Startups
Apps / Entrepreneurs / Health / Resources / Startups

A fighter pilot-turned-software engineer developed a platform to help veterans navigate resources after leaving the military

Dan Kohli and team started Prize to help veterans improve their mental health as they adjust to civilian life.

Veterans can access resources on the Prize app. (Pexels/NikAff)
Correction: Dan Kohli is a current Meta engineer, not former. This story's headline has been updated. (2/5/24, 12 p.m.)

It can feel overwhelming to look for a new doctor or a financial planner when Google search results give you hundreds of options — even more so when you’re a veteran adjusting to life outside of the military.

Dan Kohli and his team are trying to make the process of accessing resources easier with their platform Prize, and they’re specifically focusing on veterans.

Allentown-based CEO Kohli served in the Marines Corps for 10 years, then entered the field of software engineering and UX design. After a few years in tech, including the past five as a senior software engineer at Meta, Kohli wanted to pursue a more impactful project.

He gathered a team who felt similarly, most of whom happened to be veterans. Through their own experiences and interviews with others, they found that there are a lot of resources out there for veterans, but it can be difficult to sift through them all to find what works. They also found that many veterans struggle with a loss of identity and purpose after leaving the military, which contributes to mental health challenges and struggles to adjust to “civilian life.”

So they started working on Prize, a platform to help veterans navigate resources such as financial planning, healthcare services, insurance and job search help. The company participated in two Bunker Labs accelerator cohorts during the development process.

Prize CEO Dan Kohli (right) pitches the company at a Bunker Labs event. (Courtesy Prize)

Prize uses machine learning to identify the needs of each user through a questionnaire based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — from physical needs, such as looking for a doctor, to identity and self-purpose needs.

The platform will list as many valuable resources as possible. As part of Prize’s business model, companies and organizations can pay Prize to collaborate on the content of their resource profile. The goal is to keep the platform free for veteran users, Kohli said.

One of the company’s goals is to make resource organizations more effective and add value to them, Kohli said.

“The resources are out there. They do fantastic things, but where a lot of them fall short is with user experience, and with technology,” he told Technical.ly.

The platform will provide users with only a few results at a time to avoid overwhelming them, Chief Creative Officer Jeffery Washko said. It will then take temperature checks of each user to see how they’re progressing on their goals and then slowly offer them more resource options.

The team is developing a minimum viable product and hopes to start beta testing in February. They also plan to launch its first funding round this year, Kohli said.

Eventually, Kohli said he would like the platform to help other populations, too, such as people who were previously incarcerated or students who are fresh out of high school and college.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Bunker Labs
Subscribe

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.

Trending

How to respond when a long-tenured employee quits? With grace

Amplify Philly is focused on building 'intentional' connections and finding new ways to showcase Philadelphia in 2024

The opportunity cost of fear: Underfunding Black founders hurts the US economy

Return to office or stay fully remote? For Philly tech companies, the decision is about recruiting, growth, cost and culture

Technically Media