Entrepreneur of the Week: Peter Havas, PillDrill
PillDrill, Inc. is a health & wellness company whose first product is the PillDrill, a smart medication tracking system that allows for user-friendly medication management. The company was also one of ten caregiving health tech finalists that competed in AARP’s Innovation@50+ LivePitch event in Mountain View, CA in April. (See our wrap of the event). The Longevity Network is delighted to be featuring one of these finalists per week in our Entrepreneur of the Week segment.
We spoke to founder and CEO, Peter Havas, about PillDrill and the opportunity he sees in the 50+ market.
Longevity Network: What does your company do?
Peter Havas: PillDrill, Inc. develops simple and clever technology products to improve everyday health. The company’s first product, PillDrill, is a smart medication tracking system that intelligently modernizes the pill taking experience. PillDrill is easy to use, adapts seamlessly to any medication routine, and works whether a person manages their own or a loved one’s pill regimen.
LN: Can you tell us about your product and how it works?
PH: PillDrill is a smart medication tracking system that simplifies the task of everyday pill taking. It gives reminders when medication needs to be taken, effortlessly tracks what you’re taking and how you’re feeling, and sends real-time adherence and mood updates to loved ones throughout the day.
PillDrill uses the simple act of scanning to improve adherence and provide peace of mind for the whole family. The heart of the system is the PillDrill Hub, a compact device that sits next to your medication at home and issues clear audio-visual alerts when doses are due. To indicate that a dose has been taken, simply wave your medication container in front of the Hub. Depending on whether or not a scan has occurred, the Hub triggers real-time adherence updates (via SMS or the PillDrill app) to family members and other interested parties. This quick, familiar gesture – a scan – is both easy and powerful, resulting in improved adherence for the user and peace of mind for the loved ones who support them. PillDrill is easy to use, adapts seamlessly to any medication regimen, and works for individuals as well as families. And best of all for an aging demographic, a smartphone is not required to use PillDrill.
LN: What opportunity did you see that you wanted to address with the creation of your product?
PH: PillDrill addresses one of the biggest challenges in healthcare today: poor medication adherence. In the U.S. alone, non-adherence causes 10% of all hospital admissions, 40% of treatment failures, and 125,000 deaths annually. Nearly 3 in 5 American adults take prescription drugs, and medication adherence can be especially problematic in family care situations where one family member is caring for another, and interpersonal conflicts develop.
LN: Who are your primary users? How will your product benefit the 50+ population?
PH: PillDrill’s primary users are the elderly and those who require assistance from a caregiver. PillDrill aims to keep the 50+ population healthy and independent by helping them adhere to their complicated medication regimen. Unlike other medication adherence solutions on the market, PillDrill was designed to be completely human-friendly. What’s special about PillDrill is that it blends right into the person’s existing routine: a light overlay that provides all the benefits of a technology product without any of the hassles.
LN: How did you assemble your team?
PH: I first identified key areas of function, and then found the best people to fill those key areas. Referrals from a trusted source was a huge factor in my decision-making process when selecting team members. With the exception of one team member that I had worked with previously, everyone else on the PillDrill team currently was referred to me by a trusted source.
LN: How has what happened with your company differed from what you envisioned would happen?
PH: The things that I thought would be most challenging really didn’t turn out to be. That’s because we spent a lot of time thinking about our target audience and the problem we were trying to solve. That approach paid dividends and made other activities, such as fundraising a lot easier. There’s a quote from Abraham Lincoln that sums this experience up — “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
LN: What do you wish you had known before developing your product?
PH: Fortunately, there were no huge surprises. We were able to adapt to everything that came up. We kept our team small and our product conceptually flexible. We were able to learn the right things at the right time, and respond appropriately.
LN: What most excites you about the aging/health technology market?
PH: On the purely business side, the elderly market is large and it is continuing to grow. Everyday, 10,000 people turn 65 years old.
On the more philosophical side, I’m cognizant of my own age and that I’m not a million miles away from becoming a senior. I’m excited by the possibility of health technology helping me remain active, connected and vibrant.
On an even more personal note, I was inspired to create PillDrill because of my aging parents on the other side of the world. PillDrill has allowed me to stay connected with my parents despite their geographical distance. Recently, my mother has had small health issues, and I’ve completely relied on PillDrill and its mood cube to tell me how she’s doing in real-time.
LN: What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the aging / tech market?
PH: Seniors want to be cool too, so don’t design with an “old person” aesthetic in mind. Design for function and let form follow because everyone wants to feel good about themselves.
LN: Where do you see your company five years from now?
PH: Five years from now, I see PillDrill as an important player in the connected health space.
LN: What health or wellness technology do you hope exists by the time you retire?
I hope that personalized medication – drugs designed for the genetics and physiology of specific individuals – will be the standard.
LN: What’s the most valuable thing you learned from participating in LivePitch?
PH: It’s really challenging to tell a great story in three minutes. The experience with LivePitch helped me hone how I tell PillDrill’s story. Because current day attention spans are limited, it’s important to be able to articulate the story of our product, company and mission in a concise way. LivePitch greatly assisted that process.
About the Author
Peter is the Founder and CEO of PillDrill. He previously co-founded SandwichDirect.com, which brought gourmet sandwiches to the Internet and was later acquired by the West Coast’s iconic Specialty’s Café & Bakery. Peter was Specialty’s CTO for a decade.