Graham Kilmer

Health Care Safety Company Wins Summerfest Pitch Competition

St. Louis-based Kwema produces a panic-button badge reel for health care workers.

By - Jul 1st, 2022 02:39 pm
Ali Jabry. Photo taken June 30, 2022 by Graham Kilmer.

Ali Jabry. Photo taken June 30, 2022 by Graham Kilmer.

The winner of the fifth annual Summerfest Pitch Competition is a St. Louis-based company called Kwema Inc.

Kwema produces a smart badge reel for health care workers that has a hidden button, kind of like a panic button, that alerts security if a health care worker is being threatened with violence or being assaulted. Kwema is Swahili for “all good” co-founder Ali Jabry told Urban Milwaukee.

For first place at the competition, Kwema takes home a $25,000 prize. Jabry said, “For me, the best way I can spend $25,000 is by doing a team building exercise, because we’ve all worked our butts off to get here. It’s been three and a half years of brutal work, like, very hard.”

The pitch competition this year was sponsored by Molson Coors and hosted by Young Enterprising Society, a local startup accelerator run by Que and Khalif El-Amin.

Seven start ups were selected to compete in the pitch competition. Second place, and $10,000, went to Fly Parrots, which produced a Artificial Intelligence platform that assists those with neurological disabilities with their field of vision and communication. Third place, and $5,000, went to Rex Academy, which created a browser-based computer science curriculum for students.

The remaining four teams each went home with $1,000 out of the $50,000 pot. They included Huupe, Light Pong, Circled In and eCourt Reporters.

Jabry told Urban Milwaukee that he heard about the Summerfest event through the newsletter for Madison-based startup accelerator gener8tor, “and then I saw what Summerfest was, so I was like ‘oh this sounds like a great time’.”

Jabry said there is a huge market for Kwema’s product, as workplace violence is a major issue for the health care industry. In the past, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reported that the majority of workplace assaults happen to health care workers.

Kwema’s badge reel allows health care workers to alert security without anyone knowing they are calling for help, Jabry said. The product will be very easy to scale up across health care systems, he said, because health care workers already go to work everyday with a badge.

Jabry said there is a health care system in Milwaukee interested in the product, though he couldn’t say which one.

Jabry said health care systems around the country have been “knocking on our doors asking for quotes, saying like, ‘hey, we want this yesterday’.”

His team has been working incredibly hard, he said. That’s why the first thig that popped into his mind for the $25,000 prize was team building.

“My team has been working in hyperdrive,” he said. “I’m not ruthless, but my team is.”

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Categories: Business, Festivals, Health

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