Older adults can suffer from extreme loneliness. According to the President of the AARP Foundation, social isolation over time has detrimental consequences that are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and entrepreneurs are taking notice. Uniper Care is the startup that helps older adults age in place, while simultaneously reducing feelings of social isolation through technology. Uniper Care’s multi-modular platform transforms any TV or mobile device into a social assistant that enables older adults to video chat with family and friends, access remote health care, participate in interactive programs, browse photo albums, connect with peer-led groups, and meet new people. From the comfort of their own home, adults can use Uniper Care to partake in fitness classes, memory and mental stimulation exercises, and daily, live interactive lectures. Through its B2B model, Uniper Care partners with health plans, health providers, hospitals, assisted living facilities, non-profits, and government organizations.
LA TechWatch caught up with CEO and Cofounder Rami Kirshblum to learn more about how Uniper Care got its start, focus on growth, and latest round of funding, which brings the total funding raised to $7M across two rounds.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $4M in Seed funding to combat the issue of loneliness and isolation among older adults, marking $7M in Seed funding to date. The funding round was led by Zeev Ventures, a Palo Alto venture capital firm that previously invested in successful high-growth startups like Houzz, TripActions, Hippo Insurance, and Tipalti. Included in the round are Mediterranean Towers Ventures, a strategic investor in early-stage technology companies developing disruptive solutions for aging, and a group of angel investors.
We want to make it possible for every person in the world to age in the place they call home, for as long as they wish for and to lead a happy, healthy, and independent life. Uniper Care is an integrated social engagement and telehealth company on a mission to empower older adults to live powerful lives full of interest and meaning from the comfort of home. Turning any TV or mobile device into Unified Personal social assistant, Uniper Care enables users to video call with family and friends, access remote health care, participate in interactive programs, browse photo albums, connect with live communities, and meet new people from the comfort of any TV, personal computer, smartphone, or tablet. With offices in Los Angeles and Israel, Uniper Care, a HIPAA compliant technology-enabled service, is proven by independent studies to combat isolation, reduce loneliness, and promote a healthy lifestyle among senior adults.
What inspired the start of Uniper Care?
The story begins, with our cofounder and CTO– Meir Schreiber. At the time ( in 2015), Meir was the prime caregiver for his mother, who was in her late 80s. Being a ‘tech-entrepreneur’ for the past few decades, Meir was looking to technology to solve his mother’s problem of being stuck at home, socially isolated, and lonely for hours and even days at a time. Meir found that tablets and other devices didn’t work that well for them and he was looking for things that work. Meir understood that many others must be sharing the same exact problems. For example, how do we connect those who are the hardest to connect? How do we reach the unreachable? How do we allow older adults to keep their independence and allow them to age in the place they call home for as long as they wish for? These questions inspired the start of Uniper Care, where we aim to enable every older adult to age in the place called home – happy, healthy, and independent.
How is Uniper Care different?
Uniper Care transforms a television set or any mobile device into an interactive communication and activity hub where older adults can access live and interactive wellness programs, receive remote health care, and video-communicate with family and friends. The key features of the multi-modular technology-enabled service include:
- Evidence-based programs demonstrated to help flatten the loneliness curve among older adults
- HIPAA-compliant telehealth module that allows older adults to engage remotely with health care professionals using accessible channels like their TV set, tablet, or laptop
- An analytics dashboard that enables health plans and healthcare organizations to assess an individual’s health status, risks, and habits
- A multi-platform, turn-key solution with a whole-person approach to improving Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) for older adults and at-risk population
- Virtual clinical assessments so that medical interventions can mitigate issues at the onset.
- Peer-led groups allowing our users to initiate small group sessions from within the Uniper environment.
We are different because we offer a whole-person approach to addressing health and wellness among older adults. Our programs combat loneliness and isolation while improving social determinants of health through education, accessible telecare, community building, and live connections with communities and friends. We are multi-modular, able to reinvent the way the average person ages, and yet built with simplicity and ease of use in mind.
What market is Uniper Care targeting and how big is it?
