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Geof Auchinleck

Loneliness and isolation among seniors are now recognized as a health epidemic – having the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Claris Companion provides an engaging and accessible platform to connect seniors to family, friends, and caregivers. We also provide curated content to entertain and open up opportunities to meet new people.

Tell us about yourself?

When I graduated from Engineering Physics at UBC in 1981, I saw an ad from Vancouver General Hospital for a ‘Biomedical Engineer’. I thought that sounded interesting, although I really had no idea what it entailed. I got the job and soon ended up on a team that built the first robot specifically designed for assisting in surgery. What followed was 40 plus years of developing medical technologies – ranging from knee implant systems to blood chemistry automation. In 1997, I took the plunge and co-founded my first company, Neoteric Technology, which ended up being a world leader in managing blood transfusions in hospitals. After selling that company in 2009, I attempted retirement but wasn’t very good at it. In 2012, I jumped back into the fray when I co-founded Claris Healthcare with Paul Sharman. Despite the twists and turns in the years since, I’m having way too much fun to consider retiring again – even though I’m now eligible for the Senior’s Discount.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Hang in there! We first introduced our social isolation solution in 2013 and, quite frankly, didn’t get anywhere with it for years. By the end of 2019, we were pretty close to throwing in the towel. Then COVID-19 arrived, and we all saw how that hurt older adults. Imagine being locked in your room with no way to communicate with family and friends except through a closed window! That has driven a huge boom for Claris and proven that we had the right idea – we were just a bit early to market. Remember, it’s better to be at the bus stop before the bus arrives, not just after it leaves. But perhaps not eight years early…

What problem does your business solve?

We started Claris to address the problem of delivering healthcare to an aging population. Our traditional acute care model is not well suited to managing the chronic conditions that are prevalent in older adults – institutional care for older adults is neither appropriate nor affordable. Claris opens the infinite possibilities of the Internet to those who might otherwise find it difficult to engage with technology. The result is more social contacts, more daily engagement with the world, and a channel through which professional or family caregivers can provide timely, relevant care.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

When Paul and I decided to start a new medical technology company, we talked to a wide range of medical professionals who all told us that an aging population means that we have to move care out of institutional settings into the home. Every idea we saw for in-home care started with the assumption of an Internet connection, and we recognized that any platform for delivering care into the homes of older adults was predicated on an engaged and active user.

At that time, my mom was 92 and phoned me for help with her TV remote control every few days. It was hard to imagine her mastering a smartphone or tablet. In thinking about an in-home healthcare platform my mom could use, I came to realize that while her children and grandchildren were busy using email, texts, and Zoom calls, she was sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. She was simply left out of the modern world of digital communications, yet had no interest whatsoever in learning how to use a computer.

A year later, she was doing video calls, sharing photos, and sending emails and text messages – and still had no idea how to use a computer. At that time, we didn’t really appreciate that social isolation and loneliness among seniors was actually a health epidemic. However, we have developed an ideal solution to the problem. It wasn’t until 2023 that the US Surgeon General released a report titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation”, bringing attention to this issue.

What is your magic sauce?

I’m tempted to say ease of use, but that is table stakes in this market. Our real secret sauce has nothing to do with our technology solution and everything to do with our team. We have developed a sterling reputation for superb customer support delivered by people who really care about the health and well-being of our customers. That, combined with curated content that is entertaining and engaging, quickly makes our Claris Companion product central to the daily lives of our end users.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We plan to keep growing like mad while expanding our geographic footprint. Our customers include county and state-level social care agencies in 22 US states, while in Canada, our product is offered by Telus Health under the Social Connect brand. We also sell directly to consumers in both the US and Canada through our website. We intend to be the recognized market leader in easy-to-use technology for connecting individuals with the things and people they love – everywhere.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Our biggest challenge was simply surviving long enough to find the right product-market fit. Although our product has actually never really changed, we have applied it to several different market opportunities. Initially, we offered it as a family care product sold directly to consumers. Later, we adapted it to coaching patients recovering from knee joint replacements. In 2019, we joined the rush to provide Remote Patient Monitoring solutions to physicians in the US, funded through new Medicare reimbursement codes. Each of these opportunities looked great at the time but never really got off the ground. It wasn’t until the recognition of the loneliness and isolation epidemic during COVID-19 that things really took off for us.

How can people get involved?

If you have an older family member living on their own, we can help keep them connected and safe. Visit to see what we can do for you and your family.