Overwhelmed! was the title of the September 2008 PointerWare blog post that described how we felt handling the incredible interest and media attention in our recently launched company, Softshell (later rebranded to PointerWare). Those early days were exciting ones as we realized all the positive interest meant we had hit a nerve with seniors and their supporters.
The past three years have brought successes, challenges and an even greater commitment to helping people who have difficulty using traditional computer systems get online. Given that January is a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future, we decided to sit down with PointerWare co-founder, Stephen Beath to get his thoughts on the PointerWare brand, the industry in general and what it’s been like to successfully get a business off the ground.
Q. You’ve touched a lot of lives with PointerWare. What story stands out the most in your mind?
Stephen Beath My favorite story has to be a user in a nursing home who was using our system right when we first launched. The user had apparently experienced a stroke the night before, but staff didn’t detect it in the morning. However, when that user sent their family a voice mail through PointerWare, the family could immediately tell that something had happened and they called the nursing staff to inform them.
Q. How has the ‘seniors computing’ space changed since you first developed PointerWare?
S.B. Not as much as you might think – lots of companies trying to figure out what works with not a lot of clear success stories. However the potential market is too large to ignore. Tablets such as the iPad have
a lot of hype, but we have yet to see large scale adoption by older seniors.
Q. What’s been the biggest surprise in this entrepreneurial journey?
S.B. For me the biggest surprise was the sheer amount of things that need to be done to start a company. I knew entrepreneurship was a lot of work, but I didn’t realize one’s to-do list would be 100-200 items
long but most things you don’t have the time or resources to take on. So it becomes a game of betting on which tasks are important and which can wait.
Q. If you had one thing to say to PointerWare supporters, what would it be?
S.B. I would thank them for taking the effort to connect their loved ones to the wired world. Us younger generations benefit so much from technology it really is an injustice when certain portions of society
are left behind. Fortunately, I believe we are on the cusp of having technology intuitive enough so that everyone can get online and benefit from it.