Start-up Society #80: The Christmas Special 🎄
Keeping the American Dream Alive
Welcome to the 80th edition of Start-up Society! This blog highlights some of the most exciting start-ups in the country striving to keep the American Dream alive.
Make sure you check out the previous issue, if you have not already, here.
Merry Christmas! On this cheery Christmas morning, we present to you a holiday special.
Last month, history was made in the USA. Towering at 140 feet, America’s tallest Christmas tree now lives in Enid, Oklahoma. The gigantic fir traveled 2,000 miles from just outside California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest, where it was chosen from trees marked for harvest.
Decorated with 20,000 multi-colored LED lights, 10,000 ornaments, and ringed by a forest of 12 smaller trees, the “Christ Tree” is being heralded as the world’s tallest Christmas tree. It’s also the centerpiece of The One, the city’s 42-day event featuring concerts, plays, and activities celebrating Christmas.
The One is the invention of Enid entrepreneur Kyle Williams. He told The Oklahoman that the tree was hauled all the way from California back in October. Kyle and his wife Carol came up with the idea for “The One” extravaganza with their four grown children. They envisioned a series of concerts, plays, and other activities to take place around a huge tree in downtown Enid. That vision has now manifested!
To celebrate Kyle’s entrepreneurship and this wonderful milestone, we are going to spotlight two different start-ups from his home state of Oklahoma, also known as the Sooner State!
The first company we highlight recently changed its HQ location, while the second company recently changed its name! In our last article of 2021, it is fitting that we embrace change for the better as we spring into the new year.
Employees: 19 (on LinkedIn)
ABOUT THE COMPANY
- PatchRx has created technology to ensure that patients are taking the right medicine at the right time, boosting adherence.
- The startup combines a universal smart pill bottle device, a patient-facing app, and a pharmacy web app to help patients take medications on-time, allow for refills, reward patients for good adherence, and streamline true adherence data back to care providers.
- PatchRx’s patented bottle cap device works with all types of pill bottles used by pharmacies and in clinical trials to remind patients to take the correct doses on time. Currently, the technology is used by independent pharmacies and health systems in research studies across Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, providing them with digital infrastructure to compete with national chains.
- On July 7, 2021, the start-up announced it raised $1.2 million in a seed funding round led by Atento Capital, with participation from Cortado Ventures and the Gaingels Network.
- PatchRx will use the capital to build out its enterprise software and national sales teams and scale its platform to larger retail pharmacy chains across North America.
MEET THE TEAM
“When Gavin and I first met, his grandfather had recently passed away due to a medication non-adherence issue. And not long after, I was diagnosed with cancer and learned firsthand how overwhelming it could be to manage multiple prescriptions. From that point on, we were focused on easing the burden that patients and families feel from managing medications.” — Andrew Aertker, Co-Founder of PatchRx
“Andrew and Gavin’s experiences with medication adherence prove that PatchRx isn’t just a business, it’s personal. We’re glad to see PatchRx take its potential to drive patient outcomes to the next level, and we’re beyond excited they’re choosing to do it in Tulsa.” — Michael Basch, Managing Partner at Atento Capital
Andrew Aertker, Co-Founder
- Previously, Andrew worked as a Developer at SofiaSquare.
- Andrew graduated from Trinity University, where he studied Computer Science and Philosophy.
Gavin Buchanan, Co-Founder
- Previously, Gavin worked as an Associate Research Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- Gavin graduated from Trinity University, where he studied Economics and Math.
Peter Daggett, Head of Product Operations
- A recent addition to the team, Peter joined PatchRx in October 2021.
- Previously, Peter was the Co-Founder & Head of Sales at Volt! Another company we are highlighting today….more on them later.
- Peter graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2019, where he studied Entrepreneurship and Venture Management
THE START-UP SOCIETY ASSESSMENT
- According to the World Health Organization, poor medication adherence can account for up to 25% of hospitalizations and approximately 125,000 deaths every year in the U.S.
- PatchRx’s patented universal smart pill bottle cap device could save countless lives by revolutionizing clinical trials, preventing drug abuse of potentially addicting pain medication, and helping patients remember to take their medicine.
Employees: 17 (on LinkedIn)
ABOUT THE COMPANY
- Volt is a leading SMS platform built on compliance to help companies confidently connect with their customers.
- Volt steers users through the complexities of at-scale texting, shortening sales cycles, increasing conversion rates, and building lifelong customer relationships. Companies using Volt’s platform on average realize an impressive 97% delivery rate and 52% engagement rate.
- In 2021, U.S. phone carriers implemented 10DLC regulations to help eliminate spam and clean up SMS messaging. 10DLC regulations are a positive step in the right direction for better business texting. However, brands that fail to comply with these regulations can face compounding fines of up to $10,000 and reduced or discontinued service.
- With built-in 10DLC checks, Volt’s messaging platform is designed from the bottom up to increase deliverability, and help users avoid fines and service disruptions. By embracing the future of clean text messaging, Volt empowers companies to confidently connect with customers through SMS, building lifelong relationships.
- On August 24, 2021, the start-up announced a seed round raise of $2.5M led by Mercury, Atento Capital, and Cortado Ventures.
MEET THE TEAM
“When you meet passionate founders who are fresh out of college, living together, and working on something 24/7, there’s a certain energy that compels you to get behind it,” — Will Gray, Head of Investments at Atento Capital.
Martin Langelo Lien, Co-Founder & CEO
- Previously, Martin worked as a Business Development Manager at Martin Bionics Innovations.
- Martin is a ‘start-up guy’, also being a Founder of Vidda Holding and a Co-Founder of Slik Solutions.
- Martin graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2018, where he studied Entrepreneurship and Venture Management
Matt Morfopoulos, Co-Founder & Head of Partnerships & Demand
- Previously, Matt worked as a Sales System Specialist at WEOKIE Federal Credit Union.
- Matt has plenty of marketing expertise, having held positions at McMahon Marketing, Momentum Worldwide, and Ignite2X.
- Matt graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2019, where he studied Entrepreneurship and Venture Management
THE START-UP SOCIETY ASSESSMENT
- Volt’s platform lifts the burden of SMS compliance off of SMBs (small-medium size businesses), enabling them to send personal and trustworthy text messages, without the fear of violating ever-changing regulations that often result in massive fines and penalties.
- As texting regulations take hold, Volt helps companies meet compliance standards, while raising the bar for SMS conversions. These success metrics are reflected in the company’s tremendous growth in 2021, with a 125% increase in revenue, $3.7 million fundraise, and a three-fold increase in the size of the Volt team.