Edited by George Morrison
The Buddy Check Network harnesses the incredible power of speech technology to create a personalized care management system that integrates with any telephone system. Rooted in a belief that enhanced compliance and collaboration improves chronic disease management, The Buddy Check Network is a supportive social network for seniors and their caregivers. In partnership with Microsoft, the BCN has developed the only “Personal Voice Portal” into the Microsoft HealthVault, to allow transparent electronic data record capture and collaboration.
Interview with Bob Matlack, Chief Marketing Officer of Caryl Technologies, LLC – The Buddy Check Network
How do you feel about being considered the most promising "Company of the Day" by Microsoft?
Very excited and grateful about our partnership with the Microsoft teams and the opportunity to share our story and reach more individuals who can share in our success.
How would you describe your company's product and mission?
With a passion for improving healthcare delivery to the senior population, we have developed an innovative suite of phone-based services aimed at connecting seniors to wellness solutions and professionals who are committed to keeping them at home, safe and healthy.
Where did the idea for this company come from? What was the genesis of the idea?
The Buddy Check Network grew out of CEO Jerry Green’s desire to find a solution for a friend who was determined to live on her own, but whose medical conditions warranted someone to check in on her and monitor her blood pressure and sugar levels. Being an IT professional, Jerry turned to technology and put his mind to work on creating a simple solution that would not only meet the needs of the elderly, but also give caregivers peace of mind. What he came up was the “Buddy Check” voice service, an ASR telephone-based calling service that automatically monitors loved ones and connects them with their “Buddies”.
Impact of externals:
How did you fund the company? VC, Angel, Bootstrap? What is the chronology of funding?
Our Healthcare IT arm Premier Technology Solutions has been an initial source of funding along with “good old” Bootstrap dollars
Are you currently seeking funding? If so, what kind and how much?
Yes we are seeking the first round of bridge and angel funding in the $500K area. We are looking to meet with companies and individuals who share in your commitment to compliance, collaboration and chronic disease management.
What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?
I have been a MS partner over the years and have always valued programs like BizSpark. Rest assured we will take every advantage the program offers to help the BCN and our partner networks. A program of this nature reminds me of the passion and excitement we encountered as we exploded the internet and entrepreneurial spirit at the turn of the century.
Product and Market questions:
Describe your offering. What do you sell and how do you sell it?
The Buddy Check Network is a healthcare solution built with the latest in high technology (ASR Technology) and delivered in a low tech format – the home telephone or mobile phone so that everyone can access its benefits. Add the HealthVault to the mix and you have a basic social networking offering a unique personal care management suite of services focused on the Boomer caregivers and the senior loved ones they care about.
What do you sell and how do you sell it?
We offer people the opportunity to build their own personal network “Social safety net”, on a subscription basis. For less than 66 pennies a day, seniors, family, friends, and caregivers can have the peace of mind of knowing that someone is checking on loved ones every day. We also have positioned our services to be offered by major medical providers, employers, and caregiver organizations.
Do you have any Software IP? More specifically, is there something unique you are doing in the marketplace?
The uniqueness of the Buddy Check Network is the seamless continuum of care it offers and the resulting synergy among the providers in the network, We identify a caregiver network of family and friends that can be engaged in the senior care process through a simple call then move health data from the phone through our Voice Portal to Microsofts HealthVault . The end result is a unique blend of old technology, the human connection and the new HealthVault. Another feature of our service is the two models we offer for integration with major providers and payers. Our web service based platform allows companies to rollout the service with a zero footprint in-house or they can go the more traditional route and license our service and we could drop a “white box” into their network.
What would you describe as your "primary" market? Are there any secondary markets you service?
We began focusing our BCN on the senior market and their Family who wanted the peace of mind of having a personal in-home monitoring and wellness network helping them. I feel the most effective use of the BCN is in the Senior Disease Management arena and its providers. A secondary market focus is in the Wellness market as an enhancement to the current wellness delivery process. Our automated call to help keep people healthy and connected to their support groups increases the effectiveness of most wellness programs.
Do you have a growth plan or strategy? Any plans for Internationalization?
Our current growth plan is to continue to develop the social network for our members on the BCN and offer access to local consumer support services like meals, transportation, disease education, local support activities and other available senior services.
How many employees do you currently have? How many software developers/engineers?
At this point because of the scalability of the ASR technologies employed, we are a lean organization, using consultants to supplement our work load as needed.
Are you hiring? If so, what kinds of positions?
We are always looking for creative developers and marketers that share our passion for Healthcare to become part of our consulting network.
What technology platforms are you building on? Why? (No taboos)
We are currently on a VXML and .NET platform with the goal to move to Speech Server in the near future.
Are there any customers or clients you'd like share? References or quotes?
Our first customer was Geri-Perk a Philadelphia-based Medicare Facilitator organization built on the philosophy that ALL seniors are entitled to quality health services. The late Melvin T. Jackson, Geri-Perks co-founder saw the value of the BCN and our ability to touch more seniors using the blend of our high and low technology. His great passion for improving senior care brought us from a consumer-focused approach into the Chronic Disease Management Senior Markets where we have embellished his passions.
Do you have a role model or someone you have looked up to? If someone in particular, whom? What were some of your previous endeavors before starting this company?
Jerry and I have worked since 2000 on several businesses all designed to promote ASR into everyday use in the “social networking” service delivery markets which added a much needed diversion and “creative edge” to our computer technology -careers.
Do you have any advice for young software entrepreneurs?
“Always fall forward” You will fail and fall from time to time, it’s the nature of business. I have always tried to learn from every experience good or bad, so that “when” I fall, I fall forward.
Where do you see opportunities today and in the future regarding the Software/Internet arenas?
I see a continued movement to deliver higher technology solutions and services through everyday devices like home phones, mobile phones and TV -to enhance Healthcare delivery and educate all generations to enhance the quality of life.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I would like to add that I was really moved by a comment made by a coroner in a Lancaster county PA Intelligencer Journal article. He was very distressed that in this day and time he was finding seniors that had passed away alone in their homes, and remained undiscovered for weeks. He stated that “it’s not an unusual occurrence, despite the fact that we live in an affluent society and a wonderful county, which we come up with people dead for an appreciable amount of time. Monitoring devices would have ensured someone would have found these individuals earlier, and their lives may even have been saved, he said”. “Living alone is Ok, but being isolated is deadly”. This has always motivated us to try and make a difference one senior at a time.