In Crowded Field, Cariloop Helps Families Find Care for Elders

6/6/14Follow @angelashah

As our population ages, more and more of us must grapple with the question: What’s the best way to take care of Mom and Dad? One Dallas area medtech startup says it can help us wade through the tens of thousands of available options.

Michael Walsh, co-founder and CEO of Cariloop, a healthtech startup based in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, TX, says it has created a technological “marriage of Match.com and Expedia for the senior space.”

The site has compiled a database from state regulatory bodies of senior care providers—from adult care to long-term residential facilities—that customers can peruse through a question-and-answer survey that whittles down the options by need. For example, you start out by indicating whether the services are for yourself or a family member. You go through the survey, answering whether the person wants to be in a facility or cared for at home, and whether the person is paying through government programs, private money, or both.

As you make these choices, Cariloop is adjusting the list of care providers that best meet your needs, Walsh says. “We have updated the user experience with pricing, reviews, and photos, like you would have when you’re looking for a hotel,” he added. “We have brought those experiences—that you have in other areas of your life—into healthcare.”

Cariloop went live in March and this week raised $400,000 in seed money in a round led by Green Park & Golf Ventures, a Dallas investment firm, and Fort Worth, TX-based Corbett Capital.

So far, Cariloop has signed up 300 providers, a small fraction of the total of 9,500 senior care providers in Texas alone. But Walsh says that the funding will be used to make hires who will contact providers and beef up the database. “The more content we have, the better we can match,” he says.

Getting your head around the options available for senior care can be difficult. In 2012, about 58,500 paid, regulated long-term care services providers served about 8 million people in the United States, according to a Centers for Disease Control report released in January. Those services came from a variety of agencies, including adult daycare centers, home health agencies, hospices, nursing homes, and assisted living communities. And as the number of Americans needing such care grows—the CDC says that figure will rise from 15 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050—targeting your best options will become even more important.

It’s a market that’s gotten plenty of other entrepreneurs’ attention as well. Among the most established companies is Seattle-based A Place for Mom, which was founded in 2000 and has 18,000 providers in its network. A quick perusal of the site shows listings by city or zip code but does not break down each facility by type of service. (An “eldercare advisor” would do that by phone, the site says.) A Place for Mom initially attracted investment by Battery Ventures and was acquired by Warburg Pincus in 2010.

Another company, San Mateo, CA-based Caring.com, was founded in 2007 and raised more than $23 million from investors such as Intel Capital and Shasta Ventures. It was acquired by Bankrate for $54 million last month.

All the activity is part of a larger embrace of technology in healthcare, whether it’s to help doctors and nurses better follow protocols in treating patients in urgent care situations, use big data to find genetic clues to fight cancer, or leverage battlefield experiences for use back home.

Walsh admits it’s early days for Cariloop but says that the site’s main advantage is the ability for users to search by specific features desired, such as level of care and services needed. That’s as opposed to other companies in the field, he says “Competitors collect your information and forward it to as many local providers that might be a match for you,” Walsh says. “That could be just a few—or could be 20 or 30. This means that your family could be getting 20 to 30 phone calls all trying to schedule a tour, which can be a pain in the butt.”

Though the site technically includes four states—through one city each in Arizona, Illinois, and California—Cariloop is focusing on the Texas market at first. “We’re building slowly, from the ground up,” he says.

The startup operated in beta mode last year and was part of the Tech Wildcatters accelerator’s first class in Dallas. Like most of its competitors, Cariloop makes its money through referral fees from providers, anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on whether Cariloop simply passes on the lead or brings them a contract, Walsh says.

By digitizing much of the search process, Cariloop tries to keep costs low without alienating its customers. The senior cohort is increasingly tech-savvy, Walsh says, and at ease with the type of search functions on a hotel or airfare site. Certainly, he adds, their children and grandchildren are.

“The average age of our user is between 35 and 55,” Walsh says. “They are lot more comfortable with the technology product that we have.”

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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