Televëda, a health and technology startup associated with ASU's Venture Devils, won a $50,000 grant in the Greater Phoenix Tech Challenge for the company's pivot to meet the demands caused by the coronavirus.
The startup's goal is to provide virtual programs, live-streaming games and wellness classes to nursing home residents to help combat loneliness.
The challenge was hosted by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council in a virtual meeting over Zoom on Thursday, May 28.
The final pitch meeting featured just four finalists out of 40 submissions, three being startups with Venture Devils. Navi Concierge Nurses and Sensagrate joined televëda as the other ASU startups. The fourth finalist was Beacon Biomedical.
All of the finalists' pitches aimed to ease the burdens brought upon by the pandemic, such as safely reopening businesses or improved health care services. televëda is no different.
The startup’s pitch is to provide virtual programs to the elderly in nursing homes to alleviate the isolation those living in the homes experience.
Shruti Gurudanti, CEO and co-founder of televëda, said in the meeting that even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, nursing homes were already overburdened with low-wage staff and seniors already experiencing isolation in these homes. COVID-19 has halted programs and activities in these communities to protect the vulnerable population that live within them, increasing the social isolation the elderly face, Gurudanti said.
Gurudanti said virtual communities in senior living facilities have now become a necessity, rather than a novelty.
“Our software provides organizations with an online infrastructure that helps them build, grow and scale virtual communities,” Gurudanti said. “We do everything from providing them with online content, to providing them with an accessible platform that seniors can use and participate in, to providing them with an automated system of reminders and most importantly (provide) tech support.”
In the past 30 days, the company has doubled its revenue and has turned short-term customers into long-term users, Gurudanti said.
Gurudanti said the grant money, which was provided by Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy at the Arizona Community Foundation, would be used to boost televëda’s tech support and ensure quick responses.
“Right now we're getting overwhelmed by phone calls and we don't have enough warm bodies to pick up the call, and the last thing I want my customers or my users to experience … is to have to stay on the phone for longer than five minutes,” Gurudanti said.
Gurudanti said the $50,000 will allow for a "more robust" tech support team that can better serve nursing homes in Arizona and, potentially, expand across the nation.
"Together, as a community, we can impact so many lives," Gurudanti said.
Wyatt Myskow is the project manager at The State Press, where he oversees enterprise stories for the publication. He also works at The Arizona Republic, where he covers the cities of Peoria and Surprise.