WISE Cities is a platform designed to address social isolation among seniors.
DC: What is your name, major, minor, and graduation year?
Brodsky: Marie Brodsky, Mathematics major, STEM Ethics and Policy and Computer Science double minor, spring 2024 graduation year.
DC: Which Dingman Center programs have you been involved with?
Brodsky: Dingman Fridays Advising and the 2022 Pitch Dingman Competition.
DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Brodsky: WISE Cities designs accessible technology to address social isolation among the elderly. Our first mobile app allows senior citizens to form local groups, and gives community centers and local businesses the opportunity to connect with this hard-to-reach audience.
DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Brodsky: Our most important decisions are inspired by the individuals for whom we’re solving this problem – seniors in our own lives. We are also moved by what we hear from city representatives and community organizations trying to connect with the senior population. Finally, we are grateful for a trusted set of advisors who we can turn to when we feel unsure in our next steps.
DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Brodsky: Last spring, we were fortunate to have been offered a year-long pilot project with the City of Fairfax. Now, while continuing the pilot, we are deeply involved with our target market, both on administrative and personal levels, and both in our local communities and in national networks. We’ve received a lot of support for intergenerational thinking, and have been welcomed by organizations which serve seniors and wish for better ways to engage them through technology. In parallel, we’ve made significant steps in implementing our app as well as revamped our website at wisecities.us!
DC: What’s the most important thing you are working on right now and how are you making it happen?
Brodsky: In an effort to make the biggest difference, we are making it incredibly high priority to precisely understand the gaps in the current system that seniors find themselves in. That is, we are gaining input through avenues such as focus groups, interviews with seniors and families, and meetings with city officials ranging from those working in economic development to those leading committees in the health department. As our network and knowledge expands and we become further integrated into this community, we are able to design a solution that can be most helpful for a group that is often overlooked!
DC: As a young business owner, what motivates you?
Brodsky: Being able to meaningfully contribute to addressing a very real issue is so motivating. Personally, I was inspired to start this project when my grandfather was living with me and I observed daily how little social interaction he got and how difficult it was for him to use all these apps covered in buttons and unnecessary features. Also, working in an enthusiastic team keeps us all going with this! It’s exciting to be in control of a new idea that could grow into something useful for many people.
DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Brodsky: Make sure to reach out to people who you can learn from! Creating a startup is really hard, and many problems are ones that you can’t predict in advance, but if you have people you can rely on for advice, you’re much more likely to make it work 🙂
To learn more about WISE Cities, please visit the website here.