After being forced to wind down operations in 2018, Milwaukee-based tech startup CodeBaby Inc. has returned with its highly advanced digital avatars – and increased market demand for the product.
Then based in Colorado, CodeBaby was acquired in 2016 by Mequon-based Intelligent Digital Avatars Inc. However, just two years later, the iDAvatars operation shut down. The most significant factor in the closure was the loss of Blue Cross Blue Shield as a client, having brought in more than $1 million in revenue per year.
However, iDAvatars’ then chief executive officer, Norrie Daroga, had purchased some of the company’s assets, including the CodeBaby platform and technology. For the past four years, Daroga and several investors have worked to perfect the startup’s platform. The company has received more than $1 million in outside funding to support the process.
CodeBaby’s technology allows for the development of intelligent digital avatars that can be used primarily in health care or educational settings. The avatars are customizable and can display compassion, empathy and a sense of humor. The virtual characters use conversational artificial intelligence to interact with users.
“You never know when the timing is going to be correct or when things might work out,” said Daroga, now president of CodeBaby. “I still felt that there was going to be value in the company. It was just far more complicated and far more expensive than I ever imagined.”
The pandemic has given CodeBaby a boost in customers as people not only learn and seek entertainment virtually, but also increasingly use telehealth services.
“It allows us to create experiences without using high-end developers,” said Daroga. “What we’ve built is the ability to create personas within your avatar. Eventually, we would like to use this to address issues like mental health and areas that are harder to deal with but where virtual characters have been proven to be more effective.”
CodeBaby is also being used in educational settings. One of the company’s customers is using the platform to create avatars that teach students American history. Daroga said there are several other companies using CodeBaby for internal educational programming.
CodeBaby has established an advisory board to help guide it as it broadens its offerings in the remote patient monitoring and digital health fields.
[caption id="attachment_440275" align="alignnone" width="255"] Norrie Daroga, CEO of CodeBaby.[/caption]
Founder: Norrie Daroga
Product: Intelligent digital avatars used primarily in health care or educational settings
Goal: Broaden offerings in the remote patient monitoring and digital health fields
Experience: Daroga was CEO of now-closed Mequon-based iDAvatars