It’s no secret that sometimes a company must pivot to really take off and become successful.
But sometimes, an individual can endure a life-changing pivot that could ultimately have an impact for generations to come.
After serving 25 years as a United States Navy Special Operations Officer, Jon Corkey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and took an earlier-than-planned retirement.
But prior to his retirement in September 2018, Corkey began a project that would eventually lead to Amissa. His Charlotte startup aims to improve the quality of life and safety for 6 million American Alzheimer’s patients.
Amissa means “lost” in Latin and “companion” in Hebrew.
Corkey and his team at Amissa are building mobile application solutions that ease caregiver burden. They want to empower them with technology to locate wandering loved ones, remotely monitor their health, predict Alzheimer’s behaviors and send alerts ahead of possible accidents.
But Corkey didn’t initially set out to help Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
How It All Started
Corkey began his journey by talking to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. As a father, he wanted to find a solution to help keep children safe.
These conversations led Corkey to the National Autism Association. Autism now affects 1 in 59 children and some children with autism are prone to wandering.
Corkey had extensive conversations with Wendy Fournier, President and Founding Board Member and Lori McIlwain, Co-Founder of the National Autism Association. McIlwain has a teenage son with autism and in 2007, she began advocating for federal resources that would reduce and eliminate injuries and deaths associated with autism-related wandering. In 2012, she assisted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in creating federal search and rescue guidelines for missing children with special needs.
“I started talking to families to find out what they needed to help protect their kids,” Corkey said.
What Corkey ultimately discovered is a need for a tracking device that was the right size that could not be easily removed or lost.
Corkey also learned that a need for a device of this nature exists for Alzheimer’s patients as well.
“The NIH has money for Alzheimer’s research,” Corkey said. “There’s a lot of funding opportunity for technology that helps quality of life.”
Amissa will create an app that can be used on an Apple Watch. The app will use predictive analytics and track a patient’s biometrics to help determine behaviors like wandering. The app will then alert caregivers in an effort to keep patients safe.
“We’re going to look at data and help improve care and quality of life,” Corkey said.
Amissa’s first minimum viable product is expected to be released within the next month.
“In this first version we’ll test our geo-fencing and tracking software, test notification alerts during times when Alzheimer’s patients wander away or when they experience a fall, and we’ll begin analyzing machine learning algorithms to predict behaviors,” Corkey said. “We’re currently looking for families in Charlotte with loved ones in the early stages of Alzheimer’s to volunteer as beta testers.”
Since moving to Charlotte last fall and launching Amissa, Corkey has grown his team. He recently brought Lisa Russell on board as Fractional CTO.
“I met Lisa at Pitch Breakfast a few months ago,” Corkey said.
Amissa’s team also includes two part-time interns from UNC Charlotte. Earlier this month, the company took up residency on campus in the PORTAL building.
After participating in VenturePrise in January and Charlotte Venture Challenge earlier this month, Amissa is poised for success. But Corkey is looking for more than financial success.
“It would be nice to have a sports car one day,” he said. “But it’s about having an impact on society and building something that can help change a family’s life and then use this data to help find a cure and improve the quality of life for patients and caregivers. It’s a win.”
If you are interested or know someone who is interested in becoming a beta tester for Amissa, please contact Jon Corkey at email@example.com.