mobile image



Developments &
updates in HR &
recruitment tech!

Winning the Start-Up Showdown: A chat with HealthKey's David Jørring

Winning the Start-Up Showdown: A chat with HealthKey's David Jørring
At HR Technologies UK's inaugural 2023 event, 13 start-ups went head to head in the Start-Up Showdown, our competition hosted by Bill Boorman. Now, we speak to David, CEO and Founder of the winners, HealthKey, to ask him about his experience of the show – and what's next.

First of all, who is HealthKey?

HealthKey is an integrated health and wellbeing infrastructure. We connect employers, insurers, health plans, and EAPs directly with health & wellbeing providers, providing one-to-many procurement and integration in an easy-to-use platform that gives end-users a unified user experience. 


What made you decide to join us at HR Technologies UK in 2023?

A big part of it was the Start-Up option, being able to join a conference on a smaller commitment. We were so early that we’d just had the first version of the product just out, and we only had two people on the team.

We wanted to go out to the market, meet people face to face, be able to have those conversations, really test our assumptions, but do it in a low touch, low commitment way. It was a way to test the waters in a sense, to see how well that works and learn from it.


How was your experience of the Start-Up Zone on the exhibition floor?

You could tell I think, because it was marketed in that way, that the people who came and talked to us were in that mindset of "This is something new. It might not be the most well-established brands." But people were sort of looking for, "What's the new thing, what's the new technology?" And we saw people who were primed for that.

And then we also met other founders in the same space. It made sense to make some good connections with what other people are building and learn how we fit into that landscape.

It was a friendly environment. Founders in the space are good, it's a good ecosystem, people are very supportive. It was brilliant.


What was it like to compete in the Start-Up Showdown?

So again, being at that stage, we used it as a way to test and perfect the pitch that, essentially, we end up going out and using for fundraising.

And doing it over two days, after the first one I went back, took in the feedback and the questions from the judges and others and tweaked the messaging. "People were asking about this. That wasn't really clear at all, bring that up tomorrow. What should I highlight? What might I be able to skip?"

And it's just great to be able to get on a stage and pitch in person in front of an audience. You do so many of those online, where you sit and pitch what you're doing. It's a different energy when you're doing it live to an audience, and I really like that. It's a lot easier to learn from, I find, than when you're doing that online.


How was the feedback you received from the judges?

The judges were clearly people with a lot of experience in the space. Which is fantastic, right? Getting that perspective. Some were more HR focused and some came more from the technology and Start-Up, Scale-Up side.

It was a good mix of really knowledgeable people. That feedback was fantastic. The main point I really took away was to look at which parts of the pitch really resonated with them. They had some really good points around the commercial model, the business side, asking how we differentiate from others. And when they ask about that and you start explaining it, you realise what your real strengths are. And so getting that feedback, particularly the questions they were asking, was really insightful.

I think that's hard to get in an organic way. You can go out and ask someone, “What do you care about? What would you like to see in the pitch?” and then you get some thought-out answers. But getting it this way is much more honest than if I ask you, "Hey, I'm building this pitch, what do you think? What would you like to see?" because here you can see in people's faces how they react to something and how they engage with it.


What happened following your big win?

Obviously, getting on a big stage and winning is great for exposure! You get a lot of people to talk to and it's a great way to build your network. There are definitely some connections that have been really good to have throughout the last year. It's a launchpad into building a network in the space. So, for me it was a great way to get that exposure and start building.


What's your objective for the 2024 event, now that you have a Silver stand?

Last year we said, "Let's go out and test assumptions, meet the market, get feedback." This year we're back with a much more "traditional" conference aim. Getting in with a full stand, with a bit of a team to bring – I mean, last year we were two people, just me and my co-founder.

So now, the focus is meeting the HR stakeholders and capturing leads, building out our network from a mature standpoint. The difference for us is that, after a hectic and busy year, we've come from the first version of the product – I think we'd only had it live for five or seven days before the event last year – to now this year, the product's developed a lot. Having had people live on the platform for a while, it's a mature product and so we can use the show in a different way.

I’m also really looking forward to being able to share some of what we've learned in the last year or so. I've got a seminar, so I can share that we have taken this different approach to how payers can think about health and can give people more control. I think that opportunity to share that with the world, again as a bit of a launchpad to grow and expand our network further, can build up our presence as a company within the HR technology market in the UK.

It fits with the evolution of the company, from saying, "We're just out the gates, here is a thing that just went live, let's see what the world thinks of it," to now, "Hey, now we have something, we have some insights, we've got a more mature product and now we need to spread the word."


What advice would you give to 2024's Start-Up Zone & Start-Up Showdown participants?

So, generally with the Start-Up Zone, the Showdown, or joining in general, think about what you specifically want to get out of it. Is this a way to capture leads, to sell? Is this a way to engage with stakeholders in the market and exchange insights? Are you like we were last year, taking an idea and saying, "Let's see how the world responds to this thing"?

Be quite bold and a little bit loud. I don't know if it's also a UK thing or if it's my Danish background, being slightly more subtle and not as loud, but it is an opportunity to be louder than you would normally be. And that's great. Use that opportunity to say, "This is actually an opportunity for us to be bold and loud and talk about how we want the world to look differently, and what we think we can do."

On the Showdown... I mean it's all the classics to pitching. Test it on people, not just show it but really do it live in front of someone else. Get their feedback, run it as you would run it.

Keep it short, keep it snappy. I think I actually got mine down to two and a half minutes and four or five points that I wanted to make. It was super simple, "This is what we would like to do, this is how that works and this is why it's different." People might not be experts in the area, so steer away from all the complexity and all the cool things that as founders we often want to talk about. Really, just tell a very simple story.

And have fun with it, right? Your energy really comes across. If you're having fun with it, it's just ten times more engaging.

It's always daunting pitching at an open event where you don't know who's sitting out there, but that's the benefit of it! You don't know who's sitting out there. It could be your next customer, it could be your next investor. Chances are it's both.


And lastly, can you describe HR Technologies UK in 3 words?

That's a good question...

It's big, so feels like a big conference.

Focused. Compared to other conferences, the focus there feels really clear and people know why they're there.

Friendly? I don't know, it might be that we won, but everyone seemed very nice!


Want to learn more about HealthKey?

Find David and the rest of the HealthKey team on the stand they won last year! Look for stand FF65 on the day to find them.

Haven't registered for your ticket yet? That's okay, you can do so here.

If you're a fresh HR tech solution and want to learn how you can participate in the Start-Up Zone and the Start-Up Showdown, get in touch with our team today.

View all Industry News & Updates