Honor, a startup focused on caring for the country’s aging population, is giving away $1 million in free care to seniors and is opening across the San Francisco Bay Area today.
At an event on aging at the White House this morning, Honor CEO Seth Sternberg is announcing plans to bring $1 million in free care to 10 cities across the United States. The company sends workers to homes of the elderly to help them with tasks ranging from basics like companionship, eating and cleaning to caring for more complex medical conditions.
“Seniors spend $1 trillion a year in America and it’s been the most under-innovated space,” Sternberg said. “There has effectively been no effort writ large on making the process of aging better and it stems from this belief that innovation comes from technology and seniors don’t use technology.”
Sternberg, who previously sold chat startup Meebo to Google, became interested in elder care after wondering about how to care for his own mother on the other side of the country in Connecticut. Most of the growth in the country’s senior population in the years ahead will happen in suburbs, which may lack the density to support services for the elderly. Sternberg’s goal is to let people age in their homes, with care that comes to them, instead of sending them to retirement homes.
He started with a pilot in Contra Costa County, which is just to the east of San Francisco, and raised $20 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz. In a rarity for the venture firm, Marc Andreessen joined the company’s board. Just two months later, a competing company out of Southern California called HomeHero said it had raised $23 million in funding too.
Customers of Honor spend $25 an hour to send the company’s CarePros to an elderly person’s home for anything from physical activity to bathing and housekeeping. Honor has built in extra tools to make the process more transparent and efficient. There’s an app for CarePros that lets them know about the customer’s conditions ahead of time.
“This is novel,” Sternberg said. “Usually, care workers are sent in blind. But now we can tell them what customers would like to have done today.” There’s also an app for family members too that lets them know when CarePros are visiting or how their relatives are doing.
The $1 million in free care the company is donating will be split evenly between the Bay Area and nine other regions, which are yet to be announced.
It’s been a learning process for the company, Sternberg said. Elder care involves many tough moral and professional situations, such as having an elderly, dying customer pass away or discovering elder abuse (both of which have happened).
“We get a lot of e-mails to the effect of, ‘You were able to provide care when I was not able to be there.’ That’s a sentiment that runs very strongly throughout families,” Sternberg said.