More than half of Americans—adults and children–are on chronic medications. Failure to take that medication can result in disastrous personal and financial consequences. With organ transplants, lack of adherence can mean graft loss and even death. In diabetes, it can translate into increased complication and organ failure. In HIV+ individuals, failure to adhere to prescribed medical regimens can mean increased conversion rates to AIDS.
There are significant financial losses as well: non-adherence costs the pharmaceutical industry alone an estimated $100 to 300 billion each year—and that’s on top of other financial losses due to increased complications and hospital readmissions.
Play-it Health, one of the first six companies to be eligible for funding the Digital Sandbox KC, has found a way to make taking medications and following medical regimes easier, and even fun, with the most comprehensive, innovative, and responsive adherence system to date. By working with the Sandbox’s resources and corporate partners, Play-it Health hopes to transform an innovative idea into a solid business.
An Easier Pill to Swallow
Dr. Kimberly Gandy, founder and CEO, had been confronted firsthand with the devastating consequences of nonadherence. She had watched patients, young and old, die due to an inability to adhere to complex medical regimens. As a clinician, she began to devise systems to solve this problem—and save lives.
Since some of the most problematic patients are adolescents, her solutions began using information technology, and more specifically, mobile information technology. With diverse software products, including apps, eBooks, games and web worlds, Dr. Gandy and Play-it Health have developed a system to engage patients more effectively.
For example, smartphone applications give tailored medication reminders, facilitate contact with caregivers and include motivational games, rewards and education. Another example, Play-it Health’s customizable eBooks provide an engaging approach to typically dry medical content by incorporating animated illustrations and pop quizzes.
Play-it Health has also identified a critical and missing link in other approaches to adherence. The medical system currently lacks the resources and capacity to monitor, analyze and continuously update the information necessary to provide optimal support to improve adherence to medical regimens. Play-it Health is developing a system to provide these services. Though the mainstay of the system is an automated component, these services will be backed by significant clinical expertise.
With all of this serious work as a backdrop, Dr. Gandy’s daughter, Erica, wanted to make sure that Dr. Gandy did not forget to incorporate fun into her thinking. Erica was sure that fun would translate into participation. She began to draw and describe schematics of how she wanted games and medication administration to interface, a process that led to some of the first proposed products of Play-it Health.
Where Innovators Comes to Play
“Play-it Health is a great example of the Digital Sandbox KC partnering with an incredible entrepreneur to help solve a very serious real world problem,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “Dr. Gandy has used her vast expertise in the adolescent transplant field to find a better way to encourage younger patients to fully follow their post transplant medical adherence.”
“Within the Sandbox, we are hoping to gain the guidance necessary to take our company from a good idea with a solid foundation to a company with a means and end to moving forward with a sound, revenue generating model,” says Dr. Gandy. “The seed funding will allow us to move further to achieving these goals.”
BigBang is a backend as a service (BaaS) platform for developing real-time applications for mobile devices, desktops and the web. BigBang reduces complexity by providing developers with a streamlined API that allows them to build scalable applications without maintaining servers or infrastructure.
Jonathan Wagner founded BigBang on the premise that application developers want to develop real-time features that function identically on any device or platform. There are many good tools and frameworks for creating the client portion of a real-time connected application across devices, but few for developing the infrastructure.
BigBang provides client APIs that developers can use to add real-time networking and structured data storage to their applications quickly and simply. They work across platforms and operating systems, and are custom tailored for popular client frameworks and technologies. In many cases, applications can be developed entirely using the client APIs. Developers can scale their applications to thousands or millions of users with no code changes.
Wagner sees a significant market for the service. The current mobile application development services market is valued at roughly $20.5 million. The BaaS market as a whole is less than five years old and is expected to grow from $200 million to more than $7 billion in the next four years.
The founder brings real world application development to the company. Wagner was the application developer for Flex Rental Solutions (formerly Shoptick, acquired), now the leading provider of cloud based rental and event management software. At Electrotank (acquired by Hi5 Games), he developed crossplatform networking middleware for games, simulations and virtual worlds. Technology licensees include Disney, Ubisoft, Mattel, Viacom, Spinmaster and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Proof of concept funding from Digital Sandbox KC will help expand the number of programming languages supported by the API and provide technical documentation.
