The Semafores Story

Semafores Logo
Our Logo based on semaphore flags.

When a mistake with medication nearly put one of Julie Tittler's children in the hospital, she searched for a way to prevent errors and simplify caregiving. Finding nothing available that met her needs, she started Semafores and began creating Curi™, our social mobile family caregiving application.

Semafores is proud to be a 2013 MassChallenge alumni company. We were a finalist in the 2014 Female Entrepreneur Challenge, sponsored by the Center for Women & Enterprise, Care.com, and the Boston Business Journal. We remain engaged with the Boston startup community, most recently through South Shore Innovation.

The Semafores Team

Semafores small but dedicated team is hard at work bringing help to family caregivers with Curi™. We bring a variety of work and family caregiving experience to the job.

Julie Tittler headshot
Julie Tittler,
CEO & Mom

Julie Tittler

CEO & Mother of Inspiration

Julie is Semafores' founder and driving force. In addition to serving as Semafores' CEO, she also fills the roles of system architect and developer. She brings 23 years of software engineering experience to the job, as well as the practical experience as a family caregiver that led her to found the company. She holds a BA from Cornell University's College of Engineering. Julie is a longstanding member of the IEEE, the IEEE Computer Society, WIE (Women in Engineering), and the Society of Women Engineers.

Gil Swire headshot
Gil Swire,
Testing Hero

Gil Swire

VP of Customer Experience

Gil is a cofounder of Semafores. He handles quality assurance and customer experience. He has over 20 years experience in software development and QA. Gil has been a family caregiver for both his mother-in-law and his children. Gil received his B.S. from Hobart College.

Curtis Ellett headshot
Curtis Ellett,
Man Friday

Curtis Ellett

VP of Operations

Curtis is a cofounder of Semafores. He handles most of Semafores business operations as well as driving marketing efforts. Curtis brings a background in writing and web design to the job, as well as a willingness to take on other tasks as needed. He received an M.A. from Cornell University. Among other previous jobs, he's been a stay-at-home dad for his child.

Semafores' Mission

  • To help families get and stay well using Curi™, our social mobile family caregving platform.
  • To deliver value to our partners by reducing their costs and helping them engage their clients
  • To deliver value to our shareholders by managing for long term growth, leading to a stable and profitable company.
  • To create a work environment for our employees that reflects the values inherent in our product—family, health, teamwork, and design excellence.

Articles

A driving instructor and a student in a car.
Watching the test-drive.

In my software career I have tested everything from missile systems to television sets. Curi™, however, is new and different kind of consumer device, for me, anyway. While a member of Mass Challenge we took advantage of an opportunity to meet with members of the software development team of a large health insurance company. They stressed the importance of testing a consumer product, especially its user interface, as many times as possible with as many people as possible. There are so many nuances to be learned from how people use your product that the time spent teaching people and watching them is an investment with huge returns.

A girl in a boy doing a chemistry experiment.
Curi™ in the lab.

Over the last few weeks the Semafores team has started the process of testing Curi™, our mobile social application for family caregiving, while development progresses. For the time being we’re demonstrating our user interface (UI) using a prototype in the lab. created using InVision, a web based application for creating and sharing clickable prototypes for web pages and mobile apps. We decided early in the process of creating our prototype that we would need to give our testers a guided tour to get the most out of the test. Curi™ is a complex application with many moving parts and making it seamless enough for our testers to wander at will would have taken months—time better spent in sharing the design and creating the working version. By giving our testers a tour we can direct them to the parts of our design that we want to learn about, and avoid the extra effort of creating similar screens and mocking up parts of the application, like help screens, that we felt we could safely leave for later.

A pile of money.
Not the reason at all.

In a recent report, Valuing the Invaluable, 2015 Update, the AARP estimated the value of family caregiving in the United States in 2013 at $470 billion (http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/valuing-the-invaluable-2015-update-new.pdf). That’s more than total Medicaid spending, more than the total of Americans’ out-of-pocket medical expenses, and almost as much as Walmart’s sales for that year. The way Semafores sees things, this number is undoubtedly too low. The AARP is concerned with issues affecting older Americans and the definition of family caregiver that they used for this study included only those people who provided unpaid care for elderly or disabled adults. Another report, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, from the AARP, in association with the National Alliance for Caregiving, looked at family caregiving in a wider context and found that 10.2 million people provided care for children with special needs, often caring for an adult as well. (http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/caregiving-in-the-united-states-2015-executive-summary-revised.pdf). The value of this care provided to children was not even considered in the economic impact study.

Hands together in the center of a circle
How we work.

It is hard to say much about Semafores’ corporate culture today. We are a tiny enterprise and our culture could be summed up as three friends working together to found a company. There is little need for formal structure or policy in our daily working environment. It is sufficient for us to meet regularly and keep lines of communication open. Beyond that we make our own hours and keep our own schedules. Everyone in the company is a co-founder. We all have an ownership interest and there can be no division between management and labor.

To be successful, however, Semafores must grow. There will come a time when the team is larger and not everyone is a founder. Company culture will become a key part of our corporate identity. It will be critical in. attracting and retaining talented people in our organization, and it will also be reflected in our relationship with our customers, especially with our end users.

Julie Tittler
Julie Tittler
CEO & Mom

My name is Julie. I'm the CEO and Mother of Inspiration of Semafores, Inc. This is the story of Semafores' origin.

About two-and-a-half years ago, I was laid off from my job as a Senior Software engineer during a company reorganization. I had just had my daughter and was happy to have the time with her without having to worry about telecommuting 24 hours per week. I didn't have many spare brain cells to rub together to worry about what came next in my career. The fatigue of a nursing mother knows no bounds particularly when there is another very high energy child in the mix.