Tony Safoian [00:00:02] All right, I seldom get excited for a Cloud N Clear like I’m excited today, not only because of – that this company does, but also the demographic and the market that it serves. It’s just so exciting – to tell you all about it. But before we go too far, of course, meet my very special guest. Scott Lien, who’s the co-founder and CEO of GrandPad. Welcome, Scott.
Scott Lien [00:00:33] Thanks for having me on, Tony.
Tony Safoian [00:00:35] You know, we’ve been working together for quite some time, and I’m so happy that we’re finally able to get together. And as we were preparing for this, I started to research and look at your website, check out the Play Store, really get an understanding of the market and the audience that you serve. And you and I talked the other day about what you’re doing, and I’m just so happy to share this story with the world because not too many organizations make it a mission to serve the sort of – over market specifically with a piece of technology. I mean, how remarkable is that?
Scott Lien [00:01:22] Yeah. It’s fun, that’s all I can say. I mean, and I feel like it’s the reason I was put on this earth to help this age group, what we lovingly call super seniors, those over the age of 75 or people with similar needs, you know. And I think if we all think about some of the really neat, interesting, truly wise people in our lives, chances are they’re some of the elderly people that we’ve known, whether that’s a grandma, or grandpa, or aunt, or uncle, or neighbor. And, you know, makes sense. The older we get, the more life lessons we accumulate. That true wisdom. And even though COVID has been extremely hard on this age group and affected them, and we know that in the US, out of the 600,000 people, approximately, that have died, over 400,000 of those have been seniors. So it’s had a huge impact on them.
Tony Safoian [00:02:21] Yeah.
Scott Lien [00:02:21] But they from an attitude and like, you know, life has its ups and downs. They’re just an amazing group of people and they’re fun to work with.
Tony Safoian [00:02:31] Yeah and, you know, solving the question of how do you stay connected with these – wise and have so much to give to our children, and to their grandchildren, and to the broader parts of their communities. And how do you stay connected? How do you make them feel like they’re part of this new paradigm, the way that we connect? Especially the way we were forced to connect through the last year and plus. I just can’t wait to talk about all of that. But before we get too far down the road, because the passion for the product is clear, it came out when we were prepping for this and my own passion definitely got ignited. I can talk about the – geek anyway, like I’m a gadget person so this is perfect right up my alley. But let’s talk about Scott Lien, the entrepreneur, the co-founder. You didn’t always do GrandPad. I’d just love to – story and to share that with the audience as well.
Scott Lien [00:03:31] Yeah, thank you. You know, Scott in a nutshell, I grew up on a farm in Iowa. And I think I learned about teamwork and hard work and dealing with ups and downs. You know, when you’re a farmer, you have to deal with the weather and, you know, you got to play the hand you’re dealt. And if you have a drought, you got to deal with that. If you have a flood, you got to deal with that. But went off college. Computer science, business, double major. I feel that’s important because I’ve always – one leg on each side of the fence. Deep technical experience, hard core software engineering, but then a business view. How can we use technology to improve people’s lives and create opportunities? And I do feel like everything I’ve done has prepared me for this. But it’s always been around leveraging new technologies. So recently I was CIO of Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the areas I was responsible for was mobile banking, and this was 15 years ago. And of course, it was just at the time when the iPhone was coming out. So we jumped on that, saw that as an opportunity. We were one of the first major banks that really leaned into that. And as a geek, fellow geek, one of my proud moments was Steve Jobs held up our Bank of America mobile banking app at a WWDC.
Tony Safoian [00:04:52] Wow.
Scott Lien [00:04:52] 13, 14 years ago and said, hey, mobile banking is on the iPhone. Which, you know, for us is so passé now. But at the time, you know, remember everybody was worried. Like security or, am I going to actually pay a bill and transfer money on my phone? Really? And that’s really where I fell in love with the possibilities of mobile. And what having a supercomputer in your pocket that’s always connected to this magical thing called – could do. And, you know, ridden that wave. And so next for me, I worked in Silicon Valley, I was the head of mobile innovation at Intuit, fantastic Silicon Valley company, Mint, TurboTax, Quicken, QuickBooks. And there I was really lucky to be exposed to The Lean Startup methodology, Erik Ries. Eric came and frequently spoke to us. Scott Cook, who was the founder of Intuit, really drove that customer-centricity, he was an originator of the Follow Me Home. Don’t drag customers into some fake usability lab. You need to see the animal in the wild. You need to see people struggling trying to do their taxes, the shoe box method, you know, with the small businesses. And see that scramble, you know, the night before taxes are due. Right? And that really stuck with me and was a wonderful experience. And it was during that time when my son and I started kind of percolating on this GrandPad idea, which I’m happy to share more about that. But it was those learnings, and then we launched the company seven and a half years ago.
Tony Safoian [00:06:34] Hey, you work with your son? I work with my father. He’s the chairman.
Scott Lien [00:06:39] Cool. It’s great. Maybe that’s -.
Tony Safoian [00:06:41] We’ve been doing this together.
Scott Lien [00:06:41] Yeah, that’s probably – I grew up on a farm with my mom, dad, brothers, family. Like, you got to learn how to get along as a family and everybody pitches in. And so, you know, because people always say like, could you work with your dad or your son? And, you know, it’s about teamwork and collaboration.
Tony Safoian [00:06:56] I feel so fortunate that I got to do this with my dad. I get to do with my dad. Because there’s a lot of – I know a few peers in the ecosystem that, you know, the father started something that like none of the children were interested in. And I was like, that’s kind of sad, you know. It’s not that, you know, I’m definitely like – SADA will be passed down to my children or anything like that. I don’t have those preconceived notions. It’s great – the timing works and the passion is there because it is tough, I’m sure. There’s moments where it’s like we just want to be family and we can’t stop thinking or talking about work. But it’s also, when it works, I think the best type of – .
Scott Lien [00:07:37] For sure.
Tony Safoian [00:07:37] So it’s awesome that we share that as well. So let’s talk about GrandPad. It’s a hardware device which is for this demographic that, again, we all feel has been left behind. And I feel like, look, a lot of the user base, the super seniors aside, have been, I think consumed by what mobile has become. Right? in this sort of confusing, distracting time-sucking way. And I think you told me when we were talking iPhones designed by 30 year old. And nobody really thinks about how to make it, you know, usable and attractive for super seniors. So like, what was the genesis of the idea? And what did the result – sort of user experience thesis, form factor thesis. Let’s talk about how you came together in those collection of ideas.
Scott Lien [00:08:49] Yeah, the genesis for the idea was my mom, who was 80 at the time. She was a brilliant lady, ran her own business, very busy, but she was frustrated by standard technology. Her laptop, her phone. And given that she was busy and she was very confident, she’s like, you know, why is this stuff so hard? My son and I would spend – we lived in California, she lived in Iowa. We would spend all of our Christmas, Thanksgiving, whenever we were visiting, we would spend a good chunk of the time fixing her tech, right? You know, back in the day defragging her hard drive, getting rid of all the viruses, hooking up her printer, trying to get her phone to work and programing contacts in it. And my mom also, like a half of this age group, suffered from significant hearing loss. And so talking on, well there was a landline back in the day, or a smartphone was really difficult for her. Just the quality of the audio wasn’t that good you know, eight years ago. So we would try to do Skype video calls. Well, again, as she aged and got frustrated technology, just Skype and getting that all working again. You know, video calling has gotten a lot easier in the last few years and especially with COVID they’ve simplified. But eight years ago it was hard. And so we started to see weeks would go by where we did not have a good conversation because the technology was a barrier. So it was really my son, he was a freshman in college, said – and he’s a product designer. He developed his first iPhone app when he was 13. It was iPhone app number 2,000 in the App Store. And so he had an eye for design and user-driven design. He said, Dad I think we can figure something out better for his grandma. So that was the genesis. I started looking at it from a business standpoint. I said, wow, there’s a big market here. I’m an idea guy. I have a spreadsheet of my two, 300 ideas. Most of them are dumb ideas and I’ll float them with friends – nobody’s going to buy that but it may be interesting to you. But this was one that universally everybody said, that’s a great idea. I’ll buy one for my mom or dad. You need to go do this. The world needs this. So that was positive encouragement. We then set up typical lean startup. Build, test, learn, build, test, learn. We said we’re going to create a prototype in 30 days of the basic features. We’re going to hack something together, kind of bandaids and baling wire. And that’s what we did. We put it in front of my neighbor, Hal and Bonnie Carlson, that were 90 at the time and they were right there close to us. Soon as we had a prototype, we took it over to them. We did a video call with their great grandchildren. We were in California, their grandchildren were in Texas, and they loved it. When it came time – And we had exactly one kind of prototype that was working, when it came time to pack up and go home. We were putting the – Pad version 1.0 in the bag, they said, no, no, no, you can’t take that, we want that. We’re going to call our grandchildren every day on this, look at photos and all that. So we knew we were onto something. And then we just quickly kept iterating from there. And now we’ve reached 1.2 million total people, seniors, their families, and caregivers in 120 countries in a little over seven years.
