Meet Michael Walsh of Cariloop in Medical District
Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Walsh, CEO of Cariloop.
Michael, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
This is a pretty loaded first question! The story of where I got to today starts back in a town called Frankfort located about 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. As the oldest of 5 kids with my 4 siblings all being sisters, it’s fair to say that I was raised to serve others and be very empathetic in situations where people that I know (or even those I don’t know) have fallen on hard times and need help.
As a kid that tried to play just about every indoor and outdoor sport that was available, my life has always had a strong health and wellness component as well. This is important to note because this is how I met one of my closest friends, Steve Theesfeld, that ultimately became my Co-Founder at Cariloop. Steve and I first crossed paths on the little league baseball diamond and ended up being teammates for the majority of grade school and high school. In the fall of 2003, I went off to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana to study Business and Finance and Steve went to CU Boulder to study Psychology.
Fast forward to January 2010, I had graduated and gone to work for a consulting firm in Chicago called Protiviti and Steve were working for Sunrise Senior Living in Minneapolis, MN. Steve and I got together in Chicago over dinner and talked about an idea he had to build a piece of software that helps families to better understand provider options for their loved ones. Over the next 2 years, we worked together as much as we could to gather feedback on the idea, and in July of 2012 Cariloop was born.
Sure – we’ve had our fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. But over the last 5+ years, Cariloop has graduated from the Health Wildcatters accelerator program in Dallas, raised over $2 million in private equity financing, put together an amazing group of 20+ team members, advisors, and board members, boarded over 25 employers with access to nearly 100,000 employee lives, and assisted thousands of families across the US as they plan for and manage the care of their parents, grandparents, spouses, in-laws, siblings, and adult children.
And the best part for me personally – I met the love of my life here in Dallas as Cariloop was getting off the ground. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I get to wake up every day next to someone I’m crazy about and spend my day with incredible people doing work that is making a huge difference in the lives of caregivers and families across the country.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Building something where no real market exists yet is never smooth, but I wouldn’t trade the experience and the journey we’ve gotten to go on these last 7-8 years for anything. This may sound strange to some given the multitude of issues that arise when you start up a company, but I think the biggest struggle early on was figuring out what the core values of Cariloop really were, then using those to establish a culture and create a movement around “caregiver support”.
There is a HUGE opportunity cost involved when you launch a venture and skip the step where you give it a soul. Future customers, users, investors, and employees are drawn to causes, not products. Thankfully, we embraced this lesson in the fall of 2014 and made some changes to the way we operate both internally and externally, and it has made all the difference the last few years for our growth trajectory.
Please tell us about Cariloop.
Our team at Cariloop provides the world’s first fully-integrated, tech-enabled Caregiver Support Platform to help working caregivers and families plan for and manage the care of their parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, in-laws, and adult children. Our Platform features a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based portal that helps families securely communicate across all devices and store important health, financial, and legal documents while having on-demand access to a dedicated, licensed/certified Healthcare Professional (we call them Healthcare Coaches) who guides the families through the many decisions they make over the length of their caregiving journey. Over the last few years, we’ve focused our growth efforts on deploying our platform in the employee benefits and health/wellness channels.
I am SO proud of the team we have built and the amazing work they do each and every day to ensure that none of our members and their families ever feel alone. Every member of our team has been down this road before, so there is an overwhelming amount of understanding in our group for the struggles people encounter along the way. I think that’s probably what sets us apart from other companies in this space – the commitment our group has to pushing the fold and doing whatever it takes to make this struggle just a little easier for the 25+ million people in our workforce trying to balance a career with caring for family members.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I can honestly say that every shortcoming we’ve come across on this journey has come with a valuable lesson or opened another door for us to explore. It’s tough to sit here and regret any of it happening because without it we wouldn’t be seeing the success we are.
I think if I could go back in time and give 2012 Michael some advice, I would remind him how important it is to quickly put together a team of people that are passionate about helping others and love to work hard and be challenged. Ultimately, Cariloop is a company dedicated to helping people take better care of people – can’t do that without amazing people on the team to spark that movement.
Originally posted by VoyageDallas on January 3, 2018