One of our core values at AccelerateHER is to amplify the amazing work of female founders. We recently caught up with Sensmart founder, Aisha Purvis, who is part of our network and the network over at Barclays Eagle Labs. Taken with her sheer enthusiasm and the story behind her business, we wanted to create a profile, to amplify the wonderful work her and the team at Sensmart are doing.
What are Sensmart and Numenyu?
Sensmart is a company that aims to revolutionise Healthtech, specifically to tackle the issues of dehydration and malnutrition within both a hospital and care setting. Amongst many barriers to eating and drinking appropriate foods is communication, with the current hospital standard being a paper menu which can be read to patients by a healthcare professional if they can’t themselves read. Its latest product, Numenyu, is an interactive menu which communicates food and drink options to patients in a multitude of multisensory ways that don’t rely on patients having the ability to read or hear.
Using a mixture of communication methods, including audible, tactile, visual, and olfactory triggers, Numenyu enables the greatest portion of society to decide upon their meal choices within a hospital or care setting – making a task that is difficult to so many, accessible to almost everyone.
Malnutrition and dehydration are a serious and ongoing concern for health boards across the UK – estimated costs to the NHS total £500 million each year. Patients who are malnourished within a care setting are estimated to stay in hospital twice as long as an appropriately nourished patient. Numenyu is one part of the solution to this problem.
There’s also a sustainability element to the product. With Net Zero and waste targets ramping up in line to meet government goals over the coming years, health boards are under more pressure than ever to reduce waste.
Not only are the menus reusable and long-lasting, they are also fully recyclable for when the food on offer changes. With more patients having full understanding and control over what they eat – food waste is also reduced.
The founder’s background
Founder, Aisha Purvis, is a former Care Home Manager turned trainee nurse who has over 10 years’ experience in care and hospital settings. She also cares for her 9-year-old stepdaughter, Millie, who has Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological and developmental disorder which affects the development of the brain, cognition, and motor skills. Millie is non-verbal and Aisha has faced her own issues with Millie’s eating, with communication being a barrier to meeting Millie’s nutritional needs.
Aisha will tell you that this is the biggest piece of inspiration for Numenyu – it just so happens that the product also tackles a major problem faced by health and care providers across the country.
What are Sensmart’s next steps?
Sensmart is currently pre-revenue but set to take part in a number of key trials with national bodies, beginning in the coming months.
Discussions are also underway to arrange a National Health Study with support from AHSN. This study will examine how multisensory aids can transform nutrition and hydration in hospitals, whilst a separate trial will examine the same in a Care Home setting.
Aisha’s parting advice for other female founders?
“The biggest piece of advice I can give others in my position, is don’t ever feel too intimidated or small to speak to people, no matter how senior or successful they are.
I googled who could help me, came across Barclays and just reached out to them to find out what support was available. The nationwide team at Barclays Eagle Labs have been incredibly helpful and led me to AccelerateHER who I now get to access support from too.
If you’re confident in your product and approach, tell anyone who will listen, figure out what you need and ask for it.”