Tony Safoian [00:12:23] Let’s talk about the hardware. Again, I’m a hardware geek and I know you have a companion app and that’s how things get scaled out. Like of course, you know, I don’t know. Google Jamboard, you know, there’s a physical jamboard, but there’s a companion app, right? So you want to give that flexibility which makes a lot – But I was really fascinated by the hardware, let’s talk about the hardware, then we’ll get into the software. But I just – do you want to talk about your hardware partner?
Scott Lien [00:12:47] Yes, absolutely. So our hardware partner – and the evolution here is important. We started out trying to use off-the-shelf commodity parts, a standard Android tablet. And that was kind of version 1.0. But we saw a lot of gaps. We saw that there was additional capabilities that this age group would benefit from. And the first was wireless inductive charging. We believe we’re still the only tablet in the US right now that has wireless inductive charging. Most phones do now, that’s just finally come. But we have a wireless inductive charger, it uses the Qi charging standard. You simply put the GrandPad on the charger, and think about it. If I –
Tony Safoian [00:13:30] I can see it sort of clicked.
Scott Lien [00:13:31] It’s actually. Yeah, it just sits there very easy. They can kind of throw it in there.
Tony Safoian [00:13:36] Oh, it’s not even – OK. Yeah.
Scott Lien [00:13:37] There’s almost no way that you can screw it up. And it sits at the perfect angle. I think we’ve all done video calls with folks that you’re looking at their ear or side of their head. This sits on the table. It’s just a perfect angle, and hands-free. So we designed the hardware and even lots of little things. And this is the user-driven design. And I always say we didn’t actually design this. Our group of grand advisers, super seniors, that work for us, they designed it. We’re – that built it. So you know how a lot of cords will pull out? Like, ours doesn’t pull out. It’s a really long cord. It’s a two prong cord, not a three pronged cord. A lot of grandmas live in houses that don’t support three prong cords. Like all these little things that matter a lot. The packaging, which you can see on our website, we’ve got what we call senior-friendly packaging. I think we’ve all bought something at a store, you bring it home, it’s got that hard plastic clamshell package and you need a knife –
Tony Safoian [00:14:35] Many times trying to open those packages that are also like super wasteful. You’re like, what is?
Scott Lien [00:14:39] Yeah. And I used to work in retail. I used to work at Best Buy and Target years ago, and that was done for good intention. It was theft, loss prevention was what they called it. You know, they’d keep the bad guys from stealing stuff. Well, think about it. If you’re 80 or 90 and you have to use a knife, you said you’ve cut yourself. You cut your finger, if you’re on blood thinner, Warfarin, which many elderly people are. I mean, it could be a catastrophic issue. So we’ve got senior-friendly packaging. We don’t put those little ties and plastic on stuff. We can literally ship these, the average age of our customer – we can ship this to them, they can easily open it.
Tony Safoian [00:15:16] Take off the typical piece of hardware, too. It’s just like, oh my God.
Scott Lien [00:15:20] And it just ends up in the landfill, right?
Tony Safoian [00:15:21] Tape in this, tie on this thing. And this – is like unbelievable.
Scott Lien [00:15:27] Right? So we don’t do any of that. And then the hardware, it is an Android tablet deep down, but it’s a custom built hardware using lots of proven technologies. Like I talk about Qi charging standard, but Acer is our design partner for this. They’re a great partner of GrandPad. And so you can see that the user interface is very different. We call this a linear, scrollable interface. One of the things I’ll point out to you right away is music. And so let’s get to a good song here. Little John Denver, right? So.
Tony Safoian [00:16:10] I can even notice the color, the contrast color scheme. Like it’s high contrast, big buttons. Right?
Scott Lien [00:16:22] That’s exactly right.
Tony Safoian [00:16:22] Easy to navigate.
Scott Lien [00:16:22] Yeah, and front facing speakers that are super loud, there’s a sound channel. So that’s nice for music, it’s nice for games. But if I’m doing telehealth, we have video calling. If I’m doing a video call with my son or grandson or with my doctor – and there’s a picture of me and my mom, the video call is super loud, it’s on the front facing speakers, so. All of those things add up. Oh, and one other innovation we came up with, we found that this is – we did tests, you take a standard tablet and put it, in the box, at a senior say, please open this up, turn it on and send me an email. So far we’ve found 0% of people over the age of 90 that could successfully do that. One of the stumbles on these types of devices is just pushing the on off button. That’s a very fine motor skill. You have to hold it. It doesn’t give you a lot of feedback. So we invented auto on. You simply set it in the charger, it senses power, and then it turns on.
Tony Safoian [00:17:28] So cool, so cool. Do you have the instructions handy?
Scott Lien [00:17:33] You know, I’m sorry, Tony, I don’t. It’s on the website.
Tony Safoian [00:17:36] Okay. You showed me yesterday.
Scott Lien [00:17:37] Yeah, three parts, I should have. And it’s three things. It’s take it out of the box, set it on the charger, and open the flap, it automatically turns on. That’s the instructions.
Tony Safoian [00:17:49] So cool. Oh, my God it’s so easy. Just the number, like the hours – I mean it’s getting better, but the complexity of just setting up any new device, a device that’s sort of richly connected in data and it’s connected to the cloud and multi steps of authentication, and you know, two-step verification. Like, oh my gosh, three steps? The fact that you’ve gone to those great lengths to understand the user and really like the attention to detail to that experience, I guess what you learned at Intuit is really kind of demonstrated in how you’ve done that. But let’s also pause to sort of – that it is possible to build on Android, you know, because of how – community works, right? I mean, it’s just you don’t have to – back in the days, you know, remember the years, you’ve been around for technology, there was like – varieties of OSes that you had to think about. There was like, you know, all sorts of code bases, no ecosystem, hard to develop, hard to maintain. Now like, and we have other clients who are in the hardware, robotics, space, etc., like, Embodied Moxie, like they don’t have to start from scratch. You can actually start on Android and that’s thanks to Google. I think it’s a huge leap forward for hardware companies like yours.
Scott Lien [00:19:13] Right. Yeah, it is. The fact we were able to build on the genius of all those before us. So build on top of Android and build on top of all the APIs and cloud services available to us. And, you know, when you look at – a lot of people done analysis, right? Of startup companies, and 90 percent of startups fail in the first three years. There’s many factors why, but timing is one of the key reasons. I mean, is the market ready for your solution, and is the technology and capabilities there to support what you want to do? And you know, this one we got lucky on. – your own luck, but timing for us, seven and a half years ago was the perfect timing. Because of the cloud services that were now available through Google Cloud, we were able to build this and operate at a higher level. And, you know, when you’re a startup, you’ve got to use your resources very, very judiciously. You know, you can’t go buy, you know, a whole bunch of servers. You can’t go hire a bunch of system administrators and DBAs. You need to focus on solving the business problem, which we were able to do with the cloud services provider.
Tony Safoian [00:20:24] But you were very early on GCP in a lot of ways. And you were there, I would say, as sort of definitely the early – Where, you know, still the market mostly dominated by AWS back then, still the largest cloud, AWS is. But back then it was like almost the default choice. But you made the bold move to kind of get into GCP early. And so what are the areas that you feel like the platform has evolved to help do the kinds of things that you wanted to introduce as capabilities to GrandPad?
Scott Lien [00:21:01] Yeah, we definitely were early. And, you know, when we first started it was about eight years ago. And we saw the vision and strategy where GCP was headed, that we’re going to be able to operate at a higher level like almost a business function level. And that was very appealing to me because I shared with you, Tony, my prior lives like at Bank of America. And so I like, I had responsibility for running data centers like, you know, I had a data center catch on fire one time and dealing with HVAC and, you know, fire suppression, and all that stuff that you got to do when you run your facility. I said we just can’t take that on, we want to solve the end user, the business problem of serving seniors. So that was the impetus. And yeah, it was early days, but we believed in the vision and how we’ve seen it evolve is, you know, there’s things at like a technical level, just like expanding the capabilities of MySQL. Like MySQL version whatever it was eight years ago, you know, there were some limits there. But what’s happened is now it’s grown. And of course, Google has grown and created capabilities faster than we’ve grown. We’ve gotten super fast. But like six years ago, like they were just barely ahead of us. Five years ago they were ahead of us quite a bit. Now they’re well ahead and we’re not bumping up against any limits or capacities or issues. And what we love is SADA, Google comes to us and go, hey did you know we now have this new capability, click, click. And those things are available. And then other real features like, you know, me being the CEO and the product vision idea guy, I would go, oh man we have this idea, like, I’d like to do this. And one of them was we’d like to automatically categorize pictures. Somebody put pictures of their dogs and cats it could recognize those and sort them into here’s the pictures of the dogs and the cats. And I had that idea and my engineers, my chief architects, he’s like oh yeah Google’s got an API. That’s easy to do. And they literally could prototype it up. And because we’re in that ecosystem, some of those things were extraordinarily easy to do. And then the other one is eight years ago, just stability, scalability and availability. You know, there’d be a few wobbles. It’s, you know, knock wood. You know, we’re counting on you guys and Google to scale and provide that level of global availability.
Tony Safoian [00:23:34] Right.
Scott Lien [00:23:34] Because, again, we’re serving users in 120 countries. I don’t have to worry about which data center – that auto scaling auto caching around the world is essential. So there’s just so many benefits.
Tony Safoian [00:23:49] You’re supporting the cloud services that power the device and – And you have tons of users on the app all around the world, I think is one hundred twenty countries? Something like that?
Scott Lien [00:23:59] That’s right. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’re supporting the companion app and then everything that’s on the GrandPad tablet and everything is completely cached and stored in the cloud. So if grandma accidentally – GrandPad, they call us, we send a new one. Everything is cache synced to the cloud. She’s up and running. You know, I think we’ve all wanted to go buy a new smartphone. It’s supposed to be easy to transfer. It never seems to be that easy. You spend a whole day trying to move and get passwords set up. We don’t have any of that nonsense. And so the cloud is the the cache, the database, a record for everything.
Tony Safoian [00:24:37] Tell me about the model a little bit, because we talked about it and I thought it was really novel. I mean, they all come data connect because one of the reasons is like, yeah, you know you can’t control the local environment, the Wi-Fi, the speed of the Wi-Fi, all that. Like residential internet is troublesome to begin with if you do know what you’re doing, let alone, you know, if you’re living in some you know, wherever you live, right?
Scott Lien [00:25:01] That’s right. So we call it – software as a service. We call GrandPad GGAAS, get GrandPad as a service. So it’s the hardware, the software and the service that you need. The service includes all the apps, music, seven by twenty four customer – extra like, oh, you want to call us at night we’re going to charge extra. None of that. But a key piece is the 4G LTE cellular data is included, and there’s no measuring of gigabytes or megabytes, or you can only send 100 text messages. My mom, all she’d know is that would scare her and she would just not use it. She’d be like, I don’t want any overages. So ours is one flat monthly pricing. You can pay annually or you can pay monthly. And it’s completely a service, everything you need. Because, as you point out, it’s actually over 60 percent of this age group does not have access to any type of broadband internet. Either don’t have internet access in their home or the facility, or they don’t have the password, or it’s extraordinarily slow, you know, the Wi-Fi routers down in the basement and it doesn’t work up in mom’s bedroom. So what we found is by including the 4G LTE there, it simplifies their life it’s – for everybody. I mean, internet, the average internet now price across the US is $55 a month.
Tony Safoian [00:26:32] Yeah, if they have the GrandPad they don’t need another internet. They don’t even need another internet provider in most cases.
Scott Lien [00:26:39] That’s right. And then when they walk out the door, they’re going to church or the pharmacist or their doctor, they take GrandPad with just like their phone. So our price, we’ve got different pricing models, but our best value is $58 a month. So $58 a month it includes the hardware, the software, the data. I don’t know about you, but my cell phone bills more than $58 a month.
Tony Safoian [00:27:00] For sure.
Scott Lien [00:27:01] The biggest real differentiator with us is seven by twenty four customer care. They can press the help button on their GrandPad 24 hours a day and a friendly, for our customers in the US it’s all US based, and for our customers in UK and Ireland they’re going to speak to a local person there that has their accent, not our accent. And we answer the phone within seconds. A friendly person – we don’t have any of that press one for this, two for that. We don’t even own a VRU, we’ll never have one. How can I help? And we take care of their problem.
