YC-grad Papa raises $2.4M for its ‘grandkids-on-demand’ service

One of the latest additions to the economy on demand is Papa, a mobile application that connects university students with adults over 60 who need support and company.

The newly graduated accelerator program Y Combinator has raised $ 2.4. Round of millions of funds to expand their service throughout Florida and in five additional states next year, beginning with Pennsylvania. Initialized Capital led the round, with the participation of Sound Ventures.

Based in Miami, the startup was founded last year by executive director Andrew Parker. The idea occurred to him while juggling a full-time job in an emerging company and taking care of his grandfather, who had early-onset dementia.

"I've always been a human connector," said Parker, the former vice president of healthcare systems at the telehealth company MDLIVE, told TechCrunch. "I've always felt comfortable with all walks of life and all age groups, and I just felt that the human connection is really critical."

Older adults can request a "Papa Pal" through the company's mobile application, the desktop site or by phone. Friends can pick them up and take them out for an activity or invite them to play a game, complete housework, teach them how to use social media and other technologies or just chat. An older person is compared to a student, who must complete a "rigorous" background check, in just 30 seconds.

Parker says there are 600 students working with Papa an average of 25 hours per month.

"We have been fortunate that this is something the students really want to be a part of," he said. "They're not doing this for a couple of extra dollars, they're doing this to help the community."

Service costs seniors $ 20 per hour, $ 12 of which is paid to students and $ 8 is returned to Papa. It is not a subscription-based service, but seniors can pay for a premium option that allows them to choose between three Papa Pals instead of randomly associating with one of the hundreds of options. Students do not provide any type of personal care, such as bathing or grooming. And they are not a collection and delivery service, like Uber or Lyft.

"We believe that Papa's team has found a unique way to combat loneliness and depression in the elderly," said Alexis Ohanian, Co-founder and managing partner of Initialized Capital, in a statement. "The experience that Papa Pals provides to its members makes it look like they are part of a family."

In addition to expanding into new markets, it is in the process of partnering with insurance companies to allow seniors to pay for some of their services through their Medicare plans.

"Loneliness is a crisis. It's a disease It's killing people prematurely, "Parker said." We're providing a really massive impact on these people's lives. "