Jonah Liss is doing the opposite of most companies, and finding success. In an effort to help older Americans and those with compromised immune systems, he’s as hands-on as possible in managing his new online platform, Mediumize.
Liss, who turns 17 in early August, founded Mediumize in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His free website, mediumize.com, provides an avenue through which older people and those with compromised immune systems can have groceries and other supplies delivered, or request technological help. While Liss has the know-how to automate the system, he prefers to act as a middleman for every request, pairing those who need help with volunteers based on location.
“My goal has always been to keep the process as manual as possible,” he says.
Liss says many of the older citizens the platform serves aren’t as familiar with technology as their younger counterparts, and they feel better when their requests are answered by a human instead of a bot — which has led to Liss’ hands-on approach.
After clients fill out an online form that asks for their name, contact information, address, service required and items needed, payment logistics, and why they consider themselves high-risk, Liss pairs each up with a volunteer. To sidestep the product search process on grocery order platforms, Mediumize clients can make general requests such as asking for a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk, or they can specify a brand and more.
From there, a volunteer — who’s required to wear a mask and gloves while shopping and delivering any purchases — keeps in touch with the client. The client is able to select a preferred method of payment, ranging from cash to utilizing an online app.
Mediumize also offers help with technology. Clients fill out a form that asks them to list the online service they need help with, and Liss finds a volunteer to contact them and walk them through the process step by step. The service was especially helpful while stay-at-home orders were in place, and technology was the best way to keep in touch with loved ones, Liss says.
The platform also helps coordinate personal protective equipment procurement for front line workers through various community initiatives.
Even after the pandemic, Liss, who is going into his senior year at International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, plans to continue his work with the platform. He works to continue to improve the user experience.
As of early June, Mediumize was available in 151 cities across 18 states and provinces. While clients can tip volunteers, Liss isn’t making money off the platform. “It’s constantly going to be evolving and repurposed, just to be able to help people,” he says.