade, currently working on a tech solution that helps people source affordable, healthy and sustainable food from their doorstep.

I have 15 years’ experience working within martech, data analysis, paid media, SEO, content creation and web builds. Although marketing isn’t my ikigai per se, it does give me many skills –that I love – to work on what gives me value.

Patrick Hallett-Morley, developer of a digital health and wellbeing coaching platform

My aim through the Product Builder Programme is to improve the lives of shift workers by supporting their health and wellbeing. I’m doing this by building a digital coaching platform to provide support in areas like sleep deprivation, exercise and nutrition.

My team and I believe that existing products and services in this space don’t fulfil the needs of people with changing work patterns, leaving a huge proportion of the economy underserved.

Thomas McFerran, founder of U-menu 

U-menu is a two-part service offering help to provide better allergen management in restaurants. A front-end will allow people with allergies to get accurate allergen information when ordering out and the back-end will enable restaurant owners and staff to use blockchain technology, to track food sources back to their origin and give more precise information. This will provide better assurance for food service providers.

Through the Product Builder Programme, I hope to get a robust system developed beyond just interface and make some connections with blockchain developers, to help build out the more complex systems to start funding applications.

Elliot Riley-Walsh, founder of ValArt

ValArt is an art valuation and portfolio management platform, providing users the ability to automatically track the value of, and manage their art portfolio in one easily accessible app/website.

What I hope to get out of the Product Builder Programme is more product validation for my idea along with support in building an MVP, to give our sign-up list a product to use and test. There’s a current gap in the market to simplify the way artwork is valued and how documents are issued and stored, which motivates me to create change.

Bal Matharu, developer of a system inflammation education platform

I’m a chartered physiotherapist with over 25 years of experience working in the NHS. My product is an app with seven days free education, resources and content on how to reduce systemic inflammation with quick, easy and sustainable bio-hacks. After seven days, people can optionally purchase group coaching, delivered through a six-week journey to reset and balance their health status and improve their vitality.

My area is huge and I would like to follow a proven method in refining and testing what I have developed and get the MVP out to market, as well as nail the value proposition and my sales pitch.

Lydia Miller and Amelia Miller, developers of a female-focused digital upskilling platform

Our backgrounds stem from investment banking, venture capital and startups. Together as part of the Product Builder Programme, we’re aiming to launch a female-focused digital upskilling platform that operates at the intersection of HRtech and edtech.

Our solution tackles two pressing issues: barriers faced by women when re-entering the workforce and the struggle employers have when hiring diverse and qualified female talent.

We’re passionate about empowering the millions of women who experience occupational downgrading, salary reductions and stigma when re-entering the workforce, after a career break.

To our entire cohort, thank you for joining and welcome to the Product Builder Programme!

To our wider community, please stay tuned to Plexal’s LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for more developments over the course of the next few months – to see exactly how our budding entrepreneurs progress on their journey.