The Telegram (St. John's)
APPS FOR SENIORS
MUN commerce student designing Peachy, software for seniors
Memorial University commerce student and aspiring entrepreneur Chrissy Rossiter founded Peachy, a company aimed at creating software for seniors that gives them more control over their own health and wellness.
There’s a lot made of Canada’s aging population and the potential challenges it will place on society in the decades to come, chief among them being the added cost of caring for seniors, who are living longer than ever before.
But what if there was some way to ease that particular burden on society while at the same time empowering senior citizens?
Thanks to Memorial University commerce student and aspiring entrepreneur Chrissy Rossiter, that product is already in development.
The 24-year-old from Calvert founded Peachy, a company aimed at creating software for seniors that gives them more control over their own health and wellness.
“As a 24-year-old, I can barely remember to take my vitamins three times a day, so I can’t imagine if you have 10 different types of medications that are really important or if you have vital signs to measure,” Rossiter said.
After Peachy software is installed on the device of the senior’s choice, they can log in to the subscription service and set up scheduled reminders for taking medication, checking blood pressure and other health maintenance activities that will come via text alerts on their mobile device.
“Right now the seniors I’m looking at … 17 per cent of them in Canada own cellphones and send text messages,” explains Rossiter, noting the software is going to be designed to be user friendly for seniors.
With Statistics Canada predicting that by 2031 nearly one in four Canadians will be 65 or older, the percentage of technology-savvy seniors is also likely to increase. As such, Rossiter knows there will always be a market for Peachy and in the long term she envisions Peachy one day including voice recognition technology like Amazon’s Alexa.
“As seniors get older, their ability to see things and use their hands decreases, so this would kind of remove that barrier and allow for all seniors to be able to use it, as long as they are able to.”
The software will do more than provide reminders — it also captures data on mood, symptoms and health issues, and makes it all available in real time on an online platform that is accessible to the user, their family or even their doctor.
“There’s a lot of really good information to help stabilize chronic illnesses, but to also help prevent any major complications
Rossiter says it’s the sort of technology that has the potential to inspire seniors to be more invested in their own health.
“It’ll certainly be on the seniors to own it and want to track this information and be aware of the different things they’re trying to maintain and be kind of excited about it.”
Two organizations based out of Memorial University have played integral roles in getting Rossiter to this point.
This year, she won the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship’s (MCE) Startup Cup, a competition supported and funded by the local business community with the goal of investing in student business ideas and fostering growth and connections in the entrepreneurial community. Among its many boons is a $10,000 prize that Rossiter will use to hire a software developer to build Peachy.
She’s also getting $4,500 in funding through an MCE and Office of the Vice-president (Research) pilot project that allows her to complete her fifth and final work term of the bachelor of commerce degree.
Rossiter is also part of the Genesis Centre’s Evolution Program for a second straight summer, and says it’s been a great benefit to making Peachy real.
“You’re learning how to validate or invalidate your business idea, you’re learning the business model canvas and you’re meeting a lot of other people that are at the same stages as you that you could talk with,” says Rossiter, who lauds the mentorship.
“They’re always willing to help when you need it, whether it be connecting you with people or giving you feedback on your idea.”
At this point, Peachy is still in its infancy and Rossiter is in the market for someone to partner with her on the idea, specifically someone or a group of people with a background in technology and software development to complement her business and marketing background.
In the meantime, Rossiter is busy making sure she is designing something for seniors by meeting with and interviewing them about their day-to-day struggles and routines as it pertains to health management.
“I don’t want to build anything based on my own assumptions, so I’m testing them through these interviews and validating the idea that I have by talking to them.”
Keen to improve on her idea, Rossiter is seeking to interview more seniors “with an independent spirit” between the ages of 70 and 90. Contact details are available online at peachylife.ca.