Imagine being able to overcome your worst fears in minutes? Because that’s exactly what Vribus promises. And without the expense of a pricey therapist too. Founded by Minna Kreivi, Ignacio Cerro, Alberto Molinero and Ana Saiz earlier this year, Vribus is an immersive virtual reality app that utilises cognitive neuroscience to transform users emotionally. Already available is the course to tackle stage fright, but they intend to expand further. So how did Vribus come about in the first place and how did Demium help in getting the idea off the ground? We caught up with Kreivi and Cerro to find out.
1. Can you tell us more about Vribus?
Minna Kreivi: It’s a virtual coaching tool and is the first to combine neuroscience with artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Most virtual coaching tools on the market at the moment mimic traditional therapies and focus on giving a tool to the client to manage his anxiety. Vribus method on the other hand, works with the subconscious level where fast and lasting change is possible. We are only conscious about 5% of our cognitive activity, such as emotions or decisions, whereas subconscious efforts account for 95%. We worked with EURECAT and other scientific research centres on the concept, which ultimately reroute your emotional reaction to a certain stimulus. Each session takes only about 45 minutes and can remove or reduce symptoms the next time you face the situation again.
2. What were you doing before joining the Demium incubator?
MK: I have 15 years’ experience in B2B sales and product management in the engineering industry. I actually studied engineering and, 10 years after graduating, studied digital marketing. I’ve worked in Dubai and moved to Madrid to attend the AllStartup Weekend.
Ignacio Cerro: I have 25 years in big multinationals in different sectors, always with a finance background. During these 25 years I’ve mostly been in Spain, except for two years in Brazil. I was really happy with my professional background and decided it was time to work for myself. I heard from colleagues about Demium and the AllStartup Weekend, so I applied.
3. How has Demium helped you on your journey?
IC: Given that I didn’t have any startup ecosystem knowledge, without Demium I couldn’t have done it. I didn’t have a specific business idea or entrepreneurial experience, but Demium gave me an opportunity and allowed me to find this team, have a project and many other great things.
MK: My case is sort of the same. After many unsuccessful ideas, Demium gave me some confidence.
4. What has the journey to incorporation been like for Vribus?
IC: We met each other for the first time at the AllStartup Weekend in early 2020. We weren’t assigned to a specific project, so after two weeks myself, Minna and Alberto were assigned to something that had been launched a few years ago under a different name. Then lockdown hit, so we started working fully online. We had our idea and we just worked at that: we delivered a financial plan, a detailed business plan, came up with a name and hired a professional designer to do the logo, and prepared our marketing materials. We validated in early June, after which we started the incorporation process, which is a really complex process in Spain – it’s a bit of a nightmare. But now we’re incorporated and we did that in just four months.
4. Name one of the key milestones that you’ve achieved so far…
IC: There are two. Firstly, having both the business and financial plans, and secondly, being validated by Demium as it enabled us to go for incorporation. The big milestone – and this is when the real party starts – is the next phase: financing. We have a great team, a great project, but now we need the cash to make it happen.
5. What has been the most challenging part of your startup journey?
IC: To start working with people you don’t know under such bizarre circumstances. It’s a challenge, but also a great lesson.
MK: We’re all so different and the idea didn’t come from any of us, so we didn’t know about the product or the market. The learning curve was huge because we had to learn about neuroscience, therapy, behavioural habits – a lot of things. And it’s an ongoing process, we’re learning every day.
6. And the most rewarding?
MK: I’ve always had company ideas, but could never find skilled co-founders to start something with. Demium solved that problem in one day. They helped us create a dream team.
IC: I fully agree. Along with the great people you meet, I would say the most rewarding part is the feeling of excitement. Every day you wake up and start working on the project and at the end of the day everything you’ve achieved is as a consequence of all your hard work. Everything is much more personal.
7. What’s the best part of being an incorporated startup?
MK: Knowing it’s going well. Metaphorically it’s like marriage – this is a major step in the relationship. Other people, not only investors, realise that we’re really working on something.
IC: From a legal perspective, if you’re not incorporated, you can’t progress and grow. It’s an important milestone in terms of commitment.
8. What’s the next step for Vribus?
IC: Getting funded. This is our goal now. We’re making a list of potential investors and have recently received very good news about some Venture Capitals. If we want to start delivering what we have, we need funding to develop everything and go to market.
MK: Also we need to get the development started and the best way to do that is by finding funding.