When I was 18 (I think, it was such a frickin' long time ago), I used to sit in office buildings for 12 hours straight, working site security to pay for my university fees (well, beer money). I was fascinated by the idea of offering prescribed physical activity for people with chronic conditions, and for the prevention of disease in at-risk populations.
I had completed a module in my sports studies degree, on this very subject. The NHS had not long released the framework for quality assurance, for the prescription of exercise and exercise referral schemes.
I used to write business plan after business plan, how I would construct a company to offer such services. I would talk to GPs and practise managers. I would do cashflow forecasts and P&Ls. I would research the equipment needs, and create startup cost budgets.
Then I did nothing about it. Until now. 14 years later.
Not only am I now working on a next-generation Social Care platform, which is all about re-enablement and self-management of conditions, but I'm also working on a health and wellness platform for tracking and improving your overall wellbeing, by improving your knowledge and behaviour through the use of smart technologies and connected devices. I am now positioned to build something that does what I wanted, only a decade ago.
But, this is not the same plan - such has been the journey and has lead me back to this point. My education, in particular over the past 4 - 5 years, has armed me with what I was missing back then.
- Technical skills and the ability to execute.
- The mental processes that force me to ship a product
- Confirmation that my passion for this space is unyielding.
- Knowledge of a global market opportunity, enabled through technology, for distribution and scaleable business models.
The original idea was nice. But it wasn't scaleable. It was a lifestyle business idea, like a hairdressers, or an activity centre owner, or a restaurant owner.
I was in San Francisco 2 years ago, when I saw the idea, realised, working and gaining traction. A US startup called Wello had pulled together nascent real time video streaming protocols, such as webRTC, and modern web application development techniques, to offer a marketplace for exercise professionals.
Go to the site, and you can take part in pilates, yoga, circuits, cross-training, strength training... you name it. Delivered by real experts, in real time, at any time, wherever you or they are.
Now, this really appeals to me, both conceptually and technically.
So, this thread of posts is going to follow my exploration into building a very similar service offering, with I think, some key differentiators. We'll tackle the main technical concepts, including:
- Building a web services / API using Ruby on Rails
- Building a native iOS application, specifically for iPad
- Using webRTC and the different options available to make this easier
- Creating an admin area for the business
- Creating the web application front end views