Tony Safoian [00:27:39] Amazing. And you know what, even as a very capable tech executive, you know, like I have LTE on my iPad when I travel because like, I don’t want to worry about it. Like – go. So even for advanced users, like just stopping and connecting. It’s just I mean, the adoption rate. The adoption rate – are off the chart from what it sounds like, because you’ve removed every barrier to adoption.
Scott Lien [00:28:09] Yeah, we do. And, you know, for all of us young people, our phone our laptop, it’s a tool that enables us to do our job or stay connected. But for these folks it’s their lifeline to the outside world, and so that connectivity always being there is essential.
Tony Safoian [00:28:28] How have you seen it – again I read some of the reviews and stuff, but especially through the pandemic – also again, we’re talking about millions of folks who feel relatively left behind. By technology and also by, I think, human connection. What have you – tell me about some of the – to help them not only feel more connected, but more engaged, more at peace, more content with their connection with the world?
Scott Lien [00:29:03] Yeah, I’ll highlight a couple some things that we’ve had for a while. I showed you briefly the music, but I’ll show you one that, again it’s such a simple thing. We always – our saying that hangs on the wall of our office from Leonardo da Vinci is, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” So seniors love to know their weather. So here’s Grandpa’s weather, but they want to see the weather of their family. So my daughter Angel, and let’s see. Who is this? My son Scott. So their weather local where they live, but then it also has the local time. So Scott lives in central daylight. Like, is it an OK time to call my son? He lives, gosh I don’t know the time. So that’s one. And that that makes people feel close to each other. Oh there’s a storm where my son lives. But I’ll highlight another one for you that we just rolled out and it’s called the Moods app. And so the Moods app is something, again, very simple, but there sadly is a ton of anxiety and depression with this age group. And COVID – that. So this is a calming, relaxing app that, you know, visualizations that people can use to bring calm and it might be might be the rain. Right? And so we just rolled this out a few weeks ago and we weren’t sure the – our seniors, our grand advisers that designed everything, they were very excited about this. But they were, they drive, we rolled it out, and it’s been a home run. Absolute home run of people calling us and going, I just used that for calming and meditation. And again, they didn’t have access to these tools. You know, we have our smartphones – find these things. We just made it accessible to them and in a way that was really easily digestible. One lady who called us said, you know, my heart was racing, my blood pressure is going through the roof. I used this just to calm and I feel at peace now. So we’re always looking for things like that that are going to help improve the quality of life for the seniors we serve.
Tony Safoian [00:31:31] Yeah and then because it’s a custom build that’s also updatable sort of over the air.
Scott Lien [00:31:37] It is.
Tony Safoian [00:31:39] It feels like a Tesla, by the way. It’s like the –
Scott Lien [00:31:42] I’ll admit I have – I’m on my second Model S. So, I get a lot of inspiration from Elon, yes.
Tony Safoian [00:31:49] It’s true. It’s LTE connected, gets better over time.
Scott Lien [00:31:53] Right.
Tony Safoian [00:31:53] You can’t mess it up.
Scott Lien [00:31:56] Everything –
Tony Safoian [00:31:58] Everything’s included.
Scott Lien [00:31:58] There’s not a bunch of options, and you don’t have to bolt on this or that, yeah. And I’ll tell you a funny story on that, Tony, that tells you how my brain works in the simplicity. So given that I’ve been driving Teslas for a long time, I was on a business trip to the East Coast, got out, I was late for this meeting, hopped out of my rental car that I’d gotten at LaGuardia or wherever I was. Went into my meeting, I was in there all day. I came back at the end of the day. I said, who’s the bozo that left their car running out here? Oh, crap, that was me. My car was almost out of gas. Luckily, no one had stolen it. But, you know, because my model is when you – walk away the car turns off and the doors lock, of course it would. Why wouldn’t it?
Tony Safoian [00:32:44] I’ve had a couple, I’ve had a couple. I got a Tesla very early. And I remember borrowing my dad’s car, same thing. I just say, oh you have to turn it off? Like, that’s weird.
Scott Lien [00:32:54] Right? Like why would you?
Tony Safoian [00:32:56] It knows you’re leaving, right? But no, my wife has a Model X now and it’s just like every time I get in there, I’m like I only – miss, and I miss the Tesla experience. And this is sort of like the Tesla version of a tablet for seniors. It update – it’s also locked down, right? Which you said, I mean, deliberately not having the Play Store, I mean, it’s just a blessing. And part of the reason you get these devices, similarly why I gave my kids chrome books for home or whatever, is I don’t want to be in the tech support business.