Our end users are at 50M Americans who are 65 years old and older. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, making the older adult population even bigger. Studies show 43% of older adults are chronically lonely, and this loneliness has been shown to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The need to solve this problem is urgent, and we are happy to be among the leaders in combating loneliness and isolation among older adults.
In order to reach our end users, Uniper Care partners with health plans, health providers, hospitals, assisted living facilities, non-profits, and government organizations to reduce health care costs for seniors while increasing the quality and accessibility of care.
What’s the business model of Uniper Care?
We currently offer Uniper Care via a B2B business model where we work with organizations to offer the Uniper Care service to their communities. Health Plans, for example, are providing Uniper Care to their older adult members to lower cost and increase revenue, while enabling accessible remote healthcare from the TV set of any mobile device.
Health Plans have ROI and cost-saving opportunities that can be measured either during or post-pilot via Uniper.
Some examples of additional opportunities:
- Quality STAR rating increase (implementing screening, and assessment over Uniper)
- Operational cost saving by telecare (e.g: annual wellness visit, home visits, and more)
- Increase members retention following satisfaction of using Uniper
- Delivering better care based on Uniper s generated risk profile
- Improving HEDIS score using Uniper (e.g. experience of care)
In addition to health plans, community-based organizations, senior care providers, senior living facilities, and home health providers provide much needed mental and physical health support during this difficult pandemic – all virtually – using a HIPAA-compliant platform designed for and by older adults. Families and friends can stay in touch with older loved ones by reaching out via a video call to the TV.
How has the business impacted by COVID-19?
We are experiencing escalating interest in solutions to reduce loneliness and isolation among older adults who are quarantined at home. Given that many older adults will be encouraged to stay at home for the next 6-12 months, and potentially longer, health insurance payers, health providers, non-profits, and organizations serving seniors are looking for innovation to help those who have limited access to the outside world. We stand out because we offer a HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution, in addition to tech-enabled evidence-based services to empower older adults to age healthily, socially, and independently from home. We are responding as quickly as we can to all inquiries and reaching out to as many organizations as we can to spread the word that we have a solution to help. Please reach out to us if you know of organizations that need to hear about Uniper Care.
What was the funding process like?
We found many investors interested in funding fast-growing innovations to help older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because we already have significant traction with customers, and with COVID-19 exacerbating the loneliness and isolation among our target users, raising money for this funding round was quicker than we planned.
The capital will be used to accelerate product development and expand the company’s global sales and marketing efforts. The need to ack quickly resonated well with our investors, enabling us to raise this funding round relatively quickly.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
One of the biggest challenges that we faced while raising capital was having to qualify our investors, similar to having to qualify a sales lead. We wanted to knock on the right doors, and make sure that our investors are not only ready to write a check but also ready to open doors that will facilitate growth. Our goal as a hyper-growth startup is to have the right strategic investors who will partner with us as we expand our presence in the market.
One of the biggest challenges that we faced while raising capital was having to qualify our investors, similar to having to qualify a sales lead. We wanted to knock on the right doors and make sure that our investors are not only ready to write a check but also ready to open doors that will facilitate growth.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
In short, we are a mission-driven company. Every single team member of Uniper cares very much for the problem we are trying to solve, which is how to flatten the loneliness curve among older adults. We are passionate about helping every older adult in the world to thrive in the place he or she calls home: happy, healthy, and independent. We believe our investors shared the same passion, while also seeing strong viability of our business model.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our goals in the next six months are to accelerate product development and expand the company’s global sales and marketing efforts. We want to grow the number of managed care organizations and community-based organizations signed with us. We want to grow and thrive.
We also want to make sure that we have the team and processes in place to enable scalable growth. Building a strong company culture with a diverse, well-balanced team that works well together will be a crucial component of our success.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
It is easier to have funding when you have actual customers using and delighting in your products. The voices of our happy customers are critical elements of our funding success.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We are on the verge of a hockey stick growth. The contracts we closed in the short term will play crucial roles in scaling.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
Melvin’s in West Hollywood.
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