Link To Guest Website: PathCheck Foundation

Title: “Open Sourced COVID Tracking, Contact Tracing, & Vaccine Verification”
Guest: Graham Dodge – PathCheck
Interviewer: Jeffrey Davis – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript

Jeffrey (0s):
Well, hello, everybody. Welcome back to radio entrepreneurs. My name is Jeffrey Davis and the other person with the entrepreneurial logo is Nathan goes my producer. Welcome Nathan. Thanks for joining me. We consistently and continue to stream stories of entrepreneurship and stories and how people are dealing with their leadership and their organizations and the chaos of this world that surrounds us every day with new challenges and our next guest. I’m glad to introduce Graham Dodge president of path check. Welcome Graham.

Graham (31s):
Thank you for having me Jeffrey.

Jeffrey (33s):
Thank you, Graham Graham, what is path check?

Graham (37s):
Pat check is a 5 0 1 C3 nonprofit that was founded at MIT during the COVID pandemic. And it was set up to address the need to develop open source software that was privacy preserving for people to use for COVID tracking and for contact tracing, exposure notifications and vaccine verification. And since then, it’s grown to be about, I think the latest numbers that we’ve shipped about over a billion credentials, meaning all our code is now integrated into all these various vaccine verification apps, exposure notification out around the world to the point where there’s about, about billion people using them.

Jeffrey (1m 17s):
Wow. Why did you go non-profit?

Graham (1m 21s):
Well, nonprofit was really in the best interest of the organization because in this space and I come from the space as a previously, as a, as entrepreneur or CEO of a privately held company, you know, a lot of the problems in public health are the data silos that have been created through private interests. And so what path checks founders really wanted to accomplish in this case? And it wasn’t, it wasn’t me. I’m not a founder of this organization. I, I came in later as the president, which is an interesting transition for me having been a founder myself, but the founders wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen. That wasn’t, this wasn’t a data silo play that this wasn’t going to be something that, that wasn’t interoperable with other systems.

Graham (2m 9s):
And so that, so it’s in the DNA of being a nonprofit and being an open source initiative.

Jeffrey (2m 17s):
Well, and the transition, can you explain, you know, obviously as an entrepreneurial show, can you explain to me some of the organizational dynamics around that?

Graham (2m 29s):
Well, so my own transition, you mean from,

Jeffrey (2m 32s):
Well, you said you, you weren’t, you said you were brought in sort of you, you transitioned into the role. It wasn’t necessarily the original goal.

Graham (2m 40s):
Correct? Right. So I, I had previously founded another company called sick weather and sick weather track the spread of disease using social listening. And we operated, I was the CEO and founder of that organization, about 2011 to 2018. I stepped down and had a change of control, right. The pandemic hit. But during the pandemic, I was in a two year non-compete, you know, non, you know, all, all that kind of stuff. And so I basically had to, I couldn’t do anything. And I had friends of mine who ended up coming together and founding fact-check foundation during the pandemic.

Graham (3m 20s):
And then at some point once they needed a new leadership, because, you know, as the pandemic kind of waned, the people who had started it needed to go back to doing their other jobs. And here I was sort of sitting on the sidelines, just coming out of my two year non-compete with sick weather and ready to hit the ground running. So as soon as they had that opportunity, I, I jumped in and they, you know, brought me in with open arms and it’s been, it’s been great to be able to take what I learned over the past, I guess, eight, nine years with sick weather and start to apply it to what we’re doing at pat check, which is now focused on developing crowdsource platforms, crowdsourcing platforms for people to use in-between pandemics.

Graham (4m 9s):
Now that we’re coming out of this.

Jeffrey (4m 12s):
Interesting. Now you say a billion users, my guess is it’s just not a competitive category for you.

Graham (4m 20s):
That’s right. So path check is, you know, because it’s open source, it has been forked from get hub, obviously law many times. And that’s why that billion dollar members there it’s because we have several third-party integrators representing entire nations who have taken our code and deployed it to build their own systems. So if it weren’t for path checks, code underpinning these systems, I don’t know where they would be today.

Jeffrey (4m 52s):
Wow. Interesting. So how do you see this evolving over the next couple of years? Because again, the pandemic is continues to indicate that there’s waves, there’s an increase in over the majority of states have COVID. So how do you see this evolving?

Graham (5m 9s):
Well, the virus itself is following a pattern of mutating to be less severe each time. And that’s, that’s a good thing and that’s sort of expected by most virologists. So we are looking at this becoming endemic, if it isn’t already, and then how do we live with it? So how do we live with influenza? You know, would be the, you know, the analogy there. And once we, we know what that looks like. I mean, flu prior to COVID costs, I think it was us businesses, something like $16 billion a year in lost productivity because of flu season. So there’s a huge impact that COVID is going to continue to have alongside of flu, alongside of, you know, RSV respiratory syncytial virus alongside of you hand foot, mouth disease and daycares.

Graham (5m 60s):
And so people are to want to know what these things are when they’re emerging and how to avoid them. And so that’s what a path check is planning on on building now is this open source, open platform, crowdsourcing, a feature that will let people, and this will be open source other again, just like we did with vaccines verification. Other nations, other agencies can take this code and deploy it. But the idea is we want to be able to provide the code says, here’s, here’s what you use in between pandemics to help stave off the next one by informing everyone of risk in real time. And that’s our goal right now.

Jeffrey (6m 38s):
Interesting. I, I’m just wondering also, how do you generate revenue for this business? Is it through who is, what is it organizations to give donations or how’s the whole funding system working?

Graham (6m 54s):
Yeah, so, so far we have relied heavily on outside funding from donors and foundation foundational support. We have, we do have revenue. We are sustainable in the sense that even though what we develop and what our volunteers develop is open source. Oftentimes our clients need to have these things integrated and they don’t have the expertise on staff to do that. So they will basically contract with pat checks, developers to tailor the code to their needs and to deploy it. So in that case, you know, we have, I think it’s about seven different states that we’ve worked with.

Graham (7m 35s):
For example, like Minnesota, Louisiana, Hawaii. These are all states that have actually contracted with path check to for that extra sort of last mile support to get the open source code built into whatever platform they needed built into.

Jeffrey (7m 52s):
That’s all very interesting and exciting. I, and I hope you come back again and tell us how everything is evolving. We’ve been speaking with Graham Dodge, president of path check. I assume path check is in most of our lives and we didn’t even know it. Those of us who have been vaccinated Graham, if someone’s looking for you or path check, how would they find you?

Graham (8m 14s):
They would go to path,, and they can certainly email me directly at path. Check that org.

Jeffrey (8m 23s):
It’s very easy. And again, I want that commitment to come back again. We want to know how things are evolving. Again, speaking with Graham Dodge, president of path check, and also Nathan gold is the producer of radio entrepreneurs. We’re going to be taking a break. We’ll be right back with more stories. Thank you, Graham.

Graham (8m 40s):
Thank you, Jeffrey.

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