HomeHero: A marketplace just for seniors

January 28, 2014: 2:44 PM ET

Founders Kyle Hill and Mike Townsend want to tap into a $40 billion market opportunity with their L.A. startup.


FORTUNE -- Finding and managing a good senior caregiver can be a struggle.

Just ask Kyle Hill and Mike Townsend. When Hill's grandmother in Seattle, Wash. needed a caregiver earlier this year, he and his family spent weeks screening candidates -- many ultimately unqualified -- from their home in Ohio. When they found one, managing the caregiver remotely proved a headache: Hill's father found himself constantly debating with them over hours, asking for updates, and generally worrying about his mom's safety.

The situation prompted Hill and Townsend to take matters into their own hands and launch the Los Angeles-based HomeHero. Like the Waltham, Mass.-based Care.com (CRCM), which went public last Friday, it's an online marketplace for users to connect with personal caregivers. But where Care.com covers the age spectrum -- and even pets -- HomeHero caters exclusively to seniors, with services like shopping, meal preparation, housekeeping, and companionship. The startup is backed by Science Inc., the startup incubator from former MySpace CEO Mike Jones and ex-Color CEO Peter Pham, for an unspecified amount. "We wanted to consolidate a suite of in-home care services into a simple and affordable offering families could use right away," explains Townsend.

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To wit, HomeHero enables users to look at hundreds of listed caregivers who have been rigorously vetted: a process that includes an in-person interview, entrance exam, and background check. Users can search and view caregivers by location, watch their brief introductory videos, and skim reviews. They can also filter caregivers by gender, number of reviews, years of experience, and language skills. Ultimately, the startup plans to generate revenue by taking a small cut from each hire.

Once a user has found a caregiver, HomeHero also serves up features for managing them. Caregivers must clock in and out from a landline phone, give daily summaries via voice recording, and may send emergency alerts to users, also by phone. (Payments are processed automatically.)

Hill and Townsend view the startup with billion-dollar potential. Caregiving is already the fastest growing job in America, Townsend points out, due in no small part to the growing number of aging baby boomers -- a generation between 1946 to 1964 that consists of 76 million Americans. And while HomeHero doesn't focus on the medical side of senior caregiving, the co-founders contend there remains a huge market to be had: 50% of the $80 billion home health market.

HomeHero is launching in the greater Los Angeles area first, but Hill and Townsend plan to launch in a new city every six to eight weeks. Which means they'll have their hands full for the foreseeable future.

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