"If you have a million dollars in funding, it will last you a year in Silicon Valley, but it would last you three years in Louisville." — David Galownia, Slingshot Founder and CEO
June 2, 2020
Slingshot CEO and Founder David Galownia
Slingshot has been building custom software since 2005, when CEO and president David Galownia, a University of Louisville graduate, began the company. It’s been successful, but Galownia is not one to sit on his laurels. This year he has two new startups under development. Louisville Future touched base with him to learn more about his business.
Can you give us an overview of what Slingshot does?
Galownia: We design and build mobile apps for small and medium-sized businesses. We’ve done work for the healthcare industry, Churchill Downs, and Louisville Metro Government, to name a few.
What kind of projects specifically?
Galownia: For the last three years, we've worked with PetFirst [pet insurance company], building a mobile app for policy holders and also helped PetFirst integrate their systems with MetLife when they were purchased.
We were approached by the University of Louisville when they wanted a way to teach ethical leadership that would allow leaders to work on their skills in a practical way. We created a mobile app that offers exercises and uses gamification to help the user strengthen their expertise in leadership areas, such as conflict management.
We are helping the state of Illinois to build a telehealth platform that will connect child family services workers and investigators with child abuse pediatricians (a specialty in which a doctor can determine if a child has been injured and whether it was an accident or intentional). The platform was designed to connect those people so they can make better decisions about children in their care.
The company has also done pro bono work, including designing the tech behind Churchill Downs’ 50/50 raffle, half of which benefits Thoroughbred Aftercare, Arts and Education, and Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research.
About nine months ago, you came up with a concept that would become a new startup company, Slingshot Ventures. Can you tell us about that?
Galownia: Our company usually operates on a consulting-level arrangement where people pay us for a project or by the hour. We wanted to do projects that allowed us to be more a part of a business.
It goes like this: Somebody has an idea for a company, Slingshot Ventures acts as the technical co-founder--meaning we design and build a product for them—and then we become an equity owner in that business. We’re currently working with two companies that will be releasing a product near the end of this year.
What are the advantages of running a company based in Louisville?
Galownia: Louisville is very connected. If you need to get a hold of someone, people are willing to help. The biggest benefit of Louisville is the cost of living and the cost of doing anything. If you start a tech company in Silicon Valley and want to hire a programmer, it’s going to cost you two to three times as much as it would in Louisville. If you have a million dollars in funding, it will last you a year in Silicon Valley, but it would last you three years in Louisville.
And you can raise money anywhere now. You can go across the globe for funding and still come back to Louisville to start your business.
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MAKING AN IMPACT
Louisville startup helps companies measure their cultural well-being
Researchers at UofL’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences have launched a startup called UPOP, which stands for “Underestimated People of Purpose.” Organized as a Kentucky Public Benefit Organization and certified as an LGBT business enterprise, UPOP describes itself as a public health and cultural analytics company whose mission is “to humanize the future of work through culture and science.”
One of its current initiatives is a national survey called “Cultural Well-being and Innovation in the Time of COVID-19.” UPOP plans to share the survey results in a series of briefs and webinars this summer.
UPOP board chair Dayna Neumann said, “One of the worthiest innovation challenges in the months and years ahead will be in creating new forms of cultural well-being in our places and spaces. Cultural well-being is not about changing what came before, it’s about creating what comes next, together.”
Production company founder makes a personal documentary
Photo courtesy, Chronicle Cinema.
Zach Meiners is the founder of busy Louisville-based commercial production company Chronicle Cinema. While his company is known for creating commercial videos, advertising, digital marketing, animation, and virtual reality products for brands such as Woodford Reserve, GE, McDonald's, and Proctor & Gamble, his latest project is a very personal one. Meiners is finishing up his feature film about conversion therapy.
Conversion therapy is a discredited practice aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity through shaming, emotionally traumatic, or physically painful stimuli.
“It was something that I went through when I was a teenager. I found out a year or two ago that it was still happening. I decided to make a video to tell my story to help other survivors and hopefully bring a stop to the practice,” Meiners said.
In fact, Meiners was doing production work for Humana when he began working on the documentary.
“It struck me that it was really a public health issue. The Humana Foundation ended up giving us a grant. Steve and Terri Bass—Steve is an investor and Terri is one of the top land and real estate agents in Louisville and works for Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty—also became big supporters of the project,” Meiners said.
Meiners interviewed survivors all over the country, shocked at how often the practice was still being used, and the scope of the project grew, turning it into a feature film.
“COVID-19 put a halt on everything for a while but we expect to release the doc before the end of the year,” he said.
High school student receives patent for pregnancy monitoring device
North Oldham High School senior Riya Shah was ahead of the curve when she came up with an idea for a telehealth solution to help guide women through pregnancy. At the age of 15—well before the pandemic made remote medical care so critical—she began designing a portable device that pregnant women could use to monitor their contractions. From that concept, she built her company, Fetal Life, which has just received a patent for the device.
Along with the monitoring tool, the company developed a companion app, MyFetalLife, which offers a host of interactive features for nurse telemonitoring and self-managed care, including dietary recommendations, medication reminders, a “kick counter,” a weight and blood pressure tracker, and gestational diabetes management.
Shah has received a full-ride scholarship to Georgia Tech, where she plans to keep growing her company. “Based on the strong customer response, we are excited to continue to introduce new features to help pregnant mothers better manage their health during pregnancy. To meet telehealth and other changing needs, we are committed to keeping the app relevant and always at the forefront of the market.”
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