By Abigail Bassett, Sunstone Staff Writer
David Hojah wanted to help the world.
David has watched loved ones, friends, and family suffer from neurodegenerative diseases and severe accidents that left them with fewer ways to communicate and interact with the world. Acting as a solo founder, David decided to apply his technological know-how and create Parrots, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide assistance – help communicating and help dealing with the disease.
“As a technical founder, a technical person who’s passionate about technology and building something good for the world, that just triggered everything and made me want to help all these people with neurological disorders,” he said.
While the idea took hold in 2017, it took David until 2020 to get Parrots off the ground. He says that the name also comes from his experience as a child.
“My family had a parrot, and it was so smart. It could mimic everyone in the house,” David said. “I can build a companion (for those who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases) called Parrots, and then it can be the one mimicking their voice or restoring their voice, and it can give independence and companionship and assistance for the caregivers as well.”
David’s first product is called Polly. Polly is an AI platform that provides real-time voice, cognitive assistant, and telecare solutions.
“For patients who cannot speak verbally, our system helped them to speak in real time, and it’s getting better over time,” he said. “If they have cognitive challenges, our system helps them to complete their daily activities and supports them with recommendations. It also tracks their behaviors, health, and the progression of the disease over time.”
The software works on any device, David noted. It’s highly intuitive to use for caregivers as well as those suffering from neurological disorders. The system can be used by those with limited mobility through touch, with a mouse, a stylus, a head mouse, and more.
David said Polly also helps healthcare providers, especially caregivers, to manage multiple patients by giving them an accessible, affordable solution to enhance the quality of neurological care.
“Our focus is mainly the time between one visit with a patient-provider and the next visit,” David said. “There’s a lot of data that might be missing, and it could be very essential for the healthcare provider to know something happened in that timeframe. We provide valuable data for healthcare providers, especially about what happened between visits.”
David has built a parrot-like hardware device that patients can attach to their beds or wheelchairs to help them communicate and interact with the world. The hardware uses a 360-degree camera and sensors to help assess what’s happening with the patient and their environment. The hardware parrot is $1,000 for patients, and the software platform costs $50 per patient per month.
Parrots participated in the recent cohort of the Lair East Labs Accelerator, where Sunstone Management is the capital partner. “It was awesome,” David said, noting that Parrots benefited from having specialized mentors who offered shortcuts, insights, support, and even investment as Parrots grows.
David said his company currently has around 200 users who suffer from various neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis, across the U.S. The company is planning to expand to Europe in the next year and has plans to work with patients with Alzheimer’s next.
David said he has several advisors to support his vision for a more accessible future for those with neurological disorders. The company employs eight people and aims to grow to 15 by next year.
“I want to transform neurological care,” David said. “Let’s bring joy, bring happiness, bring independence for all these people.”
Note: We refer to early-stage technology entrepreneurs as Founders. The information provided here is to inform about the types of small business start-ups that have been selected for participation in certain programs in which Sunstone participates. The information provided here is aspirational and there is no assurance of success. Early-stage investing comes with an inherently high degree of risk, including the loss of some or all of an investment. The information provided is neither an offer to sell or an inducement to offer to buy interests in any Sunstone sponsored fund that may have invested in the Founder.
About Lair East Labs
Lair East Labs is a startup accelerator based in New York that empowers founders to expand internationally. In the first five years of operation, our portfolio companies have raised over $45 million in funding after completing the accelerator. Our program combines the best of two worlds – learn from alumni founders of top Silicon Valley-style accelerators and gain access to a network of mentors and investors with extensive experience navigating the U.S. and Asian markets. In 2019, Lair East Labs was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Accelerators Worldwide” by Crunchbase. www.laireastlabs.com.
About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors. The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.
Connect with Sunstone Management at: