Our tech start-up of the week is CareZapp, whose technology allows caregivers to create networks of care to support people who require their help with a cloud-based platform for personalising plans.
“Our mission is to transform care at home by connecting home, community and technology, enabling caregivers to create their own network of care to support the health and wellbeing of a loved one at home,” explained CEO and co-founder Andrew Macfarlane.
The company was recently one of the 14 finalist in the Start-up Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 in London.
“Today there is a crisis in care. Both services and caregivers are under huge and increasing pressure and the cost of care is soaring. Driving this growth is an ageing population. Our care systems cannot address the demand.”
Macfarlane pointed out there is a huge amount of informal caregiving in society today.
“There are 125m unpaid family caregivers across Europe and within the UK that number is over 6.5m, growing to 9m in the coming decades. Within Ireland the number is estimated at 275,000 caregivers and growing.
“The opportunity to address this has only recently evolved and sits at the intersection of multi-billion-dollar growth markets across homecare providers, civil society, the internet of things and digital health.”
The CareZapp founders
Macfarlane has 30 years of experience of innovative business creation as a founder/CEO with extensive background in technology businesses. He has been co-founder of a number of start-ups, including GP Clinical, a leading GP practice management system in Ireland which he exited in 2005.
CTO Ed Lenox is a passionate technophile who has worked in the software sector for 20 years. He led the development team at Intrade, which became the world’s leading prediction market.
Head of UX Carl Flynn has more than 15 years of experience in design and development of web-based applications at Diageo and GE, and his own start-up.
CX chief Ron Finegan has an entrepreneurial background with more than 15 years of experience in service delivery and IT industry.
“As a team, we previously worked together in a leading ageing and technology centre, featuring the Louth Living Lab – a unique smart home environment and community of older people and services facing the same problems and challenges,” Macfarlane explained.
The CareZapp solution is designed to provide a range of communication and collaboration tools to enable the creation of care networks, to connect those needing care with caregivers, be they family, friends, neighbours, community-based supports, home-care providers, or social and healthcare professionals.
Replacing the traditional system of emergency response, the CareZapp model is proactive.
It enables early intervention, prevention and continual monitoring of wellness through a unique combination of a private social network, care applications framework and discovery platform – referred to as Connect, Inform, Discover.
CareZapp consists of a free mobile app for caring communications and a cloud-based support platform for managing care groups and personalising care plans to further enhance and ease care at home.
The communication and collaboration tools include messaging and smart reminders, displayed on an online noticeboard (ZappBoard). Alerts can be transmitted via in-app notices, email or SMS. It’s a self-organised, multi-option network of care.
The platform utilises best of breed technologies and an expert partner ecosystem to support and alert you. Care groups can personalise care plans through subscriptions to Care Applications such as: Activity (monitoring daily activities), Wandering (dementia care) and Vitals (feedback on biometrics), while 24-7-365 monitoring supports predictive and preventative services and provides feedback, notifications and alerts to caregivers or third-party call centres.
Caregivers and those being cared for can discover social and support groups, providers of local/regional services, home care, NGOs and other community supports (eg, transport and meals services). Local community, support and social groups, through subscription, can join the CareZapp community network and promote their services to members and receive inward leads or care referrals.
“CareZapp has a vision for a unique networked model of care that can support the millions of people who require or provide care at home,” Macfarlane explained.
“The crisis in home care is intensifying at a frightening rate across the developed world. CareZapp can lead the way in addressing this challenge and build a successful global business.”
CareZapp has been piloted in a number of settings, at one of Dublin’s main hospitals working with Earlsfort eHealthwatch, enabling elderly patients to be discharged back home with remote monitoring, delivering significant service improvements and cost savings.
It has also been deployed in a community-based project with KCoRD, helping people with dementia to remain living at home, and supporting families in their care.
“This week we announced our first major commercial partnership with MyHomeCare, who are set to become the largest home care provider in Ireland. This collaboration will see over 10,000 people utilising CareZapp in the coming year,” Macfarlane said.
Pivot in the right direction
Macfarlane said the start-up originally planned on spinning out of an applied research centre, but this proved unsuccessful.
“All the same, this was fortunate as we pivoted on our ideas and built a new mobile platform based on new customer requirements.
“As a team we bring a lot of previous experience, domain knowledge and understanding. Since founding the company in April, we have been quite focused on the customer’s requirements and have been quick to deliver premium features. We have also been selective in finding the right supports, accelerator and launch event.
“To date, we have been self-funded and via some investment from the CEO. In September, we joined the Bank of Ireland accelerator mainly based on calibre of the mentors and moved to Cork. Getting selected out of 500+ companies for the TechCrunch finals provided the perfect launch pad, with massive exposure and interest.
“Next for CareZapp is to deliver on our new commercial partnerships, a new pilot in the US in Michigan and we are preparing for a seed round investment, which is attracting a lot of investor interest.”
Macfarlane described the local start-up scene in Ireland as vibrant.
“In fact, very vibrant compared to the time when the founders built previous start-ups. While the level of supports and knowledge in the market has seen significant increase, I believe that it needs a much better alignment of supports and co-locations hubs.
“There also needs to be improved incentives to attract more angel/seed and follow-on investment. Otherwise, locations (such as London) that are better aligned will increasingly prove attractive to start-ups that are prepared to move.
His advice to would-be entrepreneurs? “Get out there and do it!”