Having built and left several businesses – including a FTSE 250 company – it’s safe to say that multimillionaire Steve Purdham has probably done his fair share of pitching.
Flanked by his 84-year-old mother Iris – who “can be very fierce”, Purdham entered the Dragons’ Den seeking £300,000 for a 10% stake in his business, 3rings. Using a plug connected to the kettle, or any appliance, the system sends a message through the cloud to any internet enabled device when the kettle is switched on to assure family members their elderly relative is up and about.
TV Dragon Sarah Willingham asked Iris if it had “ever not worked” – to which she replied: “it’s always worked”, recounting a time she’d woken up and been unable to move, and her son had known there was something wrong.
Sheffield-based company Westfield Health insurers spotted Steve on the programme and became the first company to put money into 3rings, investing more than double the requested funding and planning to bring 3rings’ technology to its customers.
Keeping in contact
I spoke to Steve who explained, “The UK population is getting older and many of our customers are in the ‘sandwich generation’ – balancing work commitments, with caring for older family members and looking after their own children – 3rings has the potential to help. Through this platform we want to stay ahead of the Internet and demonstrate how technology can care.”
“More than just giving peace of mind to families and loved ones, users have said how it has helped them to move beyond the everyday worries and have a better relationship with their relatives.”
The business was inspired by the traditional three rings code used by families in the times before mobile phones. During its beta phase the 3rings cloud platform and smartphone app linked with an elderly loved one’s landline phone. In 2015 this concept was replaced with the introduction of the 3rings smart plug.
Originally, 3rings helped families monitor the wellbeing of their ageing friends or relatives through a ‘smart plug’ that connects to domestic appliances such a kettle or a TV. It was created by Steve Purdham so that he and his siblings could rest assured that their 82-year old mother was well. Being an entrepreneur, he was determined to find a way to apply his thinking to support both older people and friends and family who are concerned for their welfare. There are now 11.6 million over-65s living in the UK and 1.5 million of them over 85.
The company has revealed how it has integrated its product with Amazon Echo, showing how smart homes and the ‘internet of things’ can help both older people and their relatives to live independently and be assured of the security of their loved ones.
It works with the Echo in two modes; the first allows friends and relatives to ‘ask Alexa’ if their loved one is safe and okay. The second mode can be used in a loved one’s home; they can ask Alexa to tell 3rings they need help, which will send out an immediate alert to their friends and family network.
Steve comments, “A key driver behind this development is that by 2020, 50 billion things will be connected to the internet. By integrating with Amazon Echo, it will enable 3rings to transform the face of social care and provide a stronger safety net to help families know their loved ones are okay each day.”
For more information on 3rings go to www.3rings.co.uk or telephone 0161 731
By Tina Foster