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A DC startup supporter created an app to help friends and family support medical patients

With Journey Together, Ayanna Smith goes from helping founders to being one.

Ayanna Smith using the Journey Together app. (Courtesy photo)

After a controversial departure from her previous role earlier this year, GET Cities alum Ayanna Smith is back with a new startup in the wellness space.

Smith, who worked with GET Cities DC supporting founders and technologists, just created the app Journey Together to help people better assist loved ones in tough times. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in November of last year, Smith set out to create Journey Together in January. She was inspired, she said, after seeing all the calls, texts, visits and various recommendations from loved ones that eventually became overwhelming. Tech, she thought, could provide a solution to help manage the offers of help and keep it all in one place.

She said she first realized the disconnect in care when she had friends and family sending expensive flowers to her house. While she appreciated the gesture, she noted that the $150 for a bouquet could have been better spent on bills, food or other items that she needed for treatment.

“That’s wonderful and beautiful, and I would never ask anyone to do anything for me, but that money could have been spent so differently,” Smith said. “There are things that I actually needed more than flowers.”

With Journey Together, users can set boundaries to tell friends and family when it’s okay to call or visit; post video, photo or text updates on their medical journey; and set up a wish list for what they need, including monetary donations options. Additionally, there are organization features where users can store recommendations from friends — anything from movies to herbs that might help — as well as notes like feedback from doctor’s visits. Finally, friends and family can sign up to help with tasks like childcare, cooking, grocery shopping or rides to doctor’s appointments.

As she created the app, though, Smith realized that the care methods could be applied to any number of illnesses or personal events that require support, like the death of a loved one, house fires, a new baby and more. Still, Smith said this is just the beginning of the app’s journey, and she’d like to add even more capabilities based on what users say they need most. The app is built with Flutter and Dart, with ASP.NET Core for the backend.

With the app, she hopes that users can both set boundaries and be clear about the help they need. While going through her treatment, she noted that many folks wanted to come over after her surgery and help, but it felt too overwhelming to have people over when she found it hard to even get a shower.

“I found myself saying ‘no’ to help more than ‘yes,’ for that reason: Because the help felt like work,” Smith said. “That’s what sparked this whole desire to have this app.”

To use the app, caretakers or those in need of assistance can set up a co-op and send out invitations to friends and family. For co-ops under 25 people, the app is free. Co-ops of 26-100 users pay a one-time fee of $5.99 and anything larger requires a $9.99 one-time fee.

The app is currently in beta testing, and Smith plans to formally launch for Android and iOS next month. She’s also working on a web option with the development team and plans to continue thinking of new ways to add to the app or scenarios where Journey Together could help.

“Anyone who’s ever had needed care in any way, medical care or any type of care, knows that it’s not an industry where things went smoothly or efficiently, which usually makes your need for care more stressful,” Smith said. “So the overall goal is to make care more efficient, and less stressful, for people who need it.”

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