Last Summer my brother Jon asked me to talk to one of his great friends about his idea. His friend Mike Antonucci was one of the first of our generation we knew to start a business and really have it take off. Right out of high school he bought the old content of our local newspaper, the Peekskill Evening Star, and started making “Year Books” out of them for an older, nostalgic generation. He was very successful when most of us were frshmen in college and bought rights to a great deal of content and sold libraries full of books. Genius, right?
Fast forward 20 years and he was at it again, but this time in the digital space. I called him up and we talked about his Pandora-like idea. I have conversations like this seven times a day and I was giving him the, “well, that’s sorta already been done really well, how are you going to be better” talk. And because I have known Mike for 30 years, we moved on to other topics, which, since my medical training engenders it, included his father’s early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He noted that listening to old songs and looking at some pictures seemed to help his Dad remember and that maybe his Pandora-like idea could be useful for people with Alzheimer’s. I encouraged that and suggested he research it further, perhaps creating a new app that could be therapeutic.
So a few days later, I attended an event held by my friend Milenia Adamian, MD of the Life Science Angel Network. There were two speakers, one of whom was Mike Keriakas, Co-Founder and CEO of Everyday Health. In one of those strange coincidences, Mike wished out loud that there was an application that utilized the readily available online content that exists to help people with Alzheimer’s remember better. So, like any good friend, I pitched Mike Antonucci’s related idea from the audience. Mike was intrigued and wanted to meet with my friend. But Mike Antonucci, while a great entrepreneur, was new to the digital space. He needed to get his idea fleshed out, researched, protected, tested, planned, and at least mockups or a prototype built. At the time, he didn’t even have a computer! Undaunted, Antonucci was inspired and pursued the idea and raised enough seed capital to get the idea started. Now, his project is ready. The concept is proven, the business is planned, the IP is protected, the prototype is working, and he has his team ready to go.
Congrats Mike! We are very proud of you! For the almost 6 million Americans, about one in 10 over the age of 65 who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease we know your creation will be a godsend. And who better to make it than the man who was the first true young startup dude I knew. Thank you for inspiring me so long ago and for letting us help you build your dream to help your Dad.