Dewsly™, is a safe and secure online community that brings together schools, teachers, parents and students — all in one place — to stay up-to-date on important school, classroom and activity updates. Dewsly can provide schools streamlined communication of important activities, news, and information using online tools that engage the community through articles, photo galleries, videos, and live streaming coverage of the education experiences that can be monitored and controlled by school administrators.
The company was founded in the summer of 2012 by Anthony Noll, Jake Lisby and Tom Clark. The three combine a passion for education and community engagement with technical expertise and business strategy. The trio saw an opportunity in the current state of educational content. Today much of a school’s media content is captured in expensive analog formats within vertical silos which limit integration into more highly efficient digital platforms. Online searching for school information is difficult and results are oftentimes outdated and unusable. Additionally, the cost of maintaining traditional platforms (newspapers, yearbooks, and websites) while converting to new and ever evolving platforms is cost prohibitive to many school districts.
Dewsly™ provides an integrated, internet mobile based service solution that delivers exceptional value by improving media and communications systems to students, families, faculty, and the local community as a whole by providing schools with educational and digital media sharing services on a safe and secure platform.
Digital Sandbox KC will help Dewsly with the development of a smartphone app.
Zorilla Research is changing the way commercial pharmaceuticals are developed by using computational technology that predicts problem interactions of a drug in the early stages of development. This enables the developing company to repurpose failed compounds earlier in the process and prevent costly late-stage drug trial failures.
At present, the failure rate of new chemical entities (NCEs) in the pharmaceutical space is around 87%. That is to say, almost 90% of chemical compounds identified as potential drugs fail at some point on the path to approval.
The current trend in the pharmaceutical industry toward shifting risk to smaller “discovery” companies is a smart choice, because these companies are focused. However, market conditions have resulted in an inability for these companies to negotiate successful deals, often even with compounds that are successful in early tests.
Zorilla Research intends to serve these small to mid-size discovery companies: increasing their success rates and facilitating more efficient use of their resources. With Zorilla’s SABLE structural analysis technology, clients can predict problem interactions in early stages of development, and potentially recover compounds that have moved into later phases.
In its entirety, the market for computational tools in drug discovery is estimated to be about $500 million a year in the United States, growing at about $200 million a year annually. Current estimates for the cost of taking a drug to market range from $500 million to $1 billion per drug, with a timeline of almost 15 years.
Dr. Gerald Wyckoff, CEO, is the driving force behind the creation of SABLE, which is protected by a provisional patent. Dr. Wyckoff is joined by Ada Solidar, who has experience in communication with academics as well as clinical and industry personnel.
With project funding from Digital Sandbox KC, Zorilla Research will move its SABLE software to a high-powered, cloud environment and develop a user-friendly interface for interaction with clients.
Your Adoption Finance Coach
One-in-three people have some connection to adoption. According to the Dave Thomas Foundation, one-thirds of Americans have considered adoption, yet only 2% have actually completed one. International and domestic adoptions range from $35,000 – $65,000. Adoption agencies and service providers do not possess the core competency to provide financial services in addition to the adoption services they already provide to their clients.
Your Adoption Finance Coach provides adoption agencies and professionals with resources to address the high cost of adoption. The Adoption Finance Coaching System is a web-based, licensed training system that provides online tools and financial solutions for adoptive families.
Your Adoption Finance Coach offers three components:
- The Adoption Finance Coaching System is a web-based, licensed training system providing adoption agencies, adoption services providers and adoption-friendly corporations with resources and financial solutions and tools to adoptive families. Fully integrated into the client’s existing website, the on-demand webinars, templates and personalized coaching bring all of the critical steps of adoption in house. This is a turn-key solution to the agency so they can be more competitive in the market, more efficiently serve their customers and complete more adoptions.
- GotchaGiftRegistry.com, an online cash gift registry, serves as a tool to help adoptive parents raise the money they need to offset the costs of their adoption and is included in the resources and coaching system.
- Your Adoption Coach Radio is a weekly, national radio show all about adoption. Reaching more than 325K listeners in the first year, the program focuses on educating and inspiring others about adoption.
Founder and CEO Kelly Ellison brings a unique blend of personal and professional experience to this startup. An adoptive parent and fund raising professional, she has extensive experience coaching families. Dan Cooper, COO, is an expert in SAAS and building company brands. The leadership team is rounded out by CFO Ted Stann and CTO Sean Wilkening.
Digital Sandbox KC assistance will help the company add new services to the current system and build a new gift registry feature.
