New App by Houston Entrepreneur Serves as Digital Health Passport

Michael Anthony
New App by Houston Entrepreneur Serves as Digital Health Passport

LAST YEAR AFTER the lockdowns closed his bars, The Commoner and The Boulevardier, entrepreneur and principle of the Hospitable Viking hospitality group, Carson Hager, turned to what he knows best: software development. Before getting into the food and bev biz, Hager was one of the founders of a software company called Cynergy, which he subsequently sold to KPMG.


"I knew before we would be able to reopen, we needed some reasonable way to verify that people had been tested and tested negative," says Hager. "That is how SafeFun was born."

SafeFun is a digital health passport that lets users share their Covid test results and vaccine records with their social network. The app initially launched in September, but has taken on new relevance now that we are in the midst of a widespread vaccine rollout.

Hager says that when he first looked into the idea, what he found was a system of Covid-19 testing was a morass of different formats, hundreds of thousands of testing centers, and even fraud. "As I dug into it, it became even more complicated. But he and his team were determined to get it right, especially in the light of the destruction that the pandemic and lockdowns have wrought on small businesses like his own. "We started in May and launched in September, sometimes putting in 16-hour days for days at a time." he says.

Carson Hager

While the intention was to help businesses, Hager got a lot of feedback that people were just as interested — perhaps even moreso — in using it to socialize with friends and family. Hager, who is single, also noticed that many people he knew wanted to use it to go on dates.

Today, SafeFun is being used for all of these purposes. How it works is simple: You download the app, register, upload a recent negative Covid-19 test result, and you're ready to go. Get your friends and family in your social network to register, and you can share results and socialize more safely.

Hager says that at present, the number of users is growing organically, and he's talking to several large companies and institutions about implementing the app as a means of monitoring who has been recently tested or vaccinated. "A big challenge is that while we can get test results, most vaccination records are not digitized, so we are still waiting for that to happen." Until it does, the promise for the app to serve as a kind of "vaccination passport" won't be met.

In the meantime, Hager emphasizes that the app is not foolproof. ("We are a comfort mechanism, not a safety mechanism," he says.) But he also hopes that people will implement it into their lives to help them all get a little bit closer to normal.

"Let's face it," he says, sounding a bit more than playful, "meeting on Zoom or even going for a walk standing six feet apart does not really feel like going on a date."

Ancient French Wellness Cures Reimagined at Houston’s Escape Spa: The Power of Vichy

Serial entrepreneur and spa visionary LeBrina Jackson

NESTLED IN THE heart of France, the town of Vichy holds a rich history in the world of wellness and hydrotherapy. Acquiring fame for their alkaline springs in the 17th century, the Romans were among the first to recognize the therapeutic benefits of the springs. They established a French spa known as “Vichy,” which still exists today and continues to attract spa-goers from around the world to experience the transformative effects of hydrotherapy.

Keep ReadingShow less

Slushies at Fuzzy's

IT’S OFFICIAL: THE long holiday that kicks off summer arrives this weekend, and Houstonians are due. Getting hungry, thirsty, and ready for some R&R? Whether you want to grill at home, start with casual brunch, or hit a Memorial Day celebration to honor our veterans, we’ve got you covered.

Keep ReadingShow less
Food

David Robertson

AS HOUSTON SLOWLY recovers from last week’s severe derecho, it is strangely serendipitous that on May 25 and 26, a little over a week after that unexpected drama, the Houston Symphony will perform composer John Adams’ critically acclaimed Nativity oratorio El Niño, named after the 1997 meteorological phenomenon and precursor to what we now refer to as “weird weather.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment