A millennial CEO hopes a weeklong trip to Las Vegas and a weeklong stay at a senior residence community will help his start-up company further develop its business and products.
Reemo, the Minneapolis-based health care technology start-up is gaining more traction in its plans help seniors and other mobility impaired people live healthier and more independently.
Reemo has developed software that turns smartwatches into gesture-driven devices that helpclients control a variety of household devices easily and remotely.
When we last wrote about the start-up in September, CEO Al Baker was transitioning Reemo from a technology company to a health care company.
Reemo had already realized that it didn’t need to create wearable hardware devices, instead banking its future in providing propriety software on a number of different platforms. The company also had begun to explore how it fits in the overall health care marketplace.
"In the last six months, we've really started to understand what we can do and what this can mean to our customers and our industry," Baker said.
Reemo’s platform now incorporates health monitoring features. So in addition to the gesture-driven control of household devices, the software can track health activity and be a communication device between customers, their families and/or their health care providers.
Baker is convinced seniors are not technology adverse but can feel stigmatized by technology that looks and feels assistive. Reemo software loaded on Sumsung’s Gear S2 smartwatch becomes a conversation starter with peers and younger people.
Now the company is ready to demonstrate those possibilities in new relationships with Samsung and Brookdale Senior Living Inc., the largest operator of senior living communities in the United States.
Brookdale is headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn., but has about 1,123 communities in 47 states, including 16 locations in Minnesota.
Next week, Baker will be in Las Vegas with Samsung doing demos at a big industry conference presented by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. (The HIMSS conference is Feb. 29 to March 4.)
The Samsung partnership gets Reemo access to the Samsung sales distribution system and, according to Baker, introductions from Samsung to any number of other industry experts to aid in Reemo’s continued development.
Samsung already has a full suite of hardware products from smartwatches and phones to tablet computers, PCs and Internet of things devices through their August 2014 acquisition of Minnesota-based SmartThings. Now the company is looking for software applications that can fully leverage its devices within a health care setting.
“Samsung said the way they are going to win in this industry is by partnering with companies, like SmartThings or other solution-based companies that are going to make their hardware do more,” Baker said. “They were looking for companies just like us because they wanted to get into three primary categories, and that was the hospital, the post-hospital surgeries area and thirdly senior care.”
Shortly after Baker returns from the HIMSS conference, he and Reemo’s chief technology officer, Ahmed Daoud will participate in Brookdale’s Entrepreneur in Residence program.
From March 7 to 11, the 25-year-old Baker and 32-year old Daoud will be residents of Brookdale Edina, which provides independent living, assisted living and dementia care.
“What we are going to be doing during that time is understanding who the residents are, who the team members are … and building relationships with them,” Baker said. “And really just taking the time to learn how our technology can impact their facility and afterward bringing those results to their management team.”
Brookdale hopes the in-residence program helps entrepreneurs further develop their products and business models, and Brookdale hopes to inspire more entrepreneurs to become interested in serving their demographic.
Andrew Smith, Brookdale’s director of strategy and innovation, oversees the company’s Entreprenuer in Residence program, which started in 2015. Reemo is the fifth company to participate, and Brookdale has eight more pilot projects lined up for the rest of this year.
They started with seniors first and that makes them really worth partnering with,” Smith said of Reemo.
Smith said he is seeing more innovation from entrepreneurs and established companies using adaptive technology. He says seniors are also eager to offer their feedback on products.
“The perception is that seniors are anti-technology,” Smith said. “We've found that they love technology. They want to use it. It's just they need a little bit of education about it and they need to use it for something they really care about."