Q&A With Aaron Horowitz, CEO & Co-Founder of Sproutel

Jerry The Bear

Aaron Horowitz is CEO & Co-Founder of Sproutel, and is a maker; from sculptures to business, he is fascinated with the process of taking an idea from concept to reality. He is passionate about creating interfaces that drive a shift towards ubiquitous computing. Currently, Aaron is the Co-founder and CEO of Sproutel, the creator of Jerry the Bear – a platform for pediatric health and wellness education. He will be joining us on stage on September 29, 2016 at Advertising Week in New York.

We sat down with Aaron to talk about the Maker Movement and his advice for anyone who has a great idea but isn’t sure where to start.

A: What roles can Makers play in creating better experiences within healthcare?

I think that makers can function as independent research and development for large companies, creating a pipeline of products, services, and solutions to improve the overall healthcare experience.

Makers are driven by a desire to solve real problems for real people. This user centered lens guides makers to create the technology that should exist, empowering and supporting people in the ways they need. Equipped with the skills to build just about anything, makers are positioned to develop solutions that go beyond incremental improvements to what currently exists.

For these reasons, makers have a distinct advantage. They are able to create solutions to problems at a rate faster than larger entities can execute. This often occurs because of a lack of regulations for makers and our “build, build, build” mindset – resulting in rapid iterations that can create leapfrog advancements.

One thing I see makers struggling with is how to implement and scale the incredible solutions they dream up. This is where there exists an immense opportunity for collaborative innovation. Large companies can help enact solutions uncovered by makers on a broad scale and tap into the rich stories that makers collect throughout their process. These stories bring a typically unsung human element and narrative to healthcare innovation.

Q: What is your advice to people who have a great idea but don’t know where or how to begin to make the idea a reality

A: Two pieces of advice:

(1) Surround yourself with mentors who are smarter than you. It’s often discouraging when you feel as though you don’t have enough experience to take the first steps with your ideas. I’ve found it immensely helpful to build strong relationships with mentors. They can help point you in the right direction to get started and be a fantastic resource for the ups and downs along the way.

(2) Just start building! There are such a tremendous amount of resources available online to empower anyone to start building the ideas they dream of. When we started developing Jerry the Bear, the first thing our team did was go out and try to find other people to build the product for us. We quickly learned that no one was as passionate about our idea as we were! It was a difficult process to get started, but before long we started to pick up skills in electronics, programming, and interaction design. It’s incredible how quickly you can learn when working on a project, when every bit of knowledge gained can be directly applied to a task at hand. What began with baby steps ended up cascading into the work we’re still doing today!