We recently chatted with the folks at North Texas Innovation, a publication that reports on startups and innovation here in Texas. Have a read!
By Kevin Cummings – NTX Inno Staff WriterJuly 24, 2021, 06:00am CDT
Tamera Jackson said there’s an old phrase that goes: If you meet one person on the autism spectrum, then you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum. While their care needs differ vastly, one constant is the need for consistency in their routines.
Her newly launched company ASD.ai is looking to help provide its app Rootines, which hit the iOS store last month. After amassing a few hundred downloads, the Red Oak-based startup is joining the Microsoft for Startups program, supporting ASD.ai as it looks to build out its platform.
“Whether there’s meltdowns or medication adjustments, tracking everyday life is so important to this community, but there’s so many doing it with literally a notebook, so it’s like how do you identify trends and, as humans, how do you not have your own emotions interfere with that from time to time,” Jackson, ADS.ai’s co-founder and CEO, said. “We’re using artificial intelligence and machine learning on the backend to take that information and provide insights.”
The Rootines app gives users, both people on the autism spectrum and their caregivers, to track different parts of their day, from moods and medication to sleep and hydration. That information can then be shared with others in the person’s care network and provide analytics, insights, and actionable suggestions to help improve that care.
Before launching ASD.ai, Jackson sold off her previous business, an auto dealership in Connecticut. After that, she began visiting with a friend’s son, who was on the spectrum, at a group home. It was there, witnessing the high turnover and lack of tech tools to help workers understand the right care for each person, that the idea for Rootines was born.
“I became really passionate about it because some things would happen that were not great for anybody and were highly avoidable,” Jackson said. “I knew enough about technology. I’m not a coder… but I know enough to be dangerous.”
Having previously seen the startup activity in North Texas, Jackson moved to Red Oak to launch the startup. But, like the repairs that needed to be made before she moved into her new home, ASD.ai’s launch didn’t go as planned. After listing Rootines app on the iOS store, Jackson and the four-person ASD.ai team realized a quirk in the system only made the app show up when someone searched for its specific name. Nearly 20 hours on the phone with Apple later, Rootines started to show up more, and the app has garnered a few hundred downloads.
“It was mind-numbing,” Jackson said. “Algorithm-wise, you have to be a mature app that people are downloading to get to the top of the list, but to not show up at all is discouraging. I had told my team, this is like one of those startup stories when I’m on ‘How I Built This,’ this is going to be one of the stories we tell.”
That’s when things started to turn around for ASD.ai. The company recently became a Capital Factory member, which allowed it to apply for Microsoft for Startups. It was accepted just days before the window for applications closed. In addition to mentorship and support, the move also landed ASD.ai $120,000 worth of products and services.
“It’s huge for a startup like us. People don’t realize. I didn’t realize… it’s expensive and to build something that looks good and functions well,” Jackson said. “It takes a lot of time, and it’s expensive.”
With that boost, ASD.ai has big plans on its roadmap. First up is the Rootine app’s release on the Android store, slated for late summer or early fall. In addition to adding new features to the app and including add-ons for passive data collection, Jackson said the company has been receiving interest from therapists and doctors’ offices and is in the process of building out its web portal for a more B2B focus. Jackson also said she sees ways for other businesses to use the app to hire more neurodiverse employees.
Bootstrapped so far, Jackson said the company is planning an upcoming funding round. However, she declined to say how much ASD.ai is looking to raise.
“We’re really focused on autism… having that narrow focus, and really getting one thing really right is what our goal is, “ Jackson said. “Once we can build this out as best we can and have the product mature, we may start looking at other areas, but right now, we’re really focused on providing the community with this tool because they’re so desperately in need of that.”
You can also read the article directly on their website here:
To read our press release announcing our acceptance into Micorsoft for Startups, click here: