An Oxford-based smart plug developer which failed to attract backing on BBC Two show Dragons’ Den has secured investment from a health insurance company.
Westfield Health has become the first strategic investor in 3rings, which operates from Oxford and Congleton in Cheshire, and is supporting the commercial rollout of the 3rings technology.
Business Quarter magazine
One of Britain’s longest established health insurers has invested in 3rings – the caring tech start-up showcased by serial entrepreneur Steve Purdham on Dragons’ Den.
The not-for-profit health insurance company is the first strategic investor in 3rings and is supporting the commercial rollout of the 3rings technology, which is designed to help families who have older relatives living alone.
Westfield Health will offer the 3rings ‘Internet of Things’ smart plug and cloud service to existing and new customers – providing a platform for current and future innovation.
3rings first caught the attention of the Westfield Health team when tech entrepreneur founder, Steve Purdham, appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den alongside his 84-year-old mum Iris.
In this seed round, Westfield Health, a provider of healthcare policies in the UK since 1919, has invested more than double the funding 3rings had hoped to raise in the Den. The TV Dragons had been asked to invest £300,000 in exchange for a 10 per cent share.
Since launching the ‘Penny in the pound’ health scheme almost a century ago, Westfield Health has evolved to cater for its changing customer landscape and plans to incorporate the 3rings product into future service offerings of its own.
David Capper, Commercial Director at Westfield Health, said: “We immediately saw the potential in the 3rings concept and it sits well with our long-term innovation plans.
“There is an emerging market for smart technology to support health, wellbeing and family care. 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 technology has the potential to help.
“This is our first major external investment of this type. As well as assisting us in broadening our service portfolio it supports our ethos of helping people at every stage of their lives.”
With a consumer launch in April 2015, the 3rings smartplug connects household appliances, like a kettle or TV, with a cloud messaging platform to provide reassuring updates about routine use and alerts family when there could be a problem via a smartphone app, email, text or automated calls.
Steve Purdham, 3rings co-founder said: “Our partnership with Westfield Health goes beyond the financial investment and we will be working together on innovative product development and distribution to take 3rings and family social care to its next phase.
“The ‘Internet of Things’ offers tremendous opportunities to help our ageing population to stay independent for longer and reduce the pressure on families. Within the next five years 50 billion objects will be connected to the Internet and while technology should never replace real contact with family members, it can have an immense supporting role.
“3rings shows how smart technology can perform in a caring context and translates data into meaningful information for families. The 3rings cloud-messaging portal is fundamental to our on-going development and has the ability to collect data from a wide-range of internet-connected devices in the future.”
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Notes to Editors
About Westfield Health
Westfield Health is one of the UK’s leading not for profit health insurance providers, regulated by the FSA.
Established in 1919, Westfield Health has more than 400,000 policyholders throughout the UK, and approximately 9,000 organisations nationally operate a Westfield Health plan for their employees.
A multi award-winning provider, the Sheffield-based company offers a range of flexible and innovative healthcare plans.
In 2012, Westfield Health introduced Hospital Treatment Insurance (HTI) to the market – an innovative product offering prompt access to fixed price private treatment packages for a wide range of surgical and medical procedures.
In the years that have followed, Westfield Health has continued to enhance its range of plans to offer a more holistic approach than ever before. This included the addition of two new benefits at no extra cost to premiums – the expert second medical opinion service, Best Doctors, and the online retail discount facility, Westfield Rewards.
Westfield Health was the first health cash plan provider to incorporate an employee assistance programme as standard in its corporate plans. Cover starts from just £1 per employee, per week.
Through the Westfield Health Charitable Fund, the organisation supports communities across the UK and over the past 20 years the company has donated millions of pounds.
3rings is a UK-based company that develops technology to help families make sure ageing relatives they are OK. Rather than replacing real contact with loved ones – it is designed as an added ‘safety net’ and gives peace of mind.
The business was inspired by the traditional three rings code used by families in the times before mobile phones. Its core product is the 3rings smart plug and cloud-based platform, which connects ageing relatives with Internet enabled family members using everyday appliances, like a TV, kettle of toaster. 3rings can instantly let the entire family know that mum, dad or grandparents, are up and making their usual morning cup of tea or have switched on the TV.
The 3rings smartplug has inbuilt mobile technology, so elderly relatives don’t need their own Internet connection. Based on individual family rules, messages and alerts are sent to family members by smartphone app, email, text or automated calls.
See how it works here: www.3rings.co.uk
The founding 3rings team consists of Steve Purdham, Gareth Reakes and Julie Purdham.
Steve Purdham, 3rings’ chairman and co-founder – Steve has built a number of businesses, including:
- SurfControl plc – Internet security start-up, which went on to employ more than 700 people in 14 countries. Sold for in excess of $400m to US competitor Websense.
- Indentum Ltd – Email encryption spin out from the University of Bristol, which Steve rescued & sold to Trend Micro.
- We7 Ltd – co-founder investor of online music sharing service with Gareth Reakes, alongside former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel. 3 million users a month at its peak. Acquired for £10m+ by Tesco in 2012 and rebranded Blinkbox.
Steve has won many prestigious business awards and was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Teesside, of which he is a former computing student.
Gareth Reakes, 3rings’ CTO and co-founder – Gareth is the technical genius behind the 3rings technology and has also previously built companies in the tech space.
- We7 Ltd – co-founder and chief technical officer of the online music sharing service, which was sold to Tesco in 2012 and rebranded Blinkbox.
- Gareth was since appointed Technology Director at Tesco PLC.
Gareth studied computing science at Oxford Brooks University and has been a member of the advisory panel for the software engineering at Oxford University.
Julie Purdham, CFO and co-founder – Julie has always been the voice of reason and strength behind Steve in all his ventures and took active operational roles in the formative years in each business.
In SurfControl PLC , 1997 to 2007 Julie helped manage the early global operational requirements from the UK before focusing upon one of the acquired subsidiaries, CyberPatrol, a child Internet safety business.
In 2000, Julie was the instigator within SurfControl, of a unique service called Chat Monitor on behalf of Manchester Police to detect and identify potential paedophiles on the Internet. This led to two high profile National Police campaigns ‘Project Magenta’ and ‘Project Appall’
Again in WE7, Julie helped develop and manage the essential Business processes of administration, forecasting and budgetary control, as the company went through its hyper growth phase.
Prior to working directly with Steve, Julie worked for The CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) – Manchester for 20 years, working initially in Ambient Food Distribution, with accounting and administration responsibility for a distribution centre with a throughput of £150m and a team of 20.
Recent statistics have revealed that 9 out of 10 mothers would prefer an I-pad to flowers on Mother’s Day. Gadget gifts can be particularly well received by older parents, with technology helping to connect modern families who often work and live remotely and bridge gaps between generations.
So, if you’re looking for thoughtful, yet practical ways to show your love this Mother’s Day (March 6th 2016), check out this Wish List:
- 3rings Plug. Do you worry about your ageing loved ones or have a parent whose ill? Imagine Mum could give you a reassuring message that she is OK, or more importantly an alert that something might be wrong, just by making her morning cup of tea or tuning into Good Morning Britain. That’s what 3rings does. Fit the smart plug to most household appliances and it will send messages to you and all your family’s smartphones, tablets or laptops, reassuring you that your loved ones are OK. With inbuilt mobile technology, mum doesn’t even need their own internet connection. This caring plug will make a huge difference to your state of mind. For more information on the product go to https://www.3rings.co.uk/
- FitBit. This health device is a fantastic, informative and fun way to encourage your mum to lead a healthier and more active life. The Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Tracker tracks steps taken, stairs climbed, distance travelled, calories burned, activity level and sleep quality. The Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale also allows users to follow their weight, body fat percentage and BMI over time with a host of online graphs and mobile tools. To find out more go to https://www.fitbit.com
- Musical memories. The latest audio gadgets allow you to create a truly personal and unique gift. Why not buy your Mum a simple and easy to use MP3 player such as an iPod Shuffle (only £40!) and upload a selection of her favourite songs both new and old! If your budget stretches to a device with greater storage, you could even treat your Mum to an audio version of the latest bestseller.
- Create an E-Card. Sometimes a simple customised card can be a unique and, most importantly, thoughtful gift to send to someone. There lots of options – with some even allowing you to donate to a charity of your choice. So, a perfect excuse to get creative! We recommend http://www.ecards.co.uk/
- Picture perfect. Social media offers many ways for us show how much we love our Mums – for gratis! According to recent statistics 3.3 million people share pictures of themselves and their mum on Facebook. This year, Cancer Research UK is calling on people to share a #MyMumAndMe picture on Facebook and make a donation in celebration of their mum and to help protect more moments for mums everywhere. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/moremoments. Text MUM to 70200 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK*
The inspiration behind 3rings is Steve’s 84 year old mum and Gareth’s nan. 3rings wanted to find a simple way to help families look after their ageing loved ones, regardless of distance and time pressures. Everything 3rings does is about answering the question ‘Is my ageing mum and/or dad OK today?’. It was that focus that led to the invention of the 3rings plug — the plug that cares.
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For retired schoolteacher Rosemary Phillips looking after her elderly mum has been tough for the last seven years.
But thanks to the 3rings Plug, a device designed to help people keep check on their elderly relatives, she has recently discovered a newfound peace of mind – and some relief from the stress of it all.
Now 86, Rosemary’s mum Eileen had suffered bouts of depression since her husband died 20 years ago. Rosemary, who lives a 10-minute drive from her mum in Carlisle, said: “To a large extent mum has just given up on life. It’s very sad but life has become something of an existence for her. She is physically okay but tends to just sit in her chair most of the day.”
In May this year when 64-year-old Rosemary decided she needed a holiday, carers were put in place to keep an eye on her while she was away.
And at the same time, Rosemary’s brother Steve decided to see if there was any way technology could help too – and they decided to give the 3rings plug a try.
Now, when Eileen gets up to make her morning cup of tea, the moment she switches the kettle on, an alert is sent to Rosemary’s mobile phone. Her two brothers: Steve, who lives in Cheshire, and Anthony in Hartlepool, also get the alerts. If by 11am Eileen hasn’t used the kettle they each receive a ‘red alert’ warning – telling them their mum hasn’t been active that morning.
Rosemary says: “Mum doesn’t even know it’s there to be honest. She doesn’t really need to. It’s so simple but you wouldn’t believe the difference it’s made to my life. It’s given me such peace of mind. Getting mum some carers in place plus the addition of the 3rings plug has taken such a lot of worry off my mind. I was really stressed before and now a lot of that stress has been taken away.
“Thankfully we’ve only had the red alert once and it turned out to be a false alarm. It turned out mum had ran out of milk so she hadn’t made a brew that morning! My son, who also gets the alerts, dashed round to check on her to find she was fine.
“The 3rings plug is such a fantastic invention – I would recommend it to anyone who has an elderly parent living by themselves. Once you’ve put your personal settings in on the app on your phone there’s nothing you or your mum or dad have to do. Just wait for that alert each day and the reassurance that they are okay. Like all the best inventions it’s really simple, and you’re left thinking, ‘I wish I’d thought of that!”
“The 3rings Plug certainly doesn’t replace face to face contact with mum – I still regularly pop round to see that she is okay. But it just provides me with that extra bit of reassurance, which is invaluable. I don’t know what I’d do without it now.”