Los Angeles Business Journal

HomeHero Brings New Life To Elder Care

By Tom Dotan Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The knock on the current boom in tech is that most companies are started by (male) 20- or 30-somethings attempting to solve problems for 20- or 30-somethings. Ergo the handfuls of food delivery startups or laundry pickup services.

HomeHero is the shinning exception to that (possibly unfair) rule. The startup, co-founded by a pair of 20-year-olds and based at Santa Monica incubator Science Inc., is trying to update the world of elder care.

Officially launched today, HomeHero provides a platform for both caregivers and people seeking to hire care.

It’s a topic dear to the startup’s co-founders, Kyle Hill, 27, and Mike Townsend, 26. Both of their families have struggled to hire help for their elderly grandparents. And the process of monitoring that help from a distance has been no easier.

“It’s a mess trying to find caregivers,” said Townsend. “And from a tech perspective, it’s a segment of the market where people don’t really pay much attention.”

The service is divided into two parts: Marketplace and Connect. The former is a listing service where local caregivers can upload profiles along with photos and videos. It’s an alternative to using Craigslist or Care.com, which Townsend and Hill said lack adequate information.

The site performs its own vetting and certifying of caregivers. At launch, HomeHero Marketplace only has listings in the greater Los Angeles area, but already has several hundred profiles on board. There are plans to expand to other cities in the near future.

HomeHero’s deeper technology comes with Connect, which works as a management service. When a caregiver arrives at a person’s house, he or she can clock in using a landline phone that’s linked to a HomeHero account.

At the end of a shift, the caregiver clocks out and can list off the tasks they completed as well as note any specific updates through a recorded message. The messages are automatically transcribed and sent to family.

Connect also offers a payment service, which links up a person’s credit card to a caregiver’s bank account and makes automatic deposits.

The co-founders took pains to bring up their personal connection with the service; Hill and his family have been using HomeHero while caring for his 96-year-old grandmother.

But two are also looking at American society writ large with the service. They point to a recent survey that found the average age of a person moving from a house to a retirement facility has risen to 90 from 74 in the last 30 years. And with the coming wave of baby boomer retirements, the need for children to find ways to take care of aging parents has increased.

“It’s been great to take a new approach to a system that was very stale, very off-line,” Hill said.

As for the stereotype that tech founder are only focusing dude-centric services, they see it from a different angle.

“You build companies based on what you know and what you need,” Townsend said. “For us that was HomeHero.”