Originally published by Home Health Care News on April 12, 2022
Senior care startup DUOS announced Tuesday that it has raised $15 million in a Series A.
The round was led by Imaginary Ventures, with participation from existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Declaration Partners, and a new investor, Optum Ventures.
The $15 million is a significant mark for the company, which sees itself in a new stage after the round, Karl Ulfers, co-founder and CEO of DUOS, told Home Health Care News.
“DUOS, from a seed round perspective, had tremendous investors between Redesign Health and Forerunner, but that round was more in the $6 million range,” he said. “It was a great round. It propelled us to where we are today, but this Series A is definitely our most substantial round to date.”
Launched in 2021, New York-based DUOS helps place expert personal assistants — “Duos” — into the homes of seniors. The company works directly with consumers, as well as with payer and provider organizations.
The recently raised capital is earmarked for fueling both the company’s technology advancements and growth plans, Ulfers said.
“The funding itself will be used to continue to build out our incredible team from a product engineering and design standpoint,” he said. “In terms of what we’re focused on with them, we really want to be a leader in technology for the older adult and caregiving space.”
Specifically, DUOS will put funds towards two key areas.
One of these areas is taking the tools the company has built to allow its “Duos” assistants to help seniors and externalizing these capabilities so that family caregivers can also tap into them through an app. The second area has to do with the company’s partnerships.
“We see this awesome opportunity in terms of the services that we tap into — so think of transportation, think of scheduling appointments, think of helping arrange meals, helping with things around the older adult’s home,” Ulfers said. “We are actively adding partners into our business that will allow us to integrate them into our technology to go the final mile.”
As a relatively new company, DUOS has already begun making headway when it comes to making those partnerships.
It has formed relationships with a number of health insurance plans, including Magellan Healthcare, Geisinger Health Plan and other national and regional payers and providers in California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Georgia.
DUOS’ value-add to its partners is its ability to fulfill the needs of seniors in the wake of Medicare Advantage’s expansion of home-based supplemental benefits and Medicare’s creation of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
“What that ultimately drives for our plan partners is a direct impact relative to their star ratings, as well as their overall satisfaction with their members, to help retain them in their Medicare Advantage plan,” Ulfers said.
On its end, Ulfers calls these partnerships “mission-critical” to the company’s overall growth. They also give the company a broader reach and impact.
“These partnerships pay for our services and then allow us the ability to directly market and activate older adults, as well as their caregivers that are in need of our services,” he said. “If we didn’t have these partnerships, the only other angle we’d have is our direct-to-consumer model. That’s just a far harder model in terms of growing and scaling the business versus striking these large and strategic partnerships.”
While many startups have entered the senior care market purporting to be “disrupters” in the space, DUOS ultimately views its position in the industry as the “connective tissue.”
“We like to think of ourselves as coming into this space to act as the additional connective tissue that will really unleash a lot of the existing services that have been there for older adults that maybe weren’t easily utilized,” Ulfers said.