Scott Lien [00:33:31] Right.
Tony Safoian [00:33:31] Like it is, especially if you know somebody in your family knows your technical. Or under 60, you’re automatically like tech support. I don’t want to be tech support, so I can only – the number of calls that the family members don’t have to get. Or the visits you don’t have to make just to remind grandma how to log into something.
Scott Lien [00:33:55] That’s right, yeah. We call it the circle of trust. So everyone is connected with the senior who is invited in to the private circle of trust. But the bad guys aren’t invited. The scammers, spammers aren’t invited. So we put the senior at the center and we invite their family, friends and caregivers, doctors, nurses, could be, you know, their pastor. But those are the only people that are able to call, video call, or email. So we have zero spam. Zero.
Tony Safoian [00:34:24] So good.
Scott Lien [00:34:25] The only people that gets on that are on the safe list. When this thing rings, the seniors know it’s someone that I trust, someone I love is calling me. And sadly, and this is a really important point, sadly, pre COVID, scammers, spammers, fraudsters that we’re going after seniors was bad. With COVID, now it’s catastrophic. I mean, it’s extraordinarily bad because the seniors are more isolated, they’re more vulnerable, and they’re – lonely. So when the phone rings and there’s a nice person on the phone that’s very engaging and warm and then they use social engineering. Their out looking at Facebook going, oh yeah you know, I went to college with your daughter at UCLA. And oh yeah, we’re friends. And actually, your daughter asked me to call you. And then, you know, so the social engineering and next thing you know, they’re stealing money, they’re stealing their identity, they’re exploiting these people. And it is a serious, serious issue. And so that’s why we’ve created a walled garden. Seniors can increase their engagement with those they trust and keep the bad guys out.
Scott Lien [00:35:38] No, that’s a great point. It is remarkable, like the amount of targeting that’s done in this community. And it does come from – Facebook is a terrible destination where people are quite vulnerable, and even email. I mean, this sort of a circle trust concept is remarkable. I mean, it seems like you’ve thought of everything to make it safe, increase adoption. That’s really quite well thought out. – for a while now, so I expect some of those things came over time.
Scott Lien [00:36:15] Yeah.
Tony Safoian [00:36:15] Obviously, just core design principles. But now that you’re going international, I mean, the app has been international. 120 countries, but now the – global in other sort of English speaking countries. But what do you think – what’s the limit for – how big can this get? How big are your ambitions? What does the future hold for GrandPad?
Scott Lien [00:36:41] Yeah, well we’re on the path to make sure that every senior around the world is able to live, what we call, live grand. Live their best life and be connected, not be lonely and isolated. And so in the US, there’s over 32 million seniors who need our help right now. We’ve just reached a fraction of that. Worldwide it’s more than 300 million, and all their family around them. So we’re very focused on reaching all of those people and growing. You know, we’ll continue to add capabilities. But not too many, right?
Tony Safoian [00:37:18] Right.
Scott Lien [00:37:18] I think, sadly, some tech companies have taken the approach of let’s just keep adding features, adding features, adding features. Complicating things, right? You know, the smartphone I owned 10 years ago was frankly easier to use, and I think better, than the one I have now. Right? And so you don’t need to keep adding features. I think we should focus on creating a delightful customer experience and really understanding our customers’ needs and evolving with them. And that’s what we intend to do. Now one area, a big area of expansion for us over the last two years has been into the health care space. So our business is split almost 50 50 both in terms of subscribers and revenue, 50 percent direct to consumer B2C. And generally, it’s the 50 year old daughter buying for 80 year old mother. And that’s great, that’s where we started. That’s a growing and vibrant business. And we love that. And we market the – in the US, Ireland, and the U.K. and we’re looking at other select European and Asian countries now. Our B2B business is focused in the health care space. And there were health care payers, providers, senior care companies, integrate GrandPad into their business to improve the quality of life, reduce the total cost of health care for the seniors they serve. So as an example, we’re the preferred telehealth provider for the national – and PACE stands for program of all-inclusive care for the elderly. It’s a wonderful public-private partnership that’s focused on what are called dual eligible people. These are generally folks that are low income and have a lot of health care needs. These are people that would generally fall through the cracks otherwise and really suffer and struggle. But the PACE program, it’s all across the US, has integrated GrandPad, so they’re able to deliver care, remote care, virtual care, at a very cost-effective way. And actually increased their amount of engagement with their seniors, right? And so we’re honored to be part of that, and that’s been a huge area of expansion for us. So we’ve created additional capabilities there, things like the ability to record, with consent, record the video call that can then be put in the healthcare record. The ability to have what’s called real-time texting. So if the senior you’re doing a video call has hearing impairments, you can put the words right up on the screen. Doing it in multiple languages. We support now nine different languages – Hispanic community, the Chinese community. We have GrandPad in Albanian. And so we can support all those different segments of the population and do it in a way that’s really improves the health and self-confidence of the senior and lowers the health care costs. I mean, we’ve got limited resources and health care costs are going through the roof. So anything we can do to help, and that is where we’re focused.
