As usual, a huge thank you to our supporters:
UVM, Vermont Technology Council, Middlebury College, Vermont Agency of Commerce, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, VT EPSCoR, Fairpoint Communications, and GBIC.
Office: VCET @BTV
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, how did you get involved with VCET?
I was born in DC, but grew up in New Hampshire. I ended up in Vermont as a lifestyle choice. My previous company, ForMyOdds, was also incubated at VCET. We built the first IVF predictive app, the first multiple sclerosis predictive app, and another one for breast cancer pathways. A number of pharma companies have asked us to customize these apps towards the wearables space, and to capture data from the Internet of Things (IoT), so that’s where these apps are heading. We enhanced these greatly with help from Marguerite Dibble and the GameTheory team. We built many relationships through FMO that have been extremely valuable in building trUStr. We also had Uwe Heiss design our awesome logo and slides.
What is trUStr?
trUStr is all about rewards for best practices. We’ve cracked a nut in that we’re able to reward any behavioral change that will resonate over time in the best possible way. As we apply behavioral economic theory to what we’re doing, we’ve been able to make getting rewarded fun and beneficial. This is really a purpose-driven company. The environment we’ve created is extremely secure, which is very important to users, and we have a super smart and creative team. We’ve tested different markets, (like the insurance markets), but we have some secret sauce that we believe will be disruptive.
What makes trUStr unique? What makes Vermont unique?
trUStr rewards excellence in unexpected ways that work. As it gets rolled out, we expect to learn a lot more about what motivates change. I have been able to work with local universities and non-profit entities that bring real competitive advantage to the market. Vermont offers a rich intellectual environment, but with a lack of business infrastructure and relatively low cost of living, which is actually a big advantage for us. The extremely knowledgeable and creative people available in Vermont would have been quickly snatched up on the west coast.
How did you come up with trUStr?
UVM’s Dr. John Evans suggested that I create something in Vermont that leverages incentives; originally I said no. But shortly after that conversation, believe it or not, trUStr came to me in a dream. Existing rewards programs provide overly standardized options. It is the people who run marathons that are winning the corporate wellness contests, yet the bottom 10% are the ones costing companies the most resources. I envisioned a better solution and put together the right team to make it happen.
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
Finding the right talent for our team and choosing smart money that will give us an 18 month runway. We want to stay in VT, and the venture firms have so far been very supportive of that. Another challenge has been grabbing market share, while keeping things simple and staying true to ourselves. We have so many great ideas which we bookmark, but we need to stay focused. Cyber-hygiene presented an ideal to leverage our contacts who have renowned expertise in cybersecurity. David Bradbury helped to put us together with Norwich University and it is looking very promising. We are really excited about rewarding good cyber practices such as changing passwords and logging off. This is HUGE.
What has been your largest success?
My daughters (ages 1 and 4). They’re constantly inspiring me. Being dad has also made me much more efficient with my time. I know that I have to get everything done during the day so that I can spend time with my daughters when I’m at home.
What are you looking forward to most on a personal level?
Taking the stigma out of making yourself a better you. And I want to see more people connecting and getting along through disruptive innovations. I also want to help the innovators of tomorrow. I’m done inventing, I want to enhance other people’s ideas.
Anything else you want us to know about you or trUStr?
It’s free to the user. We hope that we’ll encourage people by nudging them towards a more fabulous self. It’s a win-win to the employer and the person using trUStr, not to mention the advertiser and the whole trUStr team. I’d like to say that trUStr will ride shotgun with company wellness initiatives, but that expression may be dated to 2016!
Also, I recently rode in the first 3D printed super car (as seen above), called Blade! Check it out here.
VCET@BTV welcomes three new groups: Ogee, ThinkMD, and the UVM Medical Center Innovation Program, as well as several new individuals.
Dave’s Pick of the Week:
The Bill Simmons Podcast
Ep. 95: Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca
The One Step Everyone Misses In Marketing (And How To Fix It)
Andy Karuza, founder at brandbuddee.com and co-founder at Fensens, reminds entrepreneurs not to market backwards.
No Venture Capital Needed, or Wanted
A great New York Times article on the difference between start-ups that are self-financed and those that seek investors to raise money.
The Harvard Innovation Labs: The story behind the numbers
A great account of how Harvard has bridged the gap between different fields to foster entrepreneurial innovation through their Innovation Labs
What does it take to raise capital, in SaaS, in 2016?
Christoph Janz, Managing Partner at Point Nine Capital and SaaS investor, gives his thoughts on raising capital in the SaaS industry.
Got Kids? Check out the VT Summer Tech Camps for ages 6-14 run by the Young Hacks Academy. They are being held in locations all over VT this summer, including Burlington and Middlebury.