CARING ABOUT GROWTH: Dr. Madhuri Reddy, left, and Helen Adeosun, co-founders of CareAcademy, have closed nearly $1.7 million in funding. FOUNDERSWIRE PHOTO
By SHELAGH BRALEY
BOSTON