@HIMSS Voalte: Vo(ice), Al(arms), Te(xts) on iPhone

By Brian Dolan
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VoalteStalking around the usual suspects at the HIMSS conference this week was a band of pink pants wearing entrepreneurs: The team from Sarasota-based start-up Voalte brought more than silly pants to Chicago though, they brought iPhones loaded with wireless VoIP, nurses' alarms and text messages, too. Vo- (voice) + al- (alarms) + te (texts), pronounced "volt" was founded by Trey Lauderdale, a former regional sales manager at Emergin Systems.

During an interview on-site at HIMSS, Lauderdale told the mobihealthnews team that while at Emergin he sensed his customers growing frustration with the tiny pool of wireless VoIP phones in the market: many of which look like bricks. Lauderdale said nurses and physicians' demand for a wireless VoIP solution on the iPhone reached a fever pitch so he set off on his own to give it to them.

"Finally, one day I decided to go to California and attend Apple's Worldwide Developer conference. Of course, since it was last minute, the conference was already sold out. I just kept thinking that I've got to do it. So I went on eBay to try to bid on tickets for the event and bid on a ticket until it hit $3000. I still didn't get it. Instead, I booked a hotel room across the street from the conference and stopped people as they were walking by if they had a WWD conference badge on. I asked them all the same two questions: A) Can you build this iPhone application? B) If not can you point me to someone who can?"

By the fourth night and after buying passersby about 200 beers -- allegedly -- Lauderdale met his future VP of Technology Ben King. The next day King pitched it to Apple and it took off from there.

Lauderdale said Voalte focuses solely on the iPhone right now because as a startup company, Voalte needs to stay focused. As Voalte's CEO Rob Campbell told him, one of the big reasons start-ups fail is they spread themselves too thin.

"We want to be the organization that allows these next generation smartphones to enter healthcare. That includes the iPhone, Google Android phones, BlackBerry, etc." Lauderdale siad. "We needed to pick the platform that was the best bang for our buck. Our team had experience and relationships with Apple, [because CEO Campbell used to work directly for Jobs years ago]."

"Even right now, these smartphones are finding their ways into hospitals," Lauderdale said. "Once they see they can get this app on their iPhones, who do you think is going to be knocking on our door?"