Resilient Business Continues to Connect Senior Clients & Caretakers Amid a Pandemic
Fahrenheit Managing Director, Jay Carpenter recently sat down with Paige Wilson, Founder and CEO of Naborforce to learn how they have changed and adapted their business since the onset of COVID-19. Naborforce connects older adults to a network of “Nabors” for social engagement and on-demand support for errands, transportation and help around the home.
Wilson provided some background by describing how and why her company was created. “We say we’re disrupting the front end of the care continuum, but through (the) experience I had with my own mother when she started aging, I found there were all these little things that I did for her, nothing medical, but I was trying to raise my daughter and balance my career. I was in investment banking at the time. So it was very stressful and I just kept thinking, I need a resource. You know, I’d like to push a button and a trusted person shows up. She didn’t need an aide or a nurse, and she didn’t even want that. She would have fought that because that’s not what she needed. It’s all that little stuff. The call, ‘My remote’s not working.’ Those kind of things that we do for our parents.”
After her mother passed away, she started doing a lot of research. “I had no idea. I was living in the silver tsunami of baby boomers, aging 10,000 a day, every day for the next 10 years and family shrinking and moving away. So that whole sandwich generation was creating all of this. Family is your first line of support as you start to slow down a little bit in your older age. So as I went through that, I came up with a solution which has really like Uber of help for your parents.”
“IT’S ALL ABOUT CONNECTION IN PERSON.”
Empty nesters and retirees in the community looking for connection and purpose can engage with those who need assistance- adults in their 80s and 90s with the services of Naborforce. The connections are managed through an app one hour at a time. “Nabors” are the helpers and work an average of four to eight hours a week. “It’s all about connection in person,” she told Jay.
HOW COVID-19 AFFECTED NABORFORCE’S RAPID GROWTH
“We had been growing double digit(s) month over month since we launched in the fall of 2018. So almost 18 months. Month over month growth. We’d open in a second market and we were getting ready to launch two more markets in the spring. We were getting ready to raise a second round of capital, because the goal is to scale. We put our technology, we built our own platform, had all of that in place. And then COVID,” Wilson explained.
CHANGES WERE IMPLEMENTED TO KEEP CLIENTS & NABORFORCE SAFE
Wilson described how they kept clients and “Nabors” safe, “We obviously immediately had to make a lot of changes. We suspended in-person visits immediately in mid-March. We moved to virtual visits, checking on people by the phone, doing contactless visits, maybe getting their groceries for them, leaving it on the front store step. We also launched a community campaign called “Kindness gram”, which was really enlisting anybody in the community that might have an older person near them or somebody at risk by offering to do things for them. Because we couldn’t reach everybody. And so that was heartbreaking. We knew the clients really needed us, but until people understood how the virus was introduced and transmitted, we really couldn’t do that. So from a business standpoint, since we’re a startup cash is king, and the goal is to survive. We immediately cut staff, cut expenses, reduced our salaries by half and came up with our default live model to make sure we could make our way through this. And then in April, so a full month after half of March, our revenue was down 87% over February. So that was pretty tough, but we were ready for it.”
“Now in June, we started resuming in person visits. We had clients calling us. They had put off doctor’s appointments, they needed help around their home. So we put together a bunch of safety protocols and now we’re back in visiting clients in the home, some are ready for it, others are not. Everybody has their own risk factors and things that are going on. So our revenue is actually coming back quicker than we have projected.” She added that, “I think it’s going to be a bumpy road for at least a year or two.”
RECOVERY & TAKE AWAYS
When describing the recovery after reacting to this pandemic, Wilson said, “In terms of a long term view, we’ve started bringing staff back already to support this. And the long view really is we already knew all of the demographics were so strong in our favor with the aging of America and the shrinking number of family caregivers and the sandwich generation and all of those things. There’s lots of technology coming along. A lot of that has been accelerated because of COVID, but we already knew that people still crave human connection. Even though we were helping with things, it was really the connection.”
Wilson offered that before the COVID-19 onset she would say that nine out of 10 people want to age in their own home versus a senior living facility. She thinks that is more like 9.9 out of 10 now. Naborforce helps seniors stay independent. Related to the whole idea of isolation and loneliness, she explained that, “The healthcare world knew that it takes a toll on people’s health. They say it’s equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Now the whole world knows it. We’ve all felt it.”