Startups

After seeming success, disease tracker Sickweather files for bankruptcy

Court filings indicate that the Baltimore-connected company, the tech of which aimed to help users track the spread of illnesses, had only $27,500 in assets against six-figure liabilities.

The Edward Garmatz Federal Courthouse, which houses the Baltimore branch of Maryland's federal bankruptcy court. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Full disclosure: This article contains a reference to Sickweather Inc. funder TEDCO, which is a Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder client. That relationship is unrelated to this report.
Go to Sickweather.com and you’ll see a stark black message against a blank white background: “404 Not Found.”

That much is perhaps expected now that Sickweather Inc., the Baltimore-area company that promised tech to better track the spread of illness and disease, has officially filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

According to documents filed with Maryland’s federal bankruptcy court, the company’s liabilities tallied just under $438,482. This sum was over 15 times the $27,500 the company claimed in assets — in other words, Sickweather owed its creditors far more than it had on hand.

Those creditors include Amazon Web Services, with the largest credit at $126,419; the state-backed investment vehicle TEDCO, with an unspecified amount; the law firm Venable LLP, which claimed about $89,250 in legal fees; and TeraCrunch, a Kansas City-area firm providing AI- and machine learning-driven data analytics services.

Sickweather was founded about a decade ago in the Baltimore area before expanding its operations into the Kansas City, Missouri region and California. Other Baltimore-area creditors included Bonsal Capital, Mobtown Studios co-creator Emily Leffler-Schulman and Grit Capital Partners founder Paul Palmieri — all of whom had unspecified amounts of debt or equity interest, per the bankruptcy filing.

TEDCO Chief Marketing Officer Tammi Thomas declined to comment to Technical.ly on how much the organization had in liabilities with Sickweather.

The Baltimore Business Journal (BBJ) noted in its Dec. 15 report that Sickweather filed for bankruptcy despite having raised around $2 million in its lifetime, implementing its cold- and flu-tracking tech with the Weather Channel’s digital properties, and reporting a 2021 revenue of $173,250.

In part, a cautionary tale of what can happen when a startup is gutted of its entire founding team.

It wasn’t until the BBJ’s report that Graham Dodge, Sickweather’s cofounder and former CEO who now leads both the PathCheck Foundation and the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, even learned about the bankruptcy. But the entrepreneur told Technical.ly via email that he’d heard from board members about a year ago, when a prior CEO had left, that they were looking for a buyer. Despite his introductions to prospective buyers, nothing seemed to come of it and he heard nothing back.

“Prior to that I hadn’t received any updates whatsoever following my resignation, which was frustrating as a shareholder, and so I had no insight into how things were going,” added Dodge, who told the BBJ that he left the CEO post in 2019 after pressure from investors who pushed him to grow Sickweather more quickly.

Despite this lack of communication, Dodge said that he did not see any signs that the company was going to go bankrupt in the years since his departure. Moreover, he does feel like the company’s assets and IP could be salvageable.

“[I believe this] especially seeing who the creditors are, which appear to be mostly professional services and hosting companies — which, in my experience, can all be negotiated,” Dodge said. “And I do think the patent and various trade secrets remain valuable and useful in light of the global pandemic. Some of the patent claims are fairly broad.”

Dodge added that he thought the bankruptcy’s surrounding circumstances “are, in part, a cautionary tale of what can happen when a startup is gutted of its entire founding team.”

Neither cofounder James Sajor nor former CEO Laurel Edelman, whose LinkedIn shows that she left Sickweather in February 2022 before taking a senior director position with GE Healthcare, immediately returned LinkedIn messages requesting comment on the bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies require a government-appointed trustee to oversee the liquidation of assets, whose sale will be used to pay back creditors. Neither that trustee — managing director Charles Goldstein of 3Cubed Advisory Services — nor Sickweather’s bankruptcy attorney Michael Selba of Baltimore firm Tydings & Rosenberg LLP immediately returned Technical.ly’s requests for comment.

Companies: Sickweather
People: Sickweather / Graham Dodge
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