It’s not every day a Hall of Fame football player pitches your product.
And while it wasn’t a flawless performance, Sickweather isn’t complaining about “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan’s effort to highlight the Kansas City-based company’s illness forecasting tech during a flu season segment, CEO Graham Dodge said.
“We had no control over how they were talking about us or how it was being featured. … Unfortunately, when they started talking about us, they didn’t actually say the name of our app, our company or the domain name,” Dodge said. “It was pretty cool. I never thought I’d hear and see (former New York Giants star) Michael Strahan talking about us on national television, so that was very cool.”
In a segment discussing an early start to the flu season, Strahan and Dr. Jennifer Ashton discuss a new warning from the Center for Disease Control regarding 2017’s tenacious strain.
“A lot of people are trying to find innovative ways to make sure they don’t get the flu and don’t get sick — apps are now helping out,” Strahan said, referring to Sickweather.
“Apps are popping up,” Dr. Ashton replied. “One, in particular, I’m going to talk you through is basically an illness crowdsourcing app. … It’s a hypochondriac’s dream.”
Despite the lack of name-dropping, the few seconds of screen time netted Sickweather more than 2,000 downloads, Dodge said. Had the firm’s name been mentioned similar to when it was featured on the “Today” show a few years ago, Sickweather would’ve seen a much bigger bump, Dodge said.
“The ‘Today’ show said ‘Sickweather.com’ and we got 10,000 downloads that day, which then hit this inflection point in terms of iTunes searches to make us the top trending app in the App Store the next day,” he said. “That then got us another 10,000 downloads. … We weren’t able to capture that same inflection point this time on the ‘Good Morning America’ segment.”
Sickweather’s tech scans thousands of social media postings and direct reports from its users to generate illness maps and forecasts.
For example, when a Facebook user posts, “The doctor says I’ve got the flu,” Sickweather will recognize and report the post. When several reports appear nearby one another at roughly the same time, they are grouped as “potential storm activity” represented by heat mapping. The results are displayed via a web-based and mobile app.
The company says its results arrive up to six weeks prior to the Center for Disease Control’s illness reports, and are just as accurate. In fact, the free app — which has more than 261,000 downloads — has even replaced the CDC as the flu map data provider to the Weather Channel.
Created by a team of epidemiologists, Sickweather monetizes the platform by selling data licenses to public health organizations and a variety of enterprises. It also offers clients a dashboard that provides detailed analytics, data export tools and interactive forecasts.
Sickweather investors include Kansas City-based Firebrand Ventures, Brad Feld, 500 Startups, Techstars Ventures and Sprint. A 2014 graduate of the Techstars-led Sprint Accelerator, Sickweather relocated its headquarters from Baltimore to Kansas City in 2017.
Acclimating to the city has been an easy transition, Dodge added.
“Our hearts never really left KC after the Sprint-Techstars accelerator program that we did back in 2014,” he said. “Since coming back, we’ve won a LaunchKC grant prize, scoped out Plexpod for our nerve center, tapped local universities for data science internships, and found a great guy named Dave Switzer to help us with our marketing.”
Now with 13 full-time staffers at its KC and Baltimore offices, Sickweather recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on SeedInvest that hopes to raise $1 million.
Check out the firm’s technology on “Good Morning America” below.