Editor’s note: Startland News selected 10 Kansas City scaling businesses to spotlight for its annual Startups to Watch list. Now in its eighth year, this feature recognizes founders and startups that editors believe will make some of the biggest news in the coming 12 months. The following is one of 2023’s companies.
Dr. Brandy Archie is passionate about overcoming the challenge of aging in place; a problem she said affects everyone at some point.
An occupational therapist, Archie launched the AskSAMIE (Solving Accessibility with Mobile Innovative Equipment) platform in January to expand the reach of her company AccessAble Living beyond the KC metro area.
Elevator pitch: AskSAMIE is a curated marketplace making aging in place possible. Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then we build you a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources so that things can be as easy as possible at home. It’s intentionally designed to be easy for any one with knowledge of the problems — from a family caregiver to a healthcare professional.
- Founder: Dr. Brandy Archie, OTD, OTR/L
- Founding year: 2022
- Current employee count: 1
- Amount raised to date: $40,000
- Noteworthy investors: all non-dilutive funding
- Programs completed: Digital Sandbox KC, Pure Pitch Rally
“If I don’t try every single thing that I have available to myself to make something work to solve this problem, then I will feel like I fell short,” she said. “Because I know it’s a problem that a lot of people have.”
Although she is in the early stages of her health tech startup, Archie has seen a lot of momentum in its first year. She received $40,000 in funding, including from Pure Pitch Rally and Digital Sandbox, which she said has helped her get the beta version of the app off the ground.
“That has been amazing,” she explained. “First of all, the money won from pitch competitions is invaluable because we needed to get this developed and to market it and to do all the things we need to do. But also it creates a ton of connections. Especially Pure Pitch, because those are 20 individual funders. And that’s 20 different people in the ecosystem that I am working on connecting with – who have ideas for us and people for us to work with — and that really has kept the ball rolling.”
But it’s not just the funding that provides validation for Archie, she said, it’s the personal stories.
At Pure Pitch Rally – where she garnered the most funding with $20,000 – many of the individuals who chose to give their money to AskSAMIE had a parent or grandparent dealing with these aging-in-place issues, she shared.
“No matter what kind of relationship they have with that person — if they were really doing it or if they were across the country — everybody felt like they could see the need here,” she continued. “And that means a lot to me because it means we’re solving a real problem. I just like to know that we’re trying to make people’s lives easier in a time when it’s already really stressful. This is just one piece of a very large puzzle of caregiving, even if it’s not going to be a permanent change.”
The beta version of AskSAMIE is set to launch to those signed up on the waitlist in January, Archie said.
“This time last year AskSAMIE was just an idea, and so all of 2022, I have been talking about it,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest differences between AskSAMIE and what I did with AccessAble Living: You’ve got to tell people about it because they won’t know to come. Even though it’s not ready yet, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about it through all the education that I do, usually to professionals. So I’m really excited about being able to release something to them. Because the majority of the people on the waitlist are professionals in healthcare — social workers and therapists. So hopefully it’ll spread pretty quickly.”
Archie is preparing for a full launch and a marketing push in February, she said.
“I’m looking forward to starting to have some sales that can fund the business and then keep innovating on the app and adding more features that we already know we want but are not quite there yet,” she added. “Just so that we can give people the tool in the way that works best for them.”
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