These Founders Want Their Online Caregiver Training To Be The Industry Standard: CareAcademy On Mogul Watch

Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
Written by Ebony Grimsley-Vaz

Americans are living longer and affordable healthcare is becoming more urgent for older adults.

The number of U.S. residents age 65 and older is expected to increase by 105 percent between 2015 and 2060, according to a 2018 U.S. Census projections.

Families with seniors who want to remain at home often need help. Caregivers include nonpaid family and friends as well as formal caregivers.

Entrepreneurs Helen Adeosun and Dr. Madhuri Reddy co-founded
CareAcademy, which provide training resoucrs for elder caregivers. They’re creating content and using technology to get a piece of the caregiver industry, valued at more than $470 billion, according to Caregiver.org and estimates from the American Association of Retired Person (AARP).

CareAcademy has raised around $3.2 million from angel investors, starting early on it was an idea in grad school. Now it has institutional investors as well.

We realized we weren’t generating any revenue from the childcare content whereas the elder care content was booming.

Helen Adeosun, co-founder of CareAcademy, an online and mobile training resource for caregivers.

 


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CareAcademy was founded in 2016 as an online and mobile training resource for caregivers. Focusing on caregiver agencies, Adeosun and her team provide video-based, real-world scenarios in an online education environment for busy professionals.

While a caregiver doesn’t need a college degree, states require training and many have regulations surrounding education. There is a benefit in learning the appropriate way to care for others in a more formal setting.

Dr. Madhuri Reddy, left, and Helen Adeosun Co-founders of CareAcademy. Photo Credit: FOUNDERSWIRE

The healthcare industry has acknowledged CareAcademy’s work. Accolades include being named a Kaiser Permanente 2018 U.S. winner, MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Challenge Grand Prize Winner and a finalist in the AARP Foundation Aging in Place contest.

Adeosun spoke with Moguldom about how being in an accelerator helped her company pivot to focus solely on senior care and how CareAcademy may be a solution to set industry standards.


Initially, as the founders, we did every single job at CareAcademy and I make a point to say that anytime we interview someone. It’s like, “Hey, this is what I was able to do. How can you do better?”

Helen Adeosun, co-founder of CareAcademy, an online and mobile training resource for caregivers.

Moguldom: What has been a memorable challenge in starting CareAcademy?

Helen Adeosun: I started the company in 2012 while I was in grad school and initially it was focused on childcare. Later we decided to position ourselves in two different fields by also focusing on the senior adult homecare industry as well. However, in 2016 we made a pivot mainly from a financial standpoint. What we eventually learned was the amount of content for early childhood training was more limited than eldercare. We were challenged to really think about growth and the resources we had to produce profits. The answer on which way to go became clear when someone at a large company who had championed us into bringing in childcare content to their business left the company. This reduced our potential for sales greatly. We were forced to make a decision on what we would focus on and we chose elderly care and it paid off. We experienced growth after we pivoted the company. And now we are at a head count of about 15 people as opposed to just one or two people.

Moguldom: You said something I think is critical that a lot of entrepreneurs miss. You said you pivoted. You changed course and that is not something many entrepreneurs do.

Helen Adeosun: I think there’s a different mentality when you are building a company or a startup in a place that does not have as many resources. When you’re resource constrained, you have to be much more creative. We were fortunate enough to get into Iowa Startup Accelerator. We went out there for a three-month program. One of the first mentors we met said, “Hey, you guys are smart. You’re going to build something that’s valuable, but you’ve got to pick.”

The entire program we had experts who were holding us accountable to metrics to see what was working. When we did, we realized we weren’t generating any revenue from the childcare content whereas the elder care content was booming. We knew we had to make some changes.

In childcare, it’s an industry built around the critical years of zero to 5. So you’ve got a five-year window to actualize services. Elder adult care is very different. People are living longer. Plus, at the same time, Obamacare came around and was trying to find ways of reducing healthcare costs. Part of those costs would need to be alternatives to eldercare because older adults are staying at home longer than before. Those caregivers would need training as well. Training for the caregivers would need to be efficient and cost-effective. We built some classes and saw a large interest in providing education for these type of caregivers. The metrics showed us there is a great need for our services. So pivoting was a must and a great decision for us.

Moguldom: What do you think are some of your notable wins?

Helen Adeosun: We have had so many notable wins and lots of things for which I’m grateful. I feel as though I could almost cry when I think about how far we’ve come. The biggest win I think about is customer traction. And you know, for us, the proof’s in the pudding. If people like what you do and they find value in it, they’ll buy it. Another win for us is how efficient we are versus our competitors. For a client to pick us over a competitor is a huge win and a huge boost of confidence. It’s not just that we were able to find success initially, but were able to repeat that success with a major customer. We’re super blessed. I think another one is from an impact side. We imagine in the world beyond providing content and training focus, upskilling. We want to be the foremost gateway to healthcare jobs.

Moguldom: How much have you raised in funding?

Helen Adeosun: Altogether, without grant funding we’ve raised around $3.2 million. We have had some amazing and very dedicated angel investors since very early on when CareAcademy was an idea in grad school. We also have institutional investors who’ve invested in CareAcademy.

Moguldom: What are your thoughts on building a good team?

Helen Adeosun: It’s the most important thing you as the founder can ever do. You need a team of folks who can execute and who believe in the products and services you provide. You need people who can produce and you can trust alongside of you. I’m forever grateful for the team I have because I have always tried to find folks who have the balance of the moral center and the integrity and the passion for what we do here. Those who will stick it out with us with the crazy hours and the worst days, but also find people who are extremely good at what they do. Initially, as the founders, we did every single job at CareAcademy and I make a point to say that anytime we interview someone. It’s like, “Hey, this is what I was able to do. How can you do better?” And I have found folks who are exponentially better at doing whatever their respective field is here at CareAcademy. Much better than I or Madhuri have done.

Moguldom: What do you do to keep the creativity flowing to create the best products and services for the clients?

Helen Adeosun: I really thank and credit our CTO for helping us to create great products. I think he’s excellent. In his previous work, he was a product person. I never lacked in vision or creativity, but he taught me very early on the discipline of talking to customers. I thought I was good at talking to customers until he came. He makes it a point to spend hours and hours of time speaking with our current customers or prospective customers. There is such a huge value in really listening and taking in and interrogating our own assumptions about what the vision of the future should be for our company. However, listening to customer needs and customer desires helps to parse out where the innovation should begin and end. This has been very important for us. More than what we imagined for ourselves or what we imagined a company would do.

Moguldom: What do the next five years look like for CareAcademy?

Helen Adeosun: CareAcademy taking over the world! (laughter) I really think the sky’s the limit. The vision I’ve always had for the company is teaching and providing the best quality materials to support caregivers. We want to become and set the standard for the industry of caregivers when it comes to education. A standard that brings to mind quality and excellence in everything we create and how caregivers service their customers. Also, there’s a huge pipeline problem. Our eyes are set on how we can help this industry find talented people who have a passion for providing care. So over the next five years, I can see CareAcademy worldwide training millions of caregivers and helping the launch in to nursing as well.


About Ebony Grimsley-Vaz

Ebony T. Grimsley-Vaz is an author and digital marketing and PR expert for consumer brands, retailers, causes and events. Based in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, she owns Above Promotions, a digital marketing, publicity and promotions company. She wrote the book, "Because You're Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation."