Q&A with Tavis Schriefer of teleCalm | Innovators



This week we are talking with Tavis Schriefer, President and CEO of teleCalm, Inc.

Tavis got involved in elder fraud issues after his mother was repeatedly the target of scammers and telemarketers, trying to drain her bank account. A serial entrepreneur, Tavis founded teleCalm in 2015 to solve these and other phone-related issues with the mission to help seniors safely stay connected with friends and family, while prolonging their independence.

What is teleCalm and how does it help families with aging parents?

teleCalm is the safest and easiest phone service for seniors, especially those with memory challenges, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

teleCalm is a VoIP home phone service that instantly stops all incoming calls from scammers and telemarketers.

Designed with families in mind, teleCalm empowers the family caregiver with tools to ensure their loved one’s welfare while allowing that loved one to retain independence. These tools allow the caregiver to remotely protect their loved one from scammers and telemarketers as well as other tools to help monitor their loved one's welfare.

The teleCalm adapter is about the size of a deck of playing cards and installs in minutes, just plug in your family member’s home phone and their existing Internet connection.

The teleCalm Caregiver App provides tools to the family caregiver, including:

  • Protect your loved-one from unwanted calls, blocking all scammers and telemarketers. Calls from friends and family ring straight through, while strangers are routed to the app’s voicemail.

  • Optionally filter outgoing calls, helping prevent calls to as-seen-on-TV and other problematic numbers.

  • Review the history of all calls and important event status.

  • Listen to voicemails left for your loved one from the app.

  • Set custom quiet hours to curb late night calling.

  • Receive real-time alerts as a text to your smartphone, including 911 calls.

  • Monitor repeated and missed calls made by your loved one.

  • Remotely manage all features from your smartphone.

  • As the caregiver, use all this information to keep informed on the welfare of your loved one.

We help seniors safely stay connected with friends and family longer.

What inspired teleCalm’s development? What do you think its potential market is?

My wife and I were able to be my mother’s primary caregiver for five years. During that time, she displayed signs of early dementia. She was constantly harassed by scammers and telemarketers over the phone, which for her was a very frustrating experience. She also spent money she couldn’t spare on late-night shopping and donating to compassionate pleas on her TV. She also began having confusion with her phone’s features and functionality and would confuse it with her TV remote control.

I soon learned that these were common issues with dementia. There are over 5.5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and this is increasing by nearly 1300 people per day. This is a $2.5 Billion market annually, as 80% of these seniors continue to use their phones.

teleCalm is a part of Tech Wildcatters and participated in 2016 Pitch Day. How was that experience? What advice would you give to others based on this experience?

Tech Wildcatters provides a structure and focus to help get your business up and running faster. They provide a wide selection of mentors and advisors that provide you expertise without spending your scarce money.

Being surrounded by other startups in similar stages of their business helps you get input on issues/problems that they can specifically relate to.

Does teleCalm have anything new on the horizon?

Since our launch in December, we are continually adding new features to the service based on our roadmap and great feedback from customers. Right now, we are using Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, while we work to expand our offering into cellular and Internet of Things (IoT) interfaces.

What piece of advice would you give to a first-time entrepreneur starting out?

Many first-time entrepreneurs try to do it all themselves, and not get help from experts and investors. That was definitely a lesson learned from my first startup. This time around I actively sought mentors and advisors that could help me prevent mistakes early on and accelerate my growth.

What’s your “one thing” that most drives your professional success?

Never being satisfied with where I am, always thinking I can improve on the status quo.

See more coverage on teleCalm from CBS 11 News.

For Conversations with other thought leaders and innovators in the technology industry, see innovator Kaiwei Tang of Light Phone and innovator Joyce Reitman of Motionloft .

For more information about related legal issues, read our Professional Services industry page.  


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