One in a series of stories introducing the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 cohort – check back all week for more and find the series here.
We’re all getting older – and someone’s going to need to take care of us.
According to the 2010 census, the largest segment of the U.S. population is now aged 65 and older, and this segment is growing at a faster rate than the general population. Every state also saw an increase in the number of residents aged 85 and older.
Meanwhile, with more women in the workplace, more care for both the oldest and youngest members of the family is being outsourced.
Care Academy, a Boston-based startup that recently joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 class, plans to train this new wave of caregivers.
“I assumed that if somebody was going to go in to another person’s home, to take care of a loved one, that they would have at least some basic skills. There’s a lot of literature out there, that says really basic techniques can help prevent falls and other accidents,” said Madhuri Reddy, co-founder of Care Academy. “I was just shocked to learn that caregivers, paid caregivers, require no such training at all. There’s no standardization…I thought, ‘this is just crazy.’”
“This whole profession of caregiving is limited by this lack of educational standards,” she added.
Care Academy offers online classes on a variety of topics, from baby sign language to nutrition. Nannies and caregivers can earn a certification by completing enough classes, or agencies that place caregivers can offer the training to their workers.
Helen Adeosun, a former teacher and nanny, founded Care Academy after seeing the need for caregiver education firsthand. She spent a summer nannying for two children on the autism spectrum, and though she said the experience was rewarding, it was also very challenging.
“They [the parents] were like, ‘you’ve been a teacher before, you can totally do this job, we trust you.’ They were really struggling, and I was too,” Adeosun said. “There’s no way, and it should not be the case, that a caregiver could walk into a home and not know what they’re doing.”Adeosun told the origin story of SitterCycle at a TedX event
She started the company, then called SitterCycle, in 2012 and was accepted to an accelerator called MassChallenge in Boston the next year. Since then, SitterCycle raised more than $100,000 in private investments, she said, and inked a partnership deal with UrbanSitter that connected them to thousands of nannies.
Adding elder care and changing the name to Care Academy represents an evolution of the company, with a broader focus.
Reddy, a doctor with an emphasis in geriatric care, was added as a co-founder late last year.
“We both saw the need for this caregiver education in our own spaces,” Reddy said. “We were lucky enough to meet, and click, and realize this is something we can make better together.”
Although the startup has previously had success in both fundraising and partnerships, the co-founders believe the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s programming will help take them to the next level. With an expanded team, they are looking forward to working intensively together.
“Our company is at a really great inflection point right now,” said Adeosun. “I love that idea of the Midwestern work ethic…we were looking for a very special place to have that level of focus and attention.”
They are also looking forward to more focused interactions with the ISA’s staff and network of mentors. At MassChallenge, they were in a class of 128 startups, as opposed to the ISA’s nine.
“That’s something we really appreciate about Iowa,” Adeosun said. “It’s a great family to be a part of, and it means that we’ll get more personalized attention.”
One in a series of stories introducing the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 cohort – find the rest here.