Michael Walsh spent the first 5 years of his career with a firm called Protiviti, where his client work focused on health systems, outpatient clinics, and behavioral health programs. After moving to Dallas in 2011 to get Cariloop, a healthcare app, off the ground, Michael was part of the first class of the Health Wildcatters Accelerator program in 2013 and went on to be recognized by TeXchange (One to Watch semi-finalist), Dallas Business Journal (Who’s Who in Healthcare), and D Healthcare Daily (Innovation in Medical Technology semi-finalist) after graduation.
Michael is very passionate about the Dallas startup community and personal fitness. He is the Founder of Health 2.0 Dallas (which has grown to over 700 members since conception in 2013), the 2015 Health lead for Dallas Startup Week (which brought out several hundred healthcare entrepreneurs to 10 events over 5 days), and a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer. Michael enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Cariloop is a healthcare app that provides comprehensive services and tools that help families plan for and manage the care of aging loved ones. Using an innovative and transparent approach, they offer qualified healthcare coaches through a variety of channels and online case management tools for easy accessibility to a complete solution.
Who are your ideal clients?
On the enterprise side, we focus mostly on talking with HR and Executive Management in the banking, professional services, commercial real estate, energy, manufacturing, and municipality spaces. On the consumer side, we focus on working with men and women age 35-55 who are employed full time, have children, and have now found themselves in a caregiving role for an older loved one.
Is this your first business
What is the biggest reason for your success so far?
Definitely my team and our persistence! Over the last few years with getting Cariloop on the right track, there were numerous times where doors were slammed in our faces and the opportunity to give up was ever-present. Our team really stuck together in those tough moments and came up with the solution needed to keep us pushing forward.
What were the earliest indications that this business could be successful?
We were consistently receiving positive or constructive feedback from customers and prospective users. Families are completely unprepared for the caregiving duties that they become faced with when a parent or grandparent falls ill. If our services and tools can simplify that transition process and empower our user to face the caregiving challenges head on, we know we can be very successful in the marketplace.
What position did you hire first?
I hired my VP of Marketing and Consumer Relations, who actually started as one of our first customers. She has since been promoted to our Chief Service Officer.
What is working best for your marketing right now?
Speaking events and trade shows where we can effectively demonstrate how we transform this complicated process into something more manageable for families.
What is your biggest differentiator?
The accessibility and objectivity of our healthcare coaches really set us apart from some of the other options for consumers in the market. Also, we’re the first company of its kind to pair the service we offer with the web/mobile platform that users can access to collaborate with their healthcare coach as well as other family members.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
When to hire. It’s a tough juggling act when you can see how busy you’re going to be 3-6 months out while at the same time managing a bootstrapped budget. You want to make sure you hire slowly, clearly understand the job description that you are hiring for, and choose the right person for the job that fits with your company’s belief system, culture, and values.
If it was possible, what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Relationships are everything, don’t miss the chance to be there for a family member, friend, or colleague. These are the people that are going to be your biggest fans and evangelists as you build your company!
How did you meet your co-founders or business partners?
Keying in on that idea of maintaining good relationships, Steve and I have known each other since we played little league together in grade school. We’ve been great friends and teammates for a long time now, and I couldn’t imagine doing any of this without him.
Do you ever use coworking spaces?
We used space at Addison Treehouse for awhile in 2015 and it was great, I can definitely see the value of working in some of the spaces out there like Common Desk, the DEC, etc.
What book are you most likely to give as a gift?
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh – amazing book about building companies that focus on the happiness of their employees.
Favorite place to travel to?
Now that I am a native Texan, I love to spend time in my hometown of Chicago and visit friends there. If not Chicago, then probably somewhere beachy like St. John in the Caribbean.
What is the best small business in your neighborhood?
My wife and I have probably spent the most money lately at a new Mexican restaurant near us called El Bolero on Oak Lawn west of I-35. The service staff is always friendly and the food is amazing!
Do you have a favorite freelancer you have worked with?
We’ve got several members of our extended team that started as freelancers, so they’re all favorites! Most recently we’ve been working with Emily Holt on some small design projects and she’s done a great job.
What is your favorite app or online tool?
I probably spend the most time in Spotify, Etrade, Google Maps, Mint, and of course the social apps - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. I try to use Evernote consistently on my phone but tend to use that more on desktop.
What was the best event that you recently attended?
Dallas Startup Week events, and we really enjoyed the Dallas Business Journal Healthiest Employer event at the end of March.
How did you finance your business?
We’ve been very fortunate to have such great people involved with our growth. We’ve raised funds both from friends/family as well as Angels primarily based here in Dallas and Fort Worth.
What advice do you have for new founders?
Don’t ever be afraid of what people think or what they might say, just keep pushing forward. Be as open as you can to taking criticism, learning new things, and sharing your passion with the world.