Q&A With Duluth’s Biggest Startup: GeaCom

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Hardware meets software in Duluth where founder and CEO Mat Johnson leads GeaCom — makers of Phrazer and Kitsune.

After an immersive stretch of R&D, Johnson came up for air to share the latest around the biggest tech startup in the area:

What is GeaCom’s value proposition?

We’re pioneering a method in healthcare which personalizes the patient’s experience and solutions for providers that improve performance.

There’s a lot of waiting in healthcare, staging, and limited access to resources.  Consider that the majority of the time a patient is within their healthcare system, they are alone. So we give patients an extremely personalized guide using Phrazer Spirit and new Kitsune headset products.

When a patient comes into a care environment – no matter their age, language, literacy, or culture – we provide them with continual progress and assistance on their care. Everything from registration to protocols, consent and so-forth.

The device also sends pure information to the staff which helps them maximize their limited resources.  This eliminates a lot of charting and focuses on actionable information so they can be more effective.

Phrazer has been your flagship product since 2015; what is the new product Kitsune about?

The latest Phrazer release “Spirit” is a significant upgrade from the original. The entire system is medical grade and uses a custom quad core stack from partner Qualcomm.

What we have commercialized and released this month is the Kitsune v2 — a very personal and private audio experience delivered via wearable technology, headset, that interfaces with Phrazer.  This allows staff and patients to work together 1:1 or in a group mode whereby noises nearby – such as a whisper – are amplified and background sounds are suppressed.

Do you have a patent portfolio around these products?

We have a significant patent portfolio. The cornerstone is our multi-path real time messaging – which brings tremendous process improvements and opened up pathways for better reimbursement.

Who is the target customers?

We target the medical market space. They are intrinsically safe products that operate seamlessly with the EHR. Large enterprises can benefit, even dentists or optometrists. We are also entering the K-12 market for students who need assistance with communications and reading and parent-teacher dynamics.

Who are your customers?

The Mayo Clinic, HCMC, and Health Partners are some local examples, though there are many across the US and in Canada.

How many overall customers do you have?

We have seven large enterprise customers…though we operate largely through intermediary channels to reach dozens of smaller health providers.

What is happening in Canada right now?

We’ve gone international as GeaCom has opened an office in Vancouver, BC. where the device is being used to address some very challenging situations around languages across four provinces.

How many employees does GeaCom have?

We have about 15-20 full time here and up to 100 who we contract with from sales to software development.

You are the sole founder and CEO – who owns GeaCom?

Myself and 100% private investors with oversight from the executive management and board of directors.

Who is on the board of directors?

I am the chairman; Bruce Lehrman – the founder of Involta; Debbie Cervenka, formerly with Phillips Plastics.

About how much investment capital has Geocom received?

In the range of $12 million.

Is GeaCom currently profitable?

No comment.

What is the status of the lawsuit filed against GeaCom?

It’s not unusual to have a situation where a supplier/shareholder may not appreciate what a company is doing and want’s to make public claims around that. Many of those were dismissed early and the vast majority have evaporated. What remains of the lawsuit is progressing and I don’t believe that we’re guilty or liable.

What’s next for GeaCom?

Our commitment to the marketplace and continual improvement of our products that provide a better healthcare experience. Further commercial success; we’re becoming a stronger and better supplier with plans to produce over 50,000 units next year.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Duluth is a difficult place to build a company like ours but we’re proud to be here.

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