In her mid-20s, Maricar began experiencing allergies that became a constant challenge in her life. However, her struggles multiplied when she became a mother and both of her children were born with severe eczema and allergies. It was a devastating blow for Mari.
In 2015, Mari made the difficult decision to move from Melbourne, Australia to San Antonio, Texas, in the United States. Unfortunately, her children's conditions worsened, and they eventually developed asthma, requiring frequent trips to the emergency room. Mari and her family tried everything to alleviate the crippling symptoms, but their efforts seemed to be in vain. It took them three long years to finally understand the underlying problem.
Mari diligently underwent yearly allergy tests, and during one of these visits, her doctor revealed a shocking truth: she was allergic to all the local flora in San Antonio. With this newfound knowledge, Mari and her family decided to move back to Melbourne, hoping for an improvement in their health. Miraculously, they found that their conditions began to improve significantly.
During this challenging journey, Mari's ten-year-old daughter had a brilliant idea. She suggested developing an app that could track their lifestyle, medications, and diet factors to help detect allergies. Inspired by her daughter's suggestion and armed with over 15 years of experience as a software developer, Mari decided to turn this idea into a reality. In December 2020, with her husband as her business partner and co-founder, she began laying the foundation for developing the app.
Mari named her creation the InflaMed app. Its purpose was to delve deep into the root causes of inflammation and identify triggers, enabling individuals to create personalised action plans. Even amidst the challenges brought by the pandemic, Mari tirelessly worked on building the app in her spare time. Finally, in October 2021, after just eleven months, she successfully launched the InflaMed app on the App Store.
However, Mari soon realised that creating a product from scratch was only one piece of the puzzle. She lacked the knowledge and expertise to effectively market and build a business around her app.
In August 2021, while exploring options for government funding at a Centrelink services office, Mari stumbled upon a pamphlet about the Self-Employment Assistance program (formerly New Business Assistance with NEIS program). Intrigued by the possibilities, she decided to sign up for the program, then with a different provider. Eventually, in July 2022, Mari was welcomed into Asuria's Self-Employment Assistance program, where she met her Business Mentor, Pauline, at our Asuria Melbourne office. Having already completed the 8-week Micro Business Skillset course, Mari then embarked on a 12-month small business coaching journey with Pauline.
Throughout the small business coaching program, Mari received invaluable guidance from her Business Mentor Pauline and financial support, allowing her to transform her passion from a mere seed of an idea into a flourishing venture. The financial assistance provided by the Self-Employment Assistance program also granted her the freedom to dedicate more time to her business, giving it the best possible start.
Reflecting on her experience, Mari reminisced, "The training and coaching gave me a general knowledge of what I needed to be responsible for. It was great to learn different tips on networking via social media. Creating and expanding the network was a considerable challenge. But it was good to have a coach and Business Mentor to talk things through. My Mentor had one personal contact that matched what we were doing, and it was nice to have the opportunity for promotional support from Asuria."
Recognising Mari's exceptional business plan and the need for further networking, Pauline supported her throughout her time with Asuria. They held bi-monthly meetings to track Mari's progress, and Pauline constantly inspired and motivated her to achieve her goals.
Pauline spoke fondly of the journey, saying, "It has been a truly rewarding journey to be able to lend my support to Mari and watch her dedication and hard work towards her passion culminate into such a thriving entity. She is really resilient, accepting and willing to embrace and implement whatever she has learnt through the Self-Employment Assistance program. This is the right attitude that would take her to greater heights. Seeing Mari’s success keeps me motivated and inspires me to continue doing the kind of work I do."
Following the completion of the program, Mari joined MedTech accelerators such as Google Start-Up and Microsoft Founders programs. Alongside her husband, she incorporated their business and assembled a team comprising three executives and four advisors specialising in clinical matters, artificial intelligence, and brand strategy.
Currently, Mari is actively participating in the Google Start-Up program and seeking investments. She is focused on expanding her app and developing a clinical prototype that allows patients to connect with their doctors for seamless access to their medical records. So far, the InflaMed app has garnered 50 subscriptions and boasts a 5.0 review on the Apple App Store.
Mari shares her vision, saying, "I hope to bridge the gaps of information for a single source of truth which is generally fragmented. We aim to empower chronic sufferers by going after the root cause of their allergies. I’m aware that it’s a roller coaster, huge ups and downs running a start-up, but you have to keep your ‘WHY’ close to you, always to remind you."
Reflecting on her transformative experience, Mari admits, "I haven’t had any experience like this before, building a business, but it was a great learning opportunity for personal and professional development, and it’s rare. You have to be brave to take it."
The InflaMed app, available on Apple's App Store, stands as a chronic inflammation companion that diligently tracks diet, chemical exposure, stress levels, and data from wearables, test results, and much more.
Asuria's decade-long delivery of the Self-Employment Assistance program (formerly New Business Assistance with NEIS program) has helped hundreds of people just like Mari to turn her dedication and determination into a revolutionary business tool that brings hope and relief to those suffering from chronic allergies and inflammation.
If you have a business idea or an existing small business and would like to learn more about how our Business Mentors through the Self-Employment Assistance can help turn your business dreams into a reality, click here to learn more.