Phisionary is developing United Benefits Portal, a web application that allows union members to access their fringe benefits information and provides an avenue for contractors to securely pay their union contributions online. Simplifying the backend operations of union management leaves administrators more time for recruiting and growth.
The current paper-driven system is fraught with insecurity and is very labor-intensive. Human error is also a problem and the hours/wages spent on managing the segment is staggering. This app diminishes the chance for human error while also securing union members’ personal information like social security number, address and insurance data. Also, it will benefit union cash flow as it will enable immediate and online secure payment options for members and contractors.
The Phisionary web-based application will offer all union members constant access to their benefit labor profile. Beyond that, it serves to update each union’s system of operations by offering a secure and streamlined approach to handling such vital and secure personal information. Also, this application will positively impact each union contractor’s ability to source labor from the union and pay the workers benefits quickly and securely.
According to the most recent census data there are currently 14.4 million registered union members in the United States.
The evolution of this idea stemmed from a request by Brotherhood Bank, the union bank of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, to explore some ideas for helping their union members stay more involved in union activities and their fringe benefits.
The management team’s construction and union backgrounds have enabled them to build other strong connections in the industry. CEO Josh Wendel was a union bricklayer and still maintains a connection with that union. President and COO Dave Wowak has a background in construction subcontracting and has connections with Kansas City’s Teamster Local 41. The advisory team includes Joe Huber of A.L. Huber Construction and Lawrence Rebman, Missouri Department of Labor’s former director.
Digital Sandbox KC project funding will enable the company to develop a beta version of the company’s online app.
Welltodo is a mobile health technology company that is bringing personal health care into the age of big data and the intelligent machine. Founded by Chris Cardinal, Jim Console M.D., and Will Landecker, the company leverages the latest advances in data analytics, medical monitoring, and behavioral science to target chronic diseases with personalized behavioral interventions and disease management steps that lead to improved health outcomes.
Traditional models of health care don’t adequately utilize the ever-growing availability relevant personalized health data that we leave behind just by living our day-to-day lives. This leads to:
- A more fallible health care system full of health care recommendations that are based on insufficient and often outdated personal and population information
- Denied relief to chronic disease sufferers
- Accelerating system wide health costs proportionate to population aging and chronic illness cases
- Significant global economic burdens from employee absences, workers’ compensation claims, and lost worker productivity
Welltodo’s initial product leveraging their Smart Health Platform is Welltodo Migraine, a mobile application which predicts individuals’ migraines, warns them prior to an attack, and gives personalized actionable insight on how to manage upcoming attacks. Currently migraine affects 11% (783M) of adults worldwide with a three-times higher rate in women.
Proof of concept funding will assist in implementation of a pilot study for their mobile app, Welltodo Migraine.
RFP365 provides software to facilitate the entire RFP process. From RFP creation, through vendor response collection, to scoring, this intelligent RFP software connects procurement teams and suppliers in an integrated and seamless platform. RFP365 helps teams work together, manage knowledge, and analyze their processes for continual improvement.
Founded by Stuart Ludlow and David Hulsen in 2012, the company launched its first release in March and rebranded its site and application this fall. Digital Sandbox KC will assist in upgrading the core infrastructure and support future integrations with external applications.
The product seeks to unify the components in the RFP process. The RFP process (including RFI, RFQ, etc.) has not matured. There are several disjointed components within the overall process which, when integrated, can lead to significant cost and time savings. Procurement teams need to reduce purchasing costs, increase speed-to-market, and make fact-based decisions. The current process of creating documents, delivering them to vendors, scouring proposals, and creating scoring checklists is heavily manual and inefficient. Vendor teams needs to be able to respond to RFPs in hours, not weeks. They need to be able to track tasks, manage knowledge, and work together no matter where individual members are located.
When the process is integrated, data is transferred from one team to another at key points. Data, not documents, can be filtered, searched, and leveraged as we expect in our modern, connected world. RFP365 can help small companies compete with large, incumbent providers. This competition can reduce overall costs. We help shorten the overall procurement timeframe by leveraging templates, searching knowledge repositories, and maintaining real-time access to data.
RFP365 allows procurement teams and their potential vendors to share data in an efficient and effective process. The platform provides benefits to both purchasers and vendors, respectively.
FolioMatch is an educational portfolio platform designed for students as they navigate the competitive field while applying for college, graduate school or their first job. FolioMatch helps match students with schools specializing in their degree field. Additionally, the FolioMatch platform helps schools market more directly to the prospective students.
