The "aha" moment: When Fred Allegrezza moved his mother into an assisted-living facility five years ago, he bought her a Mac computer so she could stay connected with the family. But she couldn't figure out how to use it. That was when Allegrezza, a serial entrepreneur whose previous companies designed computer systems for cable companies, started thinking about creating a computer just for seniors.
R&D: In 2008, Allegrezza, along with longtime business partner Clifford Lewis and four designers, began to develop easy-to-use software for checking e-mail, holding video chats, managing photos, and browsing the Web. They tapped MSI Global to make the hardware for the computer, including an 18-inch touchscreen and built-in webcam. Last summer, they tested the prototype on 100 middle-aged adults with elderly parents. They gave it a thumbs-up.
Hitting the market: Since November, Chalfont, Pennsylvania—based Telikin has sold roughly 1,000 computers on Telikin.com, Newegg.com, and Amazon.com and in catalogs, including SkyMall, for $695. Now, it is developing a full line of computers, including desktops, laptops, and a tablet designed for both middle-aged and elderly users.
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