How Preet Anand Uses Tech to Help People Living Alone Feel Safe

Daily check-ins keep seniors independent longer

Living alone can feel unsafe, so Preet Anand is leveraging his safety and risk technology experience into an app that serves senior adults living alone.

A closeup portrait of Preet Anand

Snug

Anand is the co-founder of Snug, developer of a virtual, daily check-in service for people living alone. The company built an app, compatible with iOS and Android devices, used by seniors and individuals with long-term medical conditions.

"We figured out the right way to get people in the habit of checking in frequently," Anand told Lifewire in a phone interview. "Snug is designed for someone living independently who has some risks they want to manage, so they use the app for both peace of mind and precaution." 

The company launched in 2017, but was in beta with its product for a few years before hitting an accelerated pace in 2019. With the company’s app, users can set daily check-in times. If they don’t meet those check-ins, Snug will alert their emergency contacts.

The interface is pretty simple and requires users to press a green checkmark to check in each day. Following check-ins, users get a friendly quote of the day.  

Quick Facts

  • Name: Preet Anand
  • Age: 33
  • From: El Centro, California
  • Favorite Game To Play: Beat Saber using the Oculus Quest 2
  • Key quote or motto he lives by: "Perpetuating free will." 

Tech Entrepreneurship Just Made Sense

Entrepreneurship in Anand’s family started with his parents decades ago, and he aspired to build his first company back in high school. After some schooling, a little time, and watching his parents work hard, Anand ventured into tech entrepreneurship in 2013.

"As immigrants, they are natural entrepreneurs. They moved to the States from India in the '70s to be doctors in a rural town, which was El Centro," he said. "Growing up, I saw them being involved in different business endeavors." 

Snug is the second company that Anand has founded. It spun out of his first venture, Patronus, creator of an app designed to better connect people with first responders.

Emergency tech company RapidSOS acquired Patronus in 2016. While Anand has been building Snug, he’s been working as a safety and risk product lead for Lyft

"During that experience at Patronus, a woman reached out to us and said that she lives alone and that she doesn’t worry about how she could call for help, but more so what happens if she can’t call for help," Anand explained.

"This is a particular need for a very specific group of people, so the idea of Snug as a standalone product was born."

Screenshots from the Snug app.

With a few dedicated team members, Anand said Snug contracts with monitoring service centers that have hundreds of employees.

After five years in business, Snug said there have been more than 1 million check-ins using its app, many of which came with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. Anand said the company is on track to hit 2 million check-ins by mid-summer. 

"A lot of seniors living alone have been unfortunately isolated through the pandemic," he said. "Snug has been helping them feel more connected and safe. We saw the business grow over 500% last year."

Luck and Optimism 

As a minority tech founder, Anand said he hasn’t faced much adversity in building his businesses. He says he's had a lot of luck in life, and focuses on making as many connections as possible. 

"I think I’ve been pretty lucky to say I haven’t had many challenges in that way," Anand said.

"Even with not having certain networks, particularly in tech, as my family members are mainly doctors, there still have been people who have just been willing to open doors for me."

When it comes to financing, Anand said Snug is bootstrapped, and he plans to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. The company is focused on revenue-based financing, since there are paid subscription options for its users.

"A lot of seniors living alone have been unfortunately isolated through the pandemic. Snug has been helping them feel more connected and safe."

With the company's growth, Anand said Snug now is looking to enhance its app to provide more services for users. 

"We want to go further in terms of the check-in experience, starting very simple with giving people the opportunity to have more than one check-in each day," Anand said.

"People adopt Snug for different levels of risks. Adding those additional check-ins to give them a little bit more connection is the big thing we’ll be focusing on in the near term."

Anand said the company also is looking to provide more contextual information to the dispatchers it works with, as well as users' emergency contacts. He’s optimistic about Snug’s prospects moving forward, and is eager to keep serving its expanding customer base.

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