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Ambler : Innovation + Job News

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DIY electronic mental health screenings come to Montgomery Country

We may be used to using automated kiosks to pay for groceries, take out cash, or even check our blood pressure, but what about normalizing this kind of service for mental health screenings, too? The HealthSpark Foundation, with partners Screening for Mental Health and the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation, hopes to increase access to mental health services while reducing the stigma many people feel when they try to address mood disorders.

This month, the organization is debuting five MindKare kiosks in Montgomery County. This comes after two city pilots, one at a North Philadelphia Shop-Rite and another on the Drexel University campus.

According to the partners, the kiosks are "freestanding stations that offer a quick way for individuals to check on their mental and behavioral health by providing online self-assessments." The whole process can take as little as three minutes, explains HealthSpark President and CEO Russell Johnson, who likens the experience of using the touch-screen stations to visiting the ATM.

Evidence-based questions (developed through Screening for Mental Health) that gauge subjects’ feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts result in geographically customized recommendations for follow-up. This includes a list of accessible mental healthcare providers, or encouragement to bring the results of the assessment to a primary care doctor. If a user reveals suicidal thoughts, the kiosk can immediately provide a hotline number for help. Some kiosks enable users to print their results; others offer the option for them to be e-mailed to the user.

As a condition of installing the kiosks, one staffer from the hosting organization who works within view of the kiosk must receive training in mental health first aid. When needed, he or she can be a calming and well-informed presence for a person suffering from severe anxiety or suicidal thoughts, until help arrives.

The program evolved from a Scattergood design challenge a few years ago -- Drexel public health students won with a concept for a mental health-screening kiosk.

"Their interest…was to reduce the stigma associated with behavioral health conditions and create access," explains Johnson.

Dollars from the design challenge win led to the development of the kiosks with help from Screening for Mental Health. After the initial success of the pilot in Philadelphia, HealthSpark came on board, along with the Montgomery County Department of Behavioral Health, to try suburban placements.

According to Johnson, these locations were determined by factors such as geographic diversity and high pedestrian volume. You can find them at the Ambler YMCA, Manna on Main Street in Lansdale, Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Einstein Physicians Collegeville and the Norristown Regional Health Center.

And more kiosks may be coming. Johnson says that Screening for Mental Health, a national organization, is already getting inquiries about installing the kiosks across the country.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Russell Johnson, HealthSpark Foundation

Ambler's LeadiD attracts $1.7M investment by Genacast Ventures, hiring

There is a little known layer that exists between your computer and the company you are visiting on the web. LeadiD exists within that layer, unknown to most but sitting in a lucrative niche.
Based in Ambler, the B2B lead certification company recently closed $1.7 million in funding led by Genacast Ventures.
Ross Shanken, who founded the company and presides as CEO over 11 employees, has developed a way to weed out bad leads online. LeadiD makes its money operating as a go-between for companies looking to sell products or services and their potential customers. "We don't generate leads and we don't buy leads," explains Shanken, who says LeadiD is changing the industry with its patent pending lead certification system. 
Let's say you are doing research on finding a lawyer. You fill out a form on a LeadiD participating website, and a unique 36 character identifier is assigned to that online event. The equivalent of a car's VIN, the ID lives with the lead. 
By contrast, lead buyers are used to dealing with so-called black hat lead generators, who may be selling a lead generated by typing in a name and address from the white pages, or a lead that doesn't have true consumer intent behind the action. These unreliable bits of information are not going to create sales.
Shanken, while employed at TARGUSinfo, says he saw an opportunity in the lead space. "A bank might buy a mortgage lead for $50, call that lead, and find out it's not the person listed. It's a bad lead. There were operational inefficiencies. We started scoring data using demographic information, with a model that showed how likely a person was going to buy a certain product. It became clear that Targus did a good job of cleaning up the data, but had no purview into the intent of the customer."
Since its inception in January 2011, LeadiD has made a name for itself in the industry as an independent neutral third party, says Shanken. LeadiD and its clients are able to know definitely where data is from and where it traveled to prior to the ultimate recipient of the data.,"It's an authentic lead with an authentic consumer. Insurance carriers, schools, automotive companies, law offices, and more are buying data that has a Lead ID and in real time can run a kind of Carfax report."
Shanken reports that there are now over 600,000 Lead IDs created every day, and emphasizes the concept of trust in the transaction. LeadiD's revenue is largely generated through subscription fees based on expected volume, although it's also possible to pay per LeadiD audit.
Now, Shanken says five of the nation's top 10 for-profit schools are clients, and that number will rise to eight of the top 10 in the next three months. There's similar growth in the auto insurance and legal industries. LeadiD will use the Genacast funds to expand the business through hiring and marketing.

