"When all my friends were applying to college in their senior year, I was really sick. I was misdiagnosed all throughout high school, and doctors didn't know what was wrong with me," Elizabeth Tikoyan, founder of Riley, provides context for the inspiration that motivates her company. "While all my friends were off starting their new journeys, I stayed back to get treatment, and my life was stalled. I felt so alone, and none of my friends understood what it felt like to go through a life-changing illness."
Elizabeth found it incredibly hard to relate to patients around her seeking treatment because they were much older than her. She wanted to create a platform where people can meet others who share similar age, demographic background, passions, and are also going through a similar medical condition and/or disability. Elizabeth understands more than anyone how lonely it can get, so she wanted to do something that would help others going through the same journey.
So, Elizabeth invented Riley. Riley is a social network for people with disabilities and/or medical conditions. Riley is on a mission to change the stigma, and with that, empower users through the power of connecting, sharing and supporting each other.
Through the app, a person fills out a user profile that includes their medical condition, age, gender, location, and whether they are seeking medical advice, companionship, or social advice. The app will then match people with the same condition.
Although other platforms offer services for people with disabilities or medical conditions, Elizabeth explains what makes Riley different, "is that we match you with people going through the same thing as you, who are also looking for friends who get it. We are giving users the autonomy over who they match with."
The Riley app is currently in beta, but Elizabeth plans on launching the app in the fall. "We're just seeing where we get the most traction with our marketing campaign. Once we know a certain population really loves what we are doing, we're going to include that population on our platform."
By the end of the i.Lab, Elizabeth and her team of passionate changemakers, Lauren Holt, Joana Azevedo, Sophie Williams, and Jacob Renner hope to have created a movement. We are excited to change the stigma around people with medical conditions and disabilities by providing a space that allows people to embrace who they are through connecting through stories, struggles and triumphs.
Elizabeth and her team are creating a platform for people that don’t let their disability and/or medical condition stop them from loving themselves, embracing their differences and helping each other throughout their journey. “We hope to create a platform where no one would have to go through their struggles alone, like I did for many years.”
The Riley team: Elizabeth, Joana, Lauren, Sophie, and Jacob