By ANDREW MOORE
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
San Antonio New Tech held its fourth monthly meeting this week — showcasing four new San Antonio start-ups ready to show-and-tell. The ideas ranged from providing discount doctors and creating virtual business cards to creating an online bartering site that reduces the need for currency. And due to their start-up nature, many are still hiring.
“Imagine if you could tell what the price would be of going and visiting a doctor before you actually go visit,” said Gopinath Khandavalli, the presenter for Budgetdoc. “BudgetDoc is like Priceline for doctors.”
BudgetDoc wants to make affordable healthcare available to more people by creating a network of doctors willing to give discounts to patients that pay cash up front. The site was designed primarily for people that can only afford catastrophic care insurance – meaning low cost and very high deductible – and for those who are uninsured. People using the site can research a doctor, what services the doctor offers, how expensive they are, and what discounts the doctor gives for paying in cash. Coupons for the discounts will be on the webpage for customers to print at home. BudgetDoc makes it easy for customers to contact physicians if they have any questions not covered on the site. The site also allows patients to rate doctors and to evaluate them in side-by-side comparisons.
“No competitors are doing price transparency like we are,” said Khandavalli. “Nobody is working towards doctors who offer cash prices at the time of service.”
While Khandavalli acknowledges that patients will probably need additional services at additional costs after the initial check-up, he says the site will endeavor to list prices for all services a doctor provides. Khandavalli hopes that this will empower people who would otherwise not seek healthcare because of the large hidden costs associated with treatment. He also hopes it will help insured patients who cannot find inexpensive or timely healthcare in their healthcare provider’s network and seek services outside that network.
The BudgetDoc network already has around 30 providers — including a pathology lab — and all providers are vetted through information from the Texas Medical Board. BudgetDoc uses the information to insure that doctors have a license and insure that they have had the proper education and training credentials. The network includes both cash-only doctors and those that accept insurance and Medicare. Khandavalli says that doctors accepting insurance can still offer discounts as long as the discounts are restricted to cash-up-front services.
The BudgetDoc site already has around 350 unique visits a month and has been used by 800 patients. BudgetDoc is looking to hire a marketing manager that can do social media outreach as well as blogging and community events. If the site sees success in creating a large network that attracts many patients, it will pay for the increased workload by charging providers a small fee. The site will always be free for patients.
Contact Card is the brainchild of urologist Naveen Kella. It’s a virtual business card – or v-card — sharing app designed to simplify the process of exchanging business cards at conferences and big group events.
“When you do come back home from a conference, you have your suitcase – open it up and there’s like 30 cards in there,” said Kella. “When do you have time to organize all that?”
Contact Card allows the user to quickly create a virtual business card and then share that card through e-mail or a QR code. In a pinch customers can just take a picture of your card as well. The QR code functionality means the app will work even without phone reception or internet access. Contacts you meet can use any other QR reader to download the v-card as well. Kella says the app is ideal for professionals that “wear many hats” and don’t have business cards for all of their services.
Contact Card will also automatically organize v-cards it obtains from other users into a virtual rolodex. From there, the app lets you call or e-mail a contact just by taping on the number or address on their v-card. In the future, Kella hopes to incorporate a feature that organizes business cards based on the location a user received them.
Contact card launched on Nov. 15 and is currently available only for iPhones, iPads, and iPods which are using iOS 5.0 or later. The basic app is free but it will come with a premium card design pack for $1.99. Kella does not have any plans to adapt it for Android, though that may change depending on the app’s reception.
Appfog was founded by CEO Lucas Carlson. It’s a web hosting and platform-as-a-service provider that gives developers a platform to work with so they can create, launch, or improve their mobile app products without spending days on creating the necessary infrastructure. Appfog handles the internet hosting, the IT infrastructure, and any necessary maintenance for the developers — through cloud computing technology – to help them save time and cut costs. Senior Director of Customer Experience Chad Keck claims that Appfog can help a developer deploy an app in less than a day.
“Come to Appfog, pick your technology, choose your provider and region, launch your app and you’ll be home in time for dinner,” said Keck. “We want developers to stay focused on their core competency, which is developing their application, and not on running servers all day.”
Appfog allows developers to work with many different types of code including PHP, Node, Ruby, Python, Java, and .NET. There are also many different regions and mobile providers that you can choose from without getting tied down to a particular one. Appfog has agreements with these providers and gives you a choice of the one you want to use. Appfog also allows developers to switch between providers within minutes – an option Keck says is not available with other companies like Amazon. In fact, Keck says that many of Appfog’s customers come from Amazon because they need more flexibility and features.
Appfog caters mostly to individual developers but works with small and medium businesses as well. It is free for applications that can run within 2 GB of ram – such as a WordPress site or simple blog – and starts at $100 a month for 4 GB of ram. Today Appfog has over 80,000 users and Keck says that around 10 percent of those users are paying for 4 GB and above. Many of the paying customers are enterprises running Appfog: Private Edition, which can run inside corporate firewalls.
Appfog is currently hiring for sales and support positions.
Kirpeep is a bartering and exchange website where users can exchange goods and services with or without the use of money. CEO Steven Quintanilla created the site in the hopes of reducing societies dependency on currency and helping people get things that they need by using their time and talents.
“Kirpeep is an exchange engine working to empower people who provide value to the community by making it easy to exchange goods and services with and without money,” said Quintanilla. “You can barter, you can buy, you can sell.”
Quintanilla demonstrated how a user could barter a slightly used iPhone for a set of tire rims. He also showed how users could post things they want to sell, barter, or buy on their Kirpeep profiles and then re-post them on social media sites such as Facebook.
Kirpeep is not limited to just bartering goods. Any service or talent can be put up for trade against any other service, talent, or good for sale – as long as it’s not prohibited by Kirpeep’s very specific terms of service. A user could trade a session of calculus tutoring for a dance lesson or a set of DVDs if they wanted.
If users want to use money they can purchase kirpoints from PayPal which have a 1-to-1 ratio to dollars. Kirpoints can be used alone or in combination with other goods and services to negotiate a transaction. The only catch is that users must buy 25 kirpoints at a time and must cash out in 50 kirpoints increments – a decision made to make bartering more attractive than spending money.
Once two users agree to an exchange and complete it, each is given a confirmation code to be used when they are provided with the others good or service. Once the codes have been entered you can rate the other user and impact their reputation.
Kirpeep has received $25,000 from Geekdom to start their business. Their website, and concept, is still in beta and has only been up for a few weeks, so potential difficulties may still lie ahead for the website. The IRS, for instance, will require people to report the value of what they barter — but because Kirpeep sees the value of something as subjective and ever-changing there are no guidelines for users to follow when reporting. Quintanilla says Kirpeep is only viewed as “a connector” by law and reporting the value of transactions is the responsibility of users alone.
As Kirpeep develops, they hope to be able to create a “value graph” for communities to help classify what is valued locally by what people trade the most for. They can then suggest matches and make recommendations to users. According to Quintanilla, once the real value of goods and services are recognized in a community, members of the community can find a better way of getting what they need than by spending money.
“What Google did for search, we want to do for exchange,” says Quintanilla. “There are seven billion of us, it’s crazy that we cannot have the basic human essentials with the 7 billion people we have as resources.”
Kirpeep currently has 7 employees and 5 consultants. They are looking to hire more developers that have experience coding in Ruby.
Disclosure: Geekdom is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News