Do you or your family – or both – face difficult decisions about healthcare, such as Alzheimer’s?

Helping older adults and their families find solutions to often difficult caregiving decisions is the mission of startup Roobrik, which is one of five winners in the latest round of NC IDEA grants totaling $250,000.

In a Q&A, CEO Nate O’Keefe, a veteran entrepreneur, shares the Roobrik story.

WRAL TechWire is profiling each of the winners, letting executives tell their startup stories in their own words. Each was asked the same five questions:

  • Focus of the business
  • What sets it apart?
  • Who are the founders
  • How did they come up with their ideas
  • What’s the backstory behind the company name?

First, here’s what NC IDEA CEO Thom Ruhle had to say about why Roobrik, which is based in Durham, received a grant:

“Roobrik is solving a major pain point for consumers, critical care choices for people at the point in time they need it. Their competitive advantage is amplified by their location in the triangle surrounded by healthcare innovation. The team is composed of seasoned entrepreneurs designing solutions for problems they have experienced firsthand.”

WTW’s Q&A with Roobrik:

  • What is the primary focus of your company?

We are a B2B company that builds consumer-facing online tools to help older adults and their families make really hard decisions around getting older and caregiving; questions like “Is it Still Safe for Dad to Drive?”, “Is it Time for Mom to Get Help?”, “Is this Dementia?”, “Should We Consider a Clinical Trial.”

We partner with regional and national senior care providers and clinical research organizations that are committed to helping families find the options that work best.

  • What sets you apart from others in this space?

People dealing with getting older and caregiving are almost always highly uncertain about what to do next, and often worried or scared.

Our tools are very person-centered – we start with what somebody is feeling when they first notice a problem and help guide them down a path towards understanding what that means and what they can do about it. Informed and empowered patients and caregivers make better decisions about how to access all of the programs, products, and services that can help them.

  • Who are the founding members of your team?

Nate O’Keefe, co-founder and CEO. Nate previously co-founded the Durham-based mobile medical app company Modality, which was acquired by Epocrates in 2010.

Judy Conaway, co-founder. Judy is a management executive with more than 30 years experience in technology and manufacturing. She has also been a family caregiver for more than 17 years.

  • How did you come up with the idea for this venture?

[We] started Roobrik after separate, significant care experiences at opposite ends of the age spectrum. In 2011, Nate’s third child was born very prematurely, and Judy has been a family caregiver for her mother for more than 17 years. In the middle of these crises,

[We] were both struck by just how hard it is to become an informed online when you’re in a crisis. They felt that you shouldn’t have to an expert at online research to become an informed decision maker.  The Roobrik platform starts with what you know and how you feel about it, and guides you through a structured decision making process.

  • What is the basis for the name?

In education, a rubric (same pronunciation) is a set of guidelines and criteria used for evaluation of knowledge, often presented in a grid or matrix. Our early product designs presented our decision tools in a similar format, so Roobrik is a play on “rubric”
7. I’ve attached two versions of our logo (portrait and landscape), a personal photo, and two options for product screenshots if you’re interested.