As tech startups turn toward the healthcare space, one particular segment of the population stands to benefit the most: the elderly. Aging population is one of Singapore’s key demographic problems – 12.4 percent of the city-state’s 5.5 million people were over 65 in 2016, up from 8.4 percent a decade before.
Many of these senior citizens require assistance and care that is not always affordable or easy to come by. Singapore-based Homage wants to help by matching seniors to quality in-home caregivers. Founded in 2016, the startup announced today it has secured a seed round of US$1.2 million.
The funding comes from 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures, and SeedPlus.
Homage carefully vets its care professionals through background checks, certifications, and health screenings.
Homage was founded by Gillian Tee, Lily Phang, and Tong Duong. Previously, Gillian founded coding startup CodeUpstart in San Francisco and Y Combinator-backed travel comparison platform Rocketrip, which has raised US$17.2 million to date.
Upon returning to Singapore, Gillian wanted to start a business on her home turf. Local investors introduced her to Lily. Both have aging parents, so the need to ensure they are well cared for in their old age resonated with them.
“Lily has deep regional experience in healthcare and clinical management in Asia and we have a clinical care operations team I’m proud of, that has over 30 years of combined experience in nursing and clinical operations,” Gillian tells Tech in Asia.
Homage offers personalized home care through its website. Customers can sign up and list their specific needs, and the team assigns them the right caregiver. It carefully vets its care professionals through a selection process that includes background checks, certifications for CPR and caregiver or nurse training, reference checks, and health screenings.
There are also in-person interviews with the startup’s clinical care operations staff. It’s all to make sure it sends the best people out there, which is why at the moment it accepts less than 10 percent of the caregivers who apply, Gillian says.
She adds that Homage has so far delivered more than 10,000 hours of in-home care but doesn’t specify any user or revenue numbers.
Homage will use the fresh funding to improve its matching system that pairs households and seniors with the caregiver that suits their needs. The team wants to “make getting and coordinating care for families so easy that the administrative part of home-based care fades into the background,” Gillian says.
The team feels it’s solving a real need in the community and is confident enough in its offering to start scaling up its operations, hence the timing of the new funding. “We’ve spent most of our time and resources making sure we can provide the type of quality care we can trust our own families with,” she explains.
500 Startups partner Vishal Harnal feels Homage combines a promising business model by an experienced founder and a very personal and pressing need. “I see my own parents get older and I think about them all the time, wondering how I’m going to take care of them – especially given the distance and my own working schedule,” he tells Tech in Asia.
Vishal thinks there’s a lot of room for businesses that can benefit the elderly. “It’s something that’s missing from the Southeast Asia ecosystem and we need young, driven entrepreneurs to start building products and services for this particular demographic,” he adds.
The market certainly seems to be there. Another startup in Singapore that helps connect caregivers to people in need of in-home care is social enterprise Ebeecare.
Homage raised a round of angel funding last year from Singapore-based entrepreneurs, including JobsCentral co-founders Huang Shao-Ning and Lim Dershing, Pieter Walraven of Pie fame, Phey Teck Moh, former president of Motorola Solutions Asia Pacific, and Juha Panaanen of recently shuttered gaming studio Nonstop Games.
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