Paula Muller, founder of SociAvi, had an amazing career even before launching her intergenerational tech connection company. With a post-doctoral degree from Rutgers, she developed a tactile device for the blind, analyzed EEGS to prevent epileptic seizures, worked with Parkinson’s patients using functional MRIs, and developed products and services that monitor patients remotely.
So why start her own business? Paula points to the maternal branch of her family tree by way of explanation.
“The life experience that prepared me for entrepreneurship was observing my grandmother and mother's own entrepreneurial journey. They were self-made business partners in several ventures. Their perseverance, persistence, and tenacity were qualities that made them successful and were passed along to me, giving me the support and encouragement to start my own business.”
With a passion for the intersection of technology and healthcare, Paula decided her business would help those near and dear to her heart, but far geographically.
“SociAvi was created from my professional background as well as my strong commitment to family relations and lifetime connections,” Paula said.
“My lightbulb moment was when my cousin in Brazil was asking her relatives in Chile to show pictures she was posting on Facebook to her grandmother. It was clear that access to Facebook was not an option for grandma,” recalled Paula. “I thought there must be a better way to share moments with our older adults who are not participating in social media or the technology advantages most of us are familiar with and take for granted.”
“Being a member of the ‘sandwich generation,’ it became clear to me that in our complex and diverse world, our aging and disabled loved ones are sometimes inadvertently isolated, either because families are scattered or because of the fast-paced lives we all live.”
And it’s not just about missing out on cute pictures. There are seriously negative consequences of social isolation for older adults.
“It was eye-opening to realize how uninformed we are as a society when it comes to caring for aging adults. I was truly aghast at the staggering number of older adults living in isolation with minimal social interaction. This isolation is linked to depression and other serious health issues.
“Further, the complexity and myriad components in the health care industry as a whole can be unfamiliar and extremely challenging to navigate for adult children who have become the caregivers for their aging loved ones. It is imperative that we, the adult children in the role of caregivers, be informed advocates for our loved ones.”
SociAvi aims to make that connection simple for both parties.
“Sociavi allows the adult child caregiver to have access to their loved one using the device they have and always carry, their personal smartphone,” explained Paula. “For the aging-in-place adult, it reminds them how much their family thinks and cares about them. For the caregiver, with just a tap of the phone, you’re there with your loved one.”
Paula’s connection to her family female founders is strong, and she is excited to connect with others through The F Project.
“I believe in empowering and supporting fellow female entrepreneurs. By joining forces, we can create a platform that collectively will allow us to get brand recognition and expand our exposure.”