Deb Thompson has a son who cannot speak. He was diagnosed as autistic at age 2 ½.
Now 25, Evan works two part-time jobs, with job coaches alongside him.
Thompson is the co-founder of Stimmi, a Madison startup that compiles all of the important information for caregivers to know about a person with autism or other special needs and makes it available on an app.
Stimmi was one of five young Madison companies to conclude a 10-week mentorship program from the Madworks Seed Accelerator.
In a presentation at the class graduation on Monday, Thompson said it’s very hard to leave her son in another person’s care because his needs are so complex.
Asked how often she and her husband have taken trips without their son, she said, “We have never gone on vacation (alone),” her voice cracking with emotion.
Madworks and gener8tor’s gBETA program in Madison both wrapped up their fall sessions recently. That means a total of 10 local startups have gone through the paces and come out with a new understanding of how to make a mark in today’s business world.
At Madworks, all five of the startups dealt with human resources-type issues, and two focused on the needs of caregivers.
In addition to Stimmi, Tailored Care Enterprises is designed to help people caring for family members in their home to take care of themselves.
Its product, TCARE (Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral), is a series of assessments, care planning tools and community resources for health care professionals to use as a way to support people who are unpaid caregivers trying to keep family members out of assisted living or nursing home facilities.
With the baby boom generation, “we are going through a silver tsunami,” co-founder and chief operating officer Jessica Jacobs-Vechinski told the graduation audience.
She said health care workers gauge the stressfulness of the home care situation, and conduct assessments every three to six months.
“It’s the frustration, the resentment, the guilt, the feeling like you’re not doing enough that causes the burnout,” she said.
TCARE was developed at UW-Milwaukee starting in 2005 with the help of hundreds of care providers, Jacobs-Vechinski said. She said the state of Washington has been using the platform since 2009, and it has saved the state $10 million a year in Medicaid costs.
TCARE was founded as a business in 2014 and is now used by 400 care professionals who have served more than 50,000 caregivers in 17 states, she said.
Stimmi, established in August 2016, came about because Deb Thompson worried about her son’s future needs.
“My greatest fear is: If something happened to me, how would somebody know how to care for my son?” Thompson said.
She joined forces with Laura Berkner, a physician assistant who often works with adults with disabilities, and they came up with the idea of putting together all sorts of information in one app. Ten Forward Consulting, Madison, developed the software.
The app includes not only basics such as medications, emergency contacts and daily routines, but such specifics as how to handle behavioral issues or how to change a feeding tube. The information can be in written, audio or video format and is stored on a secure platform for a monthly fee. The app also lets caregivers exchange direct notes with family members or other caregivers.
The other graduates are: Clock’d, a staffing company for bars and restaurants; Wolf Flow, a workflow-management platform that lets people organize their computer desktops by project; and ThirdSpace, a tool to develop company culture and employee engagement.
Meanwhile, these Madison startups were in the fall session of gBETA, the gener8tor accelerator’s free program for early-stage companies:
- AddItYourself—A marketplace for guerilla advertising.
- DataChat—A data analytics platform that lets people analyze data using plain English rather than computer code. Licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the platform was developed by Madison serial entrepreneur Jignesh Patel.
- Forage Kombucha—Sells probiotic-rich, organic, canned kombucha, a fermented tea beverage; affiliated with Forage Kitchen.
- Immuto Scientific—A patented device for analyzing proteins in the drug development process, licensed from WARF.
- Somni—A four-week, digital sleep therapy program to help people improve their sleep habits.
GBETA completed its seven-week session on Dec. 8.