Source: Ross Shanken, LeadID
Writer: Sue Spolan

Successful video-software entrepreneur unleashes a simplified personal computing platform

You may imagine successful technology entrepreneurs helping build innovative platforms, selling the company and then sipping a drink on a sunny beach somewhere. Not Fred Allegrezza. After selling AnySource Media--the video software firm he and his partners sold to Divx in 2008--Allegrezza returns with Telikin, the Linux-based PC platform he created to battle the big guns at Apple and Microsoft and make personal computing easier for users 55 and older.

Telikin combines today's most popular features--email, internet access, games, photo sharing, social media--and combines them into a more intuitive, touch-screen design. On November 26, the Telikin hit stores, showing up in eight Philadelphia Clear Wireless locations just in time for Black Friday.

"Telikin is right in this mix between people who are frustrated with Windows computers and all the problems and Apple might be a solution but it is still a lot more expensive" says Allegrezza. "We are not the computer you use if you want to design a house or manage your accounting systems. But it does come with preloaded applications, they all work and they all play nice together."

Telikin was born three years ago, when Allegrezza's mother entered an assisted-living facility. He created a modified Mac computer that would auto-answer Skype calls and manage pictures more easily so that she could stay in touch with her family. The name Telikin comes from the combination of telecommunications and kin, or family. But what started as a device for seniors has become something Allegrezza believes can really challenge America's PC giants.

"What we found, as we were working with customers looking for their senior parents, many were saying 'I want one of these for myself,' says Allegrezza. "It had a broader appeal than we had anticipated so we added in word processing and printing to make it a full-blown computer that even power users can enjoy."

Source: Fred Allegrezza, Telikin
Writer: John Steele

Sustainability-minded singles get their own dating site courtesty of Doylestown healthy living pub

When Cindy Gruenwald started Doylestown's Creating Community magazine 17 years ago, the term "going green" hadn't yet  taken over the American lexicon and Al Gore was famous for simply being the Vice President. Creating Community was launched with a very specific community in mind; those interested in healthy living, sustainability and personal fitness. All these years later, the community is stronger than ever, leading Gruenwald to take her green guidance to the next level. Her new dating website, ANaturalAffinity.com, matches singles with similar interests in leading a healthier, more active and more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

"All of my single friends, no matter how crunchy granola they may be, were doing online dating because they found it hard to meet other single people" says Gruenwald. "And then, in doing online dating, they go on Match.com and there aren't enough like-minded people. Or they go on GreenSingles.com but there are not many people in their area. People who are interested in this range of things, it is generally not a casual interest like loving German Shepherds. These are really cornerstones of someone's lifestyle."

For fans of a more active lifestyle, there are groups and events calendars so dates are built right into the social fabric. The site even offers a list of conversational topics and access to message boards so you can chat before you date. Gruenwald announced the site this week with the hopes of going live January 1. In the meantime, Creating Community is looking to hire two staffers to help manage the site going forward, so that all the features work as they should.

"People want to connect with other people in their area," says Gruenwald. "The range of topics is the thing, really, the range of interests we have put together really drives people."

Source: Cindy Gruenwald, ANaturalAffinity.com
Writer: John Steele

Chariot Solutions founder Mike Rappaport hosts Philly Startup Leaders Entrepreneurs Unplugged series

Philly Startup Leaders' lecture series Entrepreneurs Unplugged can always be counted on for a great bootstraping, one-man-against-the-world story. But for Mike Rappaport, founder of tech consulting firm Chariot Solutions, going it alone was not an option. Founded in 2002, Chariot has become a million-dollar application consultant company with over 50 employees and has been voted the best place to work amongst small businesses in Philadelphia. So what advice will he have for the struggling entrepreneur when he hits the EU stage on October 20th? There's no I in TEAM.

"The title [of the lecture] is 'Philosophy-Driven Business Growth,' but if I had it to do over again, the title might be better as something like 'The Power of True Team Management,' says Rappaport. "This is not the story of an entrepreneur or a CEO that led his company to greatness, its about a team. Its about how I relied on so many people and really spent my time picking the right people."

Not only is Rappaport a firm believer in a team environment in the workplace, he credits his very existence to delegating, finding quality partners and getting the most out of your business relationships. Once the funding was in place, he chose a team, created a philosophy and was careful to pick people who could share his philosophy. But it all started with those first relationships to get the business off the ground.

"We started with a small level of funding and we go to a point about six months in where we thought we might run out of money," says Rappaport. "Even though the business was going according to plan, we were undercapatolized. One of my mentors really helped us and let us in on other ways to raise money that I was completely unaware of. It was so helpful to know all the resources that were out there."

Source: Mike Rappaport, Chariot Solutions
Writer: John Steele

With capital investment, Halfpenny Technologies gears up for product launch, adds veteran staff

With Lab Hub, Blue Bell's Halfpenny Technologies hopes to take Health Information Exchange technology to the next level, integrating features like computerized order entry and results reporting with the company's already-respected exchange tools. With a little help from their friends, Halfpenny may be ready to deliver this turnkey technology sooner than expected as the company announced two big steps forward last week.

First came a $2.6 million venture capital investment. Locals like Bala Cynwyd-based Osage Venture Partners and LORE (Loosely Organized Retired Executives) Associates partnered with New York-based Milestone Venture Partners to put support behind Lab Hub. Investors believe the financing will help push Lab Hub over the finish line.

"Halfpenny's strong technology platform, domain expertise and solid business strategy combined with its growing client base have positioned the company to move to the next level, says Osage Venture Partners vice president David Drahms. "We look forward to partnering with Halfpenny in meeting the needs of the evolving healthcare market."

Halfpenny also announced the addition of four industry veterans to the Halfpenny Management Team. New team members include , executive vice president of business development Mitch Fry; chief financial officer Daniel O'Brien; senior vice president of sales Roger Newbury; and vice president of sales Jim Sheils. While trying to establish Lab Hub in new markets, Halfpenny officials hope these experienced team members can keep things growing.

"All of our new team members have impressive track records in healthcare and understand the complex challenges facing the industry today," says Halfpenny chief sales officer Bob Cox. "We are pleased to be able to draw upon the strategic vision and in-depth understanding of these healthcare veterans and look forward to their insights and ideas as we continue to develop solutions that address ever-expanding laboratory outreach, HIE and REC initiatives."

Source: Bob Cox, Halfpenny Technologies
Writer: John Steele

Interactive mapping platform launched to connect Philadelphians to their local communities

It's one of life's great mysteries: you can travel to a thousand cities and eat at a hundred fancy restaurants and drink a dozen craft beers at each of the bars along the way. But a meal never tastes as good as one at your favorite neighborhood haunt. And according to Philadelphia's sustainability leaders, this phenomenon is not just good for your appetite, it can be good for your neighborhood and your city as well.

Based on a concept created by the William Penn Foundation, partners from the Sustainable Business Network, Azavea and NPower created Common Space, a new mapping platform that creates a network of neighborhood establishments within a certain walkable, bikeable or busable distance to help residents support local business.

"The really cool thing is, I can map my friend's common space as well as my own," says SBN Executive Director Leanne Krueger-Braneky. "So if I am leaving from my office in Center City and meeting my husband who is coming from our house in West Philadelphia, he could say he is going to bike for 15 minutes and I could say I was going to walk for 20 minutes and Common Space will map the area where we would be able to meet up and map local culture events and businesses in that field."

Partnering with tastemakers like UWISHUNU and Yelp, Common Space shows you the best spots in your transit area, allowing you the most sustainable way possible to hit your next favorite haunt. After their trial run, organizers hope to partner with citywide festivals and cultural events like LiveArts and Philly Beer Week.

"Sustainability was one of the values William Penn outlined, which is why they wanted to partner with us," Krueger-Braneky says. "Because the application does encourage walking, biking, and public transit, it's a way of showing what's going on in the city while encouraging alternative transit."

Source: Leanne Krueger-Braneky, SBN
Writer: John Steele

7 Ambler Articles | Page:
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