This week's blog continues to preview the companies in our Class of 2015 in anticipation of their upcoming Demo Day on April 10th, 2015. We're very excited to introduce this new class of entrepreneurs to the world! Below, meet three companies providing tech-savvy solutions to pressing problems:
The rise of online classified ads for products and services, as well as the continued success of online dating companies, provides easy access to goods (eBay), services (Angie's List, Craigslist), and potential romance (Match.com, eHarmony). It has also led to an increase in cyber-crime, from deception and fraud to assault and worse. VeriQuick founder Dustin Abercrombie noticed despite our basic human need for safety and personal security, the advent of the Internet has led us to largely sacrificed this most basic need for the sake of speed and convenience. VeriQuik is making the Internet as whole, and specifically meeting someone online, a safer experience for all users.
“We’ve all seen the headlines in the news and know the dangers of meeting people in person after first meeting them online. Our platform allows you to verify someone’s identity before meeting them in person for the first time.” - Dustin Abercrombie, VeriQuik
VeriQuik's safe, streamlined process allows Internet users to be proactive by completing a series of certified background screens based on their needs. Users can quickly establish, authenticate, validate and verify their online identities. Think of it as the “Carfax” for people.
The team behind VeriQuick has real-world experience in law enforcement, security, and computer forensic analysis, putting them in a uniquely powerful position to solve this serious problem. Founder and CEO Dustin Abercrombie has 11 years of experience in law enforcement and was the youngest Chief of Police in the Kansas City Metropolitan area. Co-Founder and COO Kerry Baker started his law enforcement career in 1996 with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. As a Patrol Officer, Homicide Detective, Special Agent of the US Secret Service, and now Special Agent with the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has in-depth experience with a broad variety of criminal allegations including crimes against persons, contract fraud, and benefits fraud.
VeriQuick has been working hard developing their product during their time at SparkLabKC, and we can't wait to see the impact they have on online security.
Founder Lance Windholz is an Android kind of guy, and in recent years he's noticed more and more people switching to iPhones. While searching for the reason why, he realized that because individual manufacturers each build their own user experience for Android devices, the result is a bloated and confusing user experience that is difficult to understand and changes from one device to another. Apple's dedication to building a simple, easy to use experience has led people to switch from Android to iPhone. Rock-it Launcher is building a homescreen launcher that changes the way Android users interact with their apps. Their focus is on allowing users to quickly and easily get in and out of the many apps they use during the day.
“Stop sifting through your address book to find a contact or digging through folders in search of an app on your smartphone. The Rock-It Launcher homepage makes it easy to find apps and contacts on your smartphone instantly.” - Lance Windholz, Rock-it Launcher
Lance's history and experience as a user experience designer inspired him to find a simple solution to this major problem for Android users. In addition, his experience leading several local development companies has given him the resources and know-how to build a great product. During their time at SparkLabKC, VeriQuick launched an alpha product that allowed a user to filter down every app and contact on their phone without ever leaving the home screen. With the feedback they received from that release, they have focused on integrating more powerful search features that continue to make the searching and filtering process easier.
With a focus on simplicity and beautiful user experiences, Rock-it Launcher will help Android give the iPhone a run for its money.
Through their experiences with friends who suffered from depression and other bumps on the road of life, the Talk2Me founders identified a major problem: Many people do not get the help they need due to the stigma of "going public" with whatever issues they are facing. Especially for certain demographics (including men 40-65 years old), the stigma of seeking treatment is a barrier to getting the help they need.
Talk2Me's platform offers the ability to connect with a life coach or licensed professional therapist for a discrete, secure 20, 30 or 50 minute session using a secure messaging service or video. Both services are encrypted and HIPAA compliant to protect the client's privacy.
“Online counseling with Talk2Me allows you to connect with a licensed therapist in the privacy of your home, at your convenience.”
- Mark Nolte, Talk2Me
Co-founder Mark Nolte has a long and strong history in medical sales, having been in the field for more than 30 years. He grew his company Mark Medical from $0 to $2.5 million in revenue in just three years. Co-founder Jim Braun is the Founder and CEO of Penteon, which produces Web-based applications for public Web sites, corporate Intranets, and industry specific applications. Jim has two technology patents and is developing a low-latency video platform and a secure messaging app for computers, tablets, and smart phones. Talk2Me has also spent their time at SparkLabKC doing in-depth market research to identify potential customers and how best to reach them.
Through their combined expertise, Mark and Jim are tackling a serious problem with technology that has major implications for the future of mental health care.
Check in next week to learn about our final four companies as we gear up for Demo Day on April 10th, 2015! In the meantime, tweet us @SparkLabKC!