Evan Kirsch, founder and CEO, recounts the inspiration for the product. “I was sitting on my couch being pressured from family about how I was going to get a job after graduation. Knowing the likelihood was not high (based on the economy and stories from previous graduates) I decided to create a new way to present myself from all other applicants and college seniors. During the course of 2012, I shifted from building something for myself, to something for all students across the globe.” Kirsch and co-founder Andrea Moran based the company on this opportunity and have made great strides in development. Digital Sandbox is supporting front-end web development for FolioMatch’s platform. The first of two projects is complete and will allow FolioMatch to launch and test its beta version. The second project is currently under way.
FolioMatch addresses a pressing need for students. Many discover too late that they need an attractive way to display the work they’ve accomplished. At the same time, other young professionals are left wondering what career path is right for them. FolioMatch aspires to be a resource to all the students out there who need more than a place to store their stuff. The company provides guidance and the tools students need to pursue their dreams – and be a success.
This is why FolioMatch is going beyond the online portfolio and has created a way to match students with the resources they need to succeed. FolioMatch has the ability to take the work done, plus any other interests, and match students with potential schools, scholarships, internships, service opportunities and a mentor. FolioMatch isn’t just an excellent resource for students: matching goes both ways. Now schools can find the perfect candidates for their scholarships and programs, without having to wonder if this student will excel at one’s campus. Their portfolios prove they are up to the challenge.
Speaking of challenge, it’s a tough job market out there for both businesses and college graduates. Now students will be able to get the experience they need and businesses will hire the students they want with our matching service. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.
Informed Health Solutions
Readmission to the hospital comes at a huge cost for the hospital with the new penalties in place. The risk of readmission to the hospital is high for many patients, especially those with chronic, complex illnesses, such as heart failure. Informed Health Solutions, with the assistance of Digital Sandbox KC, is working to change that model.
Informed Health Solutions has developed a sophisticated blend of both high-touch and high-tech tools, designed to safely transition newly discharged heart failure patients from the hospital to home. Use of the tools and processes developed by Informed Health Solutions typically reduces heart failure readmissions by 30-60%, at a per-patient cost far lower than other approaches. IHS also shares a percentage of its revenues with its hospital customer.
Elizabeth Blanchard Hills, founder and president, explains it this way: “We are focused on the care Transitions space; how patients successfully transition from a stay in the hospital back into the community. Our processes are the result of great science—a randomized clinical trial we recently completed– and our care model relies primarily upon the power of group interactions. Put simply, we help patients change their stories—instead of being isolated and afraid, we empower them to become engaged patients who partner successfully with their health care team. The magic happens in groups—four clinics that meet weekly for one month following discharge.”
Informed Health Solutions joins other tech, mobile and data companies in the Digital Sandbox. The Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes. Support for each Sandbox participant is customized based on the unique needs of the project as well as the resources required to move the product or service forward.
Hills was provided a Digital Sandbox KC scholarship to participate in FastTrac® TechVenture™, an intensive eight-session course designed to give technology and science-based entrepreneurs a proven framework and network of connections to help grow a great idea into the next viable innovation. She credits the class with changing her strategic thinking. “I went from thinking of myself as a person with a passionate idea to thinking of myself as an investor. We heard one lecture about what investors look for. That was my big ‘ah ha’ moment…why wouldn’t I look at this as an investor?” she said.
Hills also credited Digital Sandbox KC with connecting her to other startups, mentors and resources.
“Informed Health Solutions is an example of how Digital Sandbox can help entrepreneurs and startups in many ways,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “Elizabeth was very passionate about her company but needed some help in further developing the business model so we offered her a Kauffman FastTrac scholarship and that was exactly what she needed at the time.”
While the company is still in its early stages, Informed Health Solutions is generating revenue and has been successful in several competitions and grant requests:
- Semifinalist, 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “Care About Your Care” video contest
- Winner, 2012 Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s Innovator’s Award: Quality and Patient Safety category
- Winner, National Institutes of Health grant, HF Clinic Appointments: Self-Management & Care of Heart Failure
- Winner, SBIR grant, Lowering the Cost of Congestive Heart Failure
- Winner, EAG 10th Anniversary Pay-it-Forward Celebration–$10,000 worth of marketing
- Secured a pilot with KU Hospital beginning in early 2014