Welcome to the second edition of the Agetech News Roundup, a monthly recap of the latest happenings in the world of technology for older adults. Below you'll find summaries of the latest Agetech financings, product announcements, and events. My name is Max Zamkow and I'm a coordinator for Aging2.0 New York and a partner at Third Act Ventures, a venture firm that invests specifically in startups working to make life better for older adults and their caregivers.
Hims becomes a Unicorn with $100mm Series C
While its marketing skews millennial, the DTC brand that delivers products for erectile dysfunction and hair loss is certainly serving more older adults than 20-somethings. The company is currently locked in a capital raising war with Ro (formerly Roman) which recently raised $88mm to compete on marketing spend and expand into smoking cessation. With both companies less than 3 years old and growing rapidly, this fight looks eerily similar to the ridesharing wars. The question is: will they be able to retain customers cost-effectively or spend each other into the ground? Stay tuned.
Exiting from Incubation, CareLinx acquires Optimal Aging
Optimal Aging, which was still being incubated by Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH), was purchased by CareLinx for an undisclosed amount. Its platform helps older adults access non-medical care services like laundry, pet care, bathing assistance, and grocery shopping. While still in development the Optimal Aging platform coordinated care services for more than 6,700 older adults and showed a significant reduction in post-discharge hospital readmissions.
CareLinx had been working closely with PSJH for over 3 years before making the purchase. They plan on using the Optimal Aging platform to strengthen its offering to Medicare Advantage payers seeking out hospital readmission solutions.
NurseDash Wins Village Capital investment & finds traction in Senior Living
NurseDash, the online platform that’s replacing staffing agencies by more efficiently filling temporary shifts, won Village Capital’s peer-selection process and received an investment from the firm and its partner ETS. By allowing licensed clinicians to pick up extra shifts at their convenience, they hope to alleviate the caregiver shortage that exists throughout the industry.
Recognizing similar needs in senior living, NurseDash expanded into the industry last October and has already garnered significant interest. “The demand has ramped up very quickly,” says COO Jake Kohl. “It helps illustrate that the need is there and that our solution is working”. Adding fuel to the fire, Charles Turner, the former president of PinPoint Senior Living, has taken an ownership stake and is helping the company tailor its platform for the industry.
Eversound closes $3mm Series A
Eversound, the company that makes wireless headphones for senior facilities, has closed a $3mm Series A. The round was led by Ron Feinstein, the CEO who took Lifeline Systems to exit several years ago, and also included an investment by my firm Third Act Ventures.
The company has been on a tear, ending its second year of business with a presence in over 400 senior communities. With studies showing that use of the headphones significantly increases resident happiness and engagement, Eversound is particularly well positioned to ride the wellness revolution that is sweeping across facilities.
Canyon Ranch is moving into Senior Living
News of the wellness revolution has swept beyond senior living and reached Canyon Ranch, the luxury wellness and spa retreat brand. Gary Milner, Canyon Ranch’s Chief Development Officer, who spearheaded the brand’s expansion aboard Cunard’s luxury ocean liners, is now focusing his efforts on senior living. The company has already been serving the older demographic with their Encore programming, making the move into senior living “obvious”.
While existing senior living operators are attempting to bolt on a wellness program, Canyon Ranch is coming from the opposite direction, building care into their established wellness brand. It’s a smart play given that right now there are only 2 communities that older adults actually want to move into, Margaritaville & The Villages. Perhaps Canyon Ranch will become the third.
Home Instead invests in GrandPad to enhance in-home care
After nearly a year of negotiations, Home Instead has invested in GrandPad, the maker of tablets designed for older adults. This is Home Instead’s first major tech play after “looking for the right solution for many, many years” according to CEO Jeff Huber.
Initially, the GrandPad tablet will be used to enhance Home Instead’s in-home care. Going forward the companies plan to extend Home Instead’s capabilities with new features like remote care. “Right now, there’s an enormous caregiving demand,” says Huber, “we frankly can’t meet the demand, but technology should allow us to scale things.”
Aetna gamifies health by offering members a “free” Apple Watch
Preventative medicine has always suffered from the “short-term pain, long-term gain” problem, which is why so many health apps were funded during the gamification craze of the early 2010s. None survived however, so Aetna has teamed up with Apple to change that.
Like Oscar’s step-based rewards, members earn points for meeting health goals. However, Aetna’s Apple watch app goes further than just steps, measuring things like calories burnt and amount of sleep while also rewarding users for actions like refilling prescriptions and getting a flu shot. As an incentive, Aetna is giving members a “free” Apple watch provided they collect enough points. If not, they’ll have to pay back the company for the device. It’s a clever carrot-and-stick strategy, let’s hope it’s enough to get people off the couch.
The Europeans are taking notice - Birdie secures €7mm Series A
The Silvertech innovation wave is getting stronger over in Europe. Birdie, an all-in-one home care communication and coordination platform with a sensor-based PERS and telehealth kicker, has raised €7mm from insurance giant AXA and Israel / France based Kamet Ventures. This follows other European Silvertech fundings in the past year, Cera’s $17mm Series A and SuperCarers £3.8mm Seed round.
According to AXA’s Chief Innovation Officer, Birdie’s ambition is to entirely remove nursing homes from the picture, allowing older adults to stay in their home until they pass. It’s a lofty goal and one that’s likely more attainable in European single-payer healthcare systems than it is here. Regardless of how it shakes out, it’s clear that the Silvertech scene is heating up across the pond.