The tech-for-good sector has grown exponentially in recent years. According to Tech Nation, last year there were 490 social good firms in the UK, valued at £2.3bn and set to increase as companies realise the power of technology to accelerate positive social change. Over the coming weeks, business editor Candice Krieger will profile enterprises with a common objective at their core: making a positive impact. First up: SuperCarers.
The UK’s ageing population is increasing and so are fears about spiralling care bills.
With the number of over-85s in the UK predicted to double within the next 25 years and the percentage of those aged over 65 predicted to jump to nearly a quarter of the population by 2045, relatives are taking on caring responsibilities themselves to cut care costs. But it’s at the expense of their career.
According to research released in October by insurance giant Aviva, one-in-five mid-life employees will retire early to look after adult family members.
And while more than 2.6 million employees aged 45 and over expect they will have to leave their jobs to care for a relative or partner, with men almost as likely as women to stop working to do so, only six percent of employers see caring pressures as a significant issue faced by their employees. But doing its bit to revolutionise how we can support the ageing population and their families is SuperCarers.
Founded by brothers Adam and Daniel Pike, SuperCarers was established as a kind of dating site for care. The online platform provides a matchmaking service where families can find trusted carers to care for their elderly loved ones at home.
“We match people on a personal basis,” explains Daniel. “We are trying to put the compassion and relationships back into care.”
Founded in 2015, the business continues to evolve as it innovates in what is a complex sector inflamed by a growth in demand and shortage of provision. And Pike points out that people are tackling care when they are at crisis point with little understanding of what the best options are. “We need to think differently.”
SuperCarers has recently announced a pilot partnership with Aviva to help its workforce navigate the care landscape.
Aviva’s UK workforce will be entitled to a number of hours of paid leave to care for an elderly relative and have access to SuperCarers’ services. This includes a ‘care coach’ call with an expert to help to navigate them through their care journey. If they require care services, SuperCarers will match them with a private carer through their network, or one of their partner agencies.
The brothers set up SuperCarers having watched their mother struggle to find good enough care for their grandmother.
“My mum didn’t know what to do with her mum,” recalls Daniel. “She was volunteering for the Middlesex New Synagogue (now Mosaic Reform) but had to stop to become her full-time carer. The right care options in the community were not available. And because my grandma had dementia she couldn’t have an agency that sent different carers all the time as this would be disturbing. My mum couldn’t find the right solution.”
Adam, 34, was working as a policy adviser in the Cabinet Office and Treasury, on secondment from Deloitte, at the time. He dealt with policy that focused on improving care for an ageing population. He was previously the president of the Union of Jewish Students.
While Daniel, 32, was an accountant at PwC. They invested their house deposits to get it started. They have since raised £5.6million in funding including from the founders of Innocent Smoothie via their JamJar Investment Fund (other investments include Deliveroo, Graze and Babylon Health).
Last year they secured a £3.8million investment round led by VCT Mobeus Equity Partners and Seneca Partners. Other supporters include Richard Frank, co-founder of Dial-a-Phone.
The company boasts an impressive advisory board, chaired by former Care Quality Commission Strategy Director Alan Rosenbach.
The company has been listed as a Forbes’ Top 5 Startup To Watch in 2019 and a Health Investor finalist. Other accolades include The Sunday Times Top 100 British Innovators and Seedrs Alumni Awards.
Despite some startling statistics, Daniel says that the scale of the care crisis is not any more acute than a few years ago. “This issue hasn’t become bigger – it has been as big an issue for some time – but it has become bigger in the public consciousness.
“It’s a question of political will that hasn’t been addressed. The first person who introduced it as a hot topic, for all her faults, was Theresa May, with this long-awaited Green Paper, to discuss how to address the challenge of the ageing population.”
Through the use of smart technology, and working with experienced care professionals, SuperCarers bypasses the need for an agency middle-man. This results in sizeable savings for customers and carers can earn more than the industry average.
Live-in care is the company’s fastest growing provision. For day and night care it covers London and Greater London, rolling out to other UK cities including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bournemouth and home counties.
The company is growing at around seven percent month-on-month and provides more than 30,000 hours of monthly care, servicing some 800 clients.
But growth at all costs is not the model for the business. “We are dealing with something that is incredibly sensitive. The biggest challenge is building the business in the right way while trying to grow and not putting people at risk.”
Daniel says the sceptics will question the scalability. “It’s not a technology company, it’s a tech-enabled service – we use tech to reduce those overhead costs and operate as efficiently as possible but fundamentally it comes down to humans who will be delivering the service. And that’s why we can’t have a million customers tomorrow.”
The brothers are passionate about running a business with a positive social impact. “What we do every day makes a massive difference. We have tough days but then we have good feedback (their Excellent Rating Trust Pilot Reviews hang in their offices) and it makes it worthwhile.
“And the ethos of the business has have helped to attract first-class people. If you ask us why we are successful it’s because we’ve been able to hire people smarter than us. If we didn’t have the social purpose, we have we wouldn’t have been able to afford them. They choose us because of the business and the social impact.”
So what’s the five-year plan?
“Focus, focus, focus. Doing more work with partners and large corporates, who are realising they need to support their employees. “We want to engage people in advanced-needs planning, instead of people coming to us in crisis.”
He says: “It’s a complex journey and you need someone to hold your hand through it.”