Adam Greene, CEO and founder of Klaatch
“I have a very strong belief that tech is a means, not an end. What do I mean by that? I don’t believe most people can make relationships through that world, but they can support relationships very effectively that begun outside of it.”
Meet Adam Greene. Adam is a recovering investment banker with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur. He was a founding partner at Marathon Capital, the leading investment bank in the renewable energy sector and has broad expertise in finance, management, restructuring, strategy and capital raising.
Adam founded Klaatch in response to his father’s chronic loneliness following the death of his wife. To better minister to his dad, he became an expert on social isolation and loneliness and its effects on older adults. When he mentioned that he was interested in working on this problem to his father’s geriatric coordinator, she urged him to go forward. Klaatch, then, seeks to end the staggering burden of loneliness among older adults and on the healthcare system that cares for them.
Adam is committed to “Tikkun Olam,” the Jewish concept of repairing the world, and to being ever more open minded about finding ways to make us all feel more connected. He is also a Board member of CBE Refugee Task Force which provides direct assistance and political advocacy for immigrants and refugees from around the world, and also works with Ruth’s Refuge.
Adam speaking at a “Transition to Founder” panel this past October.
Adam is a self-described sports fiend: “I love to play, love to watch.” You can follow Klaatch via its Website and contact Adam via LinkedIn or our Slack.
What Does He Do?
Adam is the CEO and founder of Klaatch. Klaatch’s core offering is a twelve-week coach-led small group peer-to-peer prompted and directed conversation that restores normal socialization behavior.
“Our eight pilots have shown that our program reduces loneliness, is fun and engaging and that normal socialization behavior continues long after the program ends. Klaatch is not a support group, and it’s not a current events group – it is a unique style group where a coach structures and guides the conversation through questions and prompts and allows each participant time to speak and time to reflect. The group is for and about the participants. The coach is there to enable the group to stay focused and to enable connection. The Klaatch group offers a safe place for older adults to come together without judgment.”
How Did He Get Into This Work?
If Adam is partial to any particular figure in scripture, it’s Isaiah: “He’s the original Social Justice Warrior! In passage 58:5-8 of the New Testament Isaiah points out the hypocrisy of his peers and stands up for workers’ rights.”
Adam grew up in the 70’s/80’s on Long Island. While we have our stereotypes that the area is well-represented by Jews – this wasn’t the case for Northport. “I was one of eight Jewish kids out of 800 in both elementary and middle school. When I was in first grade I used to get beaten up every day; I learned how to fight back in second grade. For Adam’s parents, their synagogue – The Northport Huntington Jewish Center — was the center of their civic life. Being an outsider gave Adam an understanding of what it means to be othered and it has informed his path for the rest of his life. It saw him involved in the apartheid issue during college, and informs his work with refugees, as well as Klaatch, to this day. At the core of his Jewish education was a striving to be an ethical person. Even when he was an iBanker he picked his battles – speaking up even when it threatened financial losses.
After Adam’s mother passed away his father was unable to form new relationships. He was experiencing dementia, which brought its own set of problems. Adam began doing his own deep dive into research around group dynamics and making friends and came across the work of researchers such as John Cacioppo and Bill Rawlins. After becoming a subject matter expert himself, he decided to leave the investment bank he co-founded and dive into the startup world to facilitate “meaningful connections” for older adults.
How Did He Come To Civic Hall?
“For me… I couldn’t start this business without it.”
Adam met his then co-founder Meli Glenn while working with refugees. It was she who suggested that they apply to Civic Hall’s CivicXcel accelerator back in the fall of 2017. “We applied for and were accepted into CivicXcel, a 6-month accelerator to help startups use design thinking and iterative learning to build solutions at the nexus of social impact and technology.”
The two found the experience intense. “Because we were working full-time on Klaatch, we could really take on the assignments. How do you start with an idea? Test it? Figure where you were wrong? Test it in an organized way? Not that many people go through that process. Mostly, they build a product and then foist upon the marketplace. I believe having gone through this process is our secret weapon.”
Even though the program concluded in early 2018, Adam loved the community and has remained in our midst.
What project is he working on?
Klaatch is poised to scale in 2020. “We’re hoping to really expand the number of people we’re piloting with.” With the support of the AARP Foundation it will offer “Telephone Klaatch” to some 400 people across the country over the next few years – specifically tailored for rural residents (50% of older, rural adults do not have access to broadband) and for those who are unable to easily leave their home. Its partners for this initiative are Durot and Chicago-based Mather Lifeways Weisel.
As Klaatch builds out and tests its platform, it is being advised by a trio of Civic Hall data titans, including Taylor Ourada (who is developing templates); Elana Duffy; and Cathy Richards. This formidable brain trust is helping Klaatch leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) and other analytics to benchmark what it’s calling the Social Quotient, a measure of connectedness between communities and individuals. Klaatch believes that it’s the first analytics platform to give insight into personality and behavior and to measure changes in socialization from an intervention.
What is he reading/ watching/ listening to?
Adam is currently pouring over Mindfuck by Christopher Wiley, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower. His takeaway reflects his idealism: ‘I think we can use the same tools they used for malevolent purposes to identify those in need of services, improve our understanding of the connection between personality and behavior, create better behavior change solutions and to more objectively measure program effectiveness.”
What is his ask for Civic Hall?
Ask: Klaatch has had some success running a pilot with fellow Civic Hall member New York Veterans Alliance, in conjunction with the AARP Foundation. “Turns out they loved coming here – a place not associated with the V.A. or a hospital — just a normal setting. Beyond the NYVA, how can we make Civic Hall more accessible to Veterans?”
Offer: Adam believes that collaboration is the best means to drive the adoption of new products and technology, and to drive innovation. “The healthcare market is complex and unique. I would like to connect more with other members who work in and around the healthcare market space, and/or have services for older adults.”