Tom Giesberg and Dave Angelow are FounderDating members who joined forces to develop VoxGift Winston, a mobile application that empowers patients to communicate their treatment needs accurately and comfortably by touch. They are based in Austin, TX.
WHEN DID YOU GET INTO STARTUPS?
Tom: I have a technical background, mostly focused on enterprise software. After having the experience of a family member having difficulty communicating through a respirator, I had the idea to create an app that could help people with similar speech restrictions communicate with others. That led me into creating the VoxGift app.
Dave: I come from the business side of things, primarily helping companies with operations improvement, supply chain management, and strategic planning. I’ve worked with large corporations like Dell, as well as start-ups and SMBs. And I’ve been teaching Texas State McCoy School of Business for the last several years.
DESCRIBE YOUR “DATING” PROCESS AND HOW YOU DECIDED TO TAKE THE PLUNGE TOGETHER:
Tom: Through FounderDating, Dave and I were able to find and research each other ahead of time. We met for coffee first and discussed working together and we found we were compatible, prior to the FounderDating networking event we attended. I already knew I liked Dave. He had the business development and marketing skills that I needed to help me start getting the VoxGift app out there to potential users.
WHAT WAS HELPFUL FOR YOU ABOUT FOUNDERDATING?
Tom: FounderDating gave me the ability to seek out a person that had the complimentary skills I was looking for in a co-founder.
Dave: Although Tom and I are both in the same city, the FounderDating network breaks down geographic barriers and makes it easy to connect virtually with other locales and potential partners in other locations.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ENTREPRENEURS REGARDING COFOUNDERS?
Tom: Be crystal clear about roles and expectations. The unspoken as a rule, is not a good thing. One of the lessons we learned was to be clear upfront about what amount of time we had to invest in the project. Initially, I had the impression Dave had more availability to lend to the project and that’s caused some business challenges as he’s had other consulting that’s taken precedence, which has definitely slowed down the development process.
Dave: In retrospect, I would advise putting it all down on paper. Just like in dating or a marriage, you need to define the relationship. It can be a Google Doc that everyone has access to it, but make sure it is clear to each person what they will do, what time they can devote, and how long they can stay with it, financially speaking. Be rigorous about how you will define success. It’s also crucial to check in on a regular basis. If you’re working together around the clock, this might be less of an issue, but it’s important to have regular check-ins when you’re not working together.
Tom: VoxGift Winston is a mobile app that helps people with restricted abilities communicate with others. Originally I envisioned it as a way for patients to convey their needs to healthcare providers, but it’s evolving into more of a communications platform which we’re seeing could be applied in many different settings. For example, with a touch of a button, an elderly parent could easily send a message to family members at a distance, home healthcare provider, etc. when medication has been taken or to let them know how things are going. Other uses include using push notifications to monitor how patients are managing their chronic diseases, like diabetes, and reminding patients of pending appointments and to make follow-up appointments.
DO YOU HAVE SIGNS IT’S WORKING?
Tom: We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from users and potential clients. A lot of our work has been meeting with hospitals and healthcare providers to get their input and give us a better sense of the healthcare landscape.
Dave: The hospitals we’ve talked to are usually interested, yet many are still hesitant to use an outside device. I think this is starting to change and trends are showing that more and more companies are letting use their own devices on corporate sites. A big part of our research has been to determine what will entice users to take the leap and buy-in to the product.