How Papa Is Helping Seniors Throughout Their Aging Journey

By Amit Chowdhry ● October 19, 2019
  • Papa, a company committed to helping seniors throughout their aging journey with “Grandkids on Demand,” announced recently it raised $10 million

Papa — a company that is committed to helping seniors throughout their aging journey by providing “Grandkids on Demand” — announced it has completed $10 million in Series A funding led by Canaan with additional investment from Pivotal Ventures. Pivotal Ventures is an investment and incubation company headed by Melinda Gates. And Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and Sound Ventures (Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary) also reinvested in the round. In conjunction with this funding round, Canaan principal Byron Ling is joining the company’s board.

And Papa also revealed it signed partnerships with multiple large health insurance plans, including Humana, Aetna, Priority Health, and Alignment Healthcare. With this round of funding, Papa will be using the proceeds to expand its services to a broader population of older adults through partnerships with additional insurance plans and employee benefits providers.

Originally, Papa launched in 2016 in order to connect college and nursing students — who are known as “Papa Pals” to older adults who need help with transportation, house chores, technology lessons, and other services. And Papa’s goal is to curb social isolation and loneliness to seniors who lack access to social networks.

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“Our mission at Papa is to end the loneliness epidemic among seniors by connecting two distinct generations – energetic, enthusiastic college students, and older adults in need of companionship and assistance,” said Papa founder and chief executive officer Andrew Parker. “The idea behind Papa came from an experience my family had helping my aging grandfather, who we called Papa. We hired a college student to assist him and provide social interaction. Since then, we have grown rapidly, filling a massive void in care for seniors who want to live independently and need some support, which previously had no obvious solution. The Series A funding and our partnerships with insurance providers will allow us to expand and support more older adults with a positive experience.”

Papa Pals go through a rigorous screening and training process before getting matched to seniors enrolled in the program. After being enrolled, Papa provides the technology for both groups to manage their experience, including a member app that enables seniors and their caregivers to request visits along with an app for Papa Pals to track and manage visits. Plus Papa’s logistics platform includes an administrative tool for managing its members, onboarding new Papa Pals, and managing the billing.

“Papa is an early leader in the elder tech field, developing a truly unique solution to the loneliness epidemic,” added Alexis Ohanian Sr., co-founder and managing partner at Initialized Capital. “Initialized was an early investor in Papa and we continue to be impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity of Andrew and the Papa team. We’re inspired by their efforts to bring the benefits of digital healthcare to an older generation of Americans all over the United States.”

Currently, Papa is available in 14 states, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. And the company plans to expand to a total of 25 states in 2020.

“A broad, diverse, and growing number of stakeholders and policymakers recognize that Social Determinants of Health like loneliness are important to health outcomes,” explained Caraline Coats, VP, Bold Goal and Population Health Strategy at Humana. “We’re very excited to partner with Papa to further review how this type of intervention may be beneficial to members in our Medicare Advantage markets. We know that living conditions significantly influence health outcomes, and Papa is both helping seniors improve their day-to-day lives while also providing relief to the family members who help care for them.”

Along with its insurance plan partners, Papa also announced it partnered with employee benefits provider New Benefits. And through this partnership, employees can enroll in Papa and use the service to provide care to the older adults in their families.

“Papa is using technology to create a new class of caregiving that empowers the lives of seniors through enhanced mobility, reduced loneliness, and greater autonomy. With a novel approach that connects seniors with vetted and trusted talent seeking flexible employment, Papa’s platform allows health plans and families to impact health outcomes while radically improving the day to day lives of seniors,” commented Ling. “Andrew and the Papa leadership team are pioneering the elder technology market, a category of products and services being built today that will represent a paradigm shift in how seniors and their families live tomorrow.”