Why we need Wheezy more than ever – founder and CEO Vicinity Health Chris Stiffler dies at 35
For many founders, their product or creation is developed out of the need to solve their own problems, and in turn it could help others. For Chris Stiffler, founder and CEO of Vicinity Health, who suffered from severe asthma attacks, he developed the software and design for a device called Wheezy that pairs with users’ smartphone to help predict an individuals’ next asthma attack. Chris told me that he developed Wheezy for himself, and most importantly for his son, also, “I wanted to develop something to help people project potential complications and understand their reactions to certain environmental triggers,” he said.
Furthermore, he developed the app to give the user feedback on the daily impact of their activities, potentially forecasting the increased probability of life altering consequences related to their conditions.
Sadly, sources close to the family and a note written on his Facebook page by his wife* confirmed that, Chris passed away on Saturday evening from health complications and the very thing that he was building his device to predict-an asthma attack. He is survived by his wife Sandy and two young children.
With regard to the effectiveness of Wheezy, in a Facebook post written by Sandy , “Wheezy did forecast he will have asthma attack on his birthday, but we never [did] think this is [the] big one and took his life,” she stated.
Chris co-founded Vicinity Health with the purpose of designing health devices and wearables paired with ones’ smartphone to help people take control of their health conditions, such as asthma. His team believes that knowledge is power, and data-mining from one’s personal and wearable devices is the key to customized and preventative health management.
Wheezy is currently in the beta phase, and the co-founders are in the midst of raising money and launching a kickstarter campaign to further development and production.
Co-founder of Vicinity Health, Scott Shrake, Ph.D. was unable to comment at this time about the future of the company.
Recently, Chris and co-founder Scott Shrake, Ph.D. pitched at TiECon 2014 in front of tech CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors from all around the world and were one of the youngest startups to pitch. Vicinity Health was chosen out of over 2,800 applicants from 27 countries.
I had the pleasure of following these co-founders from the preparation of their first big pitch at TiE Con to the post-celebratory drink, a journey that I will forever treasure.
Hours after their pitch, these sleep-deprived, hungry and brain-drained men, sat in the hotel lounge with their drinks in hand and continued to talk about how thankful they were for each other, and shared that even audience members commented on how well they worked together.
“The experience was eye-opening,” Stiffler said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on how well we work together. I’m so excited to have a team that supports each other and have fantastic talent in every aspect of the company to get this done.”
Here are a few pictures captured from the TiE Con 2014 journey.
Local businesses and co-working spaces who knew Chris are saddened by the loss of a friend as well as the loss of a special member of Arizona’s tech community.
“Chris was a part of our Gangplank family, a good friend, a loving father and husband who worked to make a better world for his family, and an extremely talented member of our community,” Executive Director Trish Gillam said in a statement on behalf of Gangplank, a co-working office space. “We are in shock at this news and grieving. He will be deeply missed.”
On another personal note, Chris was the first person to help bring cool, new gadgets to AZTB and he was always, and I mean always, willing to help myself and AZTB.
“I want to help others and in turn they will help me back-that’s how it works,” he would say with a smile.
All of us at AZTB send our thoughts and prayers to the family. We will certainly miss his presence around HQ-and those white rimmed glasses.
A fund has been set up for the family and you can donate at youcaring.com.
Scott also shared the story behind Vicinity Health with Fox 10 News
We will bring you more information about Vicinity Health in the coming week.
More about Chris Stiffler: Prior to Vicinity Health, Chris was a Mobile and Web Application Developer at IDS Technology Marketing until 2013, and before that, a Product Support Technician at PayPal, a Programmer and Developer at Flying Ninja Monkey, and Campaign Specialist & Sales at Google AdWords.
*The authorship on Chris’s Facebook page has not been confirmed.
Photo credit yours truly and the rest was from Chris