Tony Safoian [00:40:21] We have a huge – health care providers, I’m just thinking about opportunity to make some introductions because I think – were accelerated. I mean, tell telehealth has been around for a long time, but it was seen as a fringe. You’re in the middle of nowhere in the jungle, you know, telehealth, right? No, it’s like actually it’s very – the way things are done, especially for seniors, it’s hard to always get to the doctor. You spend three hours of effort and commute and waiting to see the doctor for five or 10 minutes because people couldn’t see a doctor that were forced to these, usually consumer tools sprung up quite, quite rapidly in the beginning. People using anything. FaceTime, you know, whatever, right? To telehealth visits. But the point is, they liked it. They found it – worked 80 percent of the time, just as well as an in-person visit. So I could see that being a tremendous channel of growth and – those new habits aren’t going to go away. I think telehealth has been literally accelerated to – I could see this GrandPad product being a key part of the integration strategy into EMR and other systems, so you could do it at scale. That’s super interesting. And then, of course, yeah the consumer market. I think it’s a matter of all of us – I wish this device was here when my grandma was alive. I think we always struggled to connect with her, remotely. I think it’s just a tremendous product – to, again, a population that has not always being addressed. I mean it’s being addressed – because there’s so much revenue there. But really for everyone else technology, all the cool new – out the community that you’re serving. So I want to applaud you for that. Because it must feel great to – obviously, a business for profit, but it’s also mission-driven, like GrandPad has become.
Scott Lien [00:42:34] Yeah, it does. You know, one of my other sayings is, you know, do what you love and then you never have to work a day in your life. And that’s how we feel. That’s the spirit we try to create within our company. We’re over 200 employees. And I’ll give – our first interview question – about a super senior, someone over the age of 75, who’s been important in your life. If the person can’t think of anyone, it’s a pretty short interview. People we hire are the ones who go, you know, my grandma was my best friend when I was in high school, I was having some struggles and my grandma was there and she helped me through a tough time. And they’ll cry and so on. And, you know, those are the people that really have a passion for helping these awesome people.
Tony Safoian [00:43:21] Such a great cause. It’s such an honor to be able to help you in the little ways that we are with Google Cloud technology and through our partnership. And I wish you tons of success. We’re here for you every step of the way, we want to be part of the story. Nothing makes us happier than serving customers that are mission-driven and serving an amazing part of the population doing – I really thank you so much for being my guest and sharing the story, and now hopefully a bunch more people will know about GrandPad and – Look forward to working very closely with you for years to come, Scott. Thank you.
Scott Lien [00:43:55] Yeah thank you, Tony, for having me on and thank you for all you and your team do. You’ve been great – I would just close with whoever sees this, my ask of everyone is call or even better video call a super senior in your life, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, neighbor. It will mean the world to them. We’re all busy, but we all have time when we’re in the car, or walking through the airport, or out for a walk. It just takes a second even if it’s a short call. Just let them know you’re thinking about them. There’s, sadly, there’s a lot of seniors out there are very lonely. I just started calling my uncle that I hadn’t talked to in a long time. He’s 90. I can’t believe the difference it makes in his life.
Tony Safoian [00:44:36] That’s a great note to end on. I remember my grandma in her 80s. She just made her so happy to hear. So great reminder for all of us to be good brothers, and grandchildren, and children, and uncles, or whatever, like good nephews and nieces. Call a super senior. Great way to end the call on this recording as well. Thank you, Scott. Great to connect with you. Thanks for being a customer.
Scott Lien [00:45:03] Thank you, Tony.