Hi, I’m Tania, Tellus Co-Founder and CEO, partner to Kevin Hsu, Co-Founder and CTO. He and I are two people who are deeply motivated by our personal experiences helping our families with important healthcare decisions, specifically eldercare. A few things bound our friendship from the start like the fact that we were focused on applying our technology backgrounds to changing healthcare. What we didn’t know when we first met was that we were actually setting out to change a subsection of healthcare: care.
We had similar first experiences with the care industry, namely being the tech support to our families when our grandparents started to decline. “What product should I buy?” “How should I set it up?” Like many American (and global) families, my family was not in an immediate financial position to bump up my grandmother’s care, and my grandmother adamantly wanted to age in place. Many families go through this and there is such a big opportunity for technology to help. What prompted the decision to buy technology was that she fell. One fall, became two, became three.
They were sparse enough, but concerning still. We had issues with the technology available to us. She did not like the wearable I researched...my research overlooked the fact that she found the wearable demeaning, not only that, we could never find where she placed it. The wearable made her feel old and she went as far to tell me it was a prisoner’s necklace. Cameras were not an available option at the time, but they wouldn’t be a consideration today for the same reason as a wearable - it strips you of dignity (*I want to note here, I think cameras can be useful for severe cognitive decline like dementia or Alzheimer's*).
My big takeaway: technology should be empowering, and in eldercare special thought has to go into how technology makes not just a family, but the elder, feel. Cameras are invasive, wearables are great in theory if worn 24/7…but by being physically worn on the body, while being specific to eldercare, they can be similarly demeaning. Being passive is incredibly important.
One day Kevin and I were sharing our experiences helping our families, and quickly came to the thought - let’s build something better. I was so excited about our quest that I couldn’t sleep that night.
We defined better in a few ways - no wearable, no camera, and actionable health information- not just alerts. We landed on Tellus and the rest is history.
We’re now a global team, selling Tellus to eldercare facilities in Japan, with a plan to commercialize our technology for a broader global market in the near future. In fact, this past year we partnered with the AARP Innovation Lab, and received an investment from the AARP, along with incredible investors including UTEC, Phil Libin & All Turtles, NTT Docomo Ventures, EEI and Digital Garage who all believe in our vision to improve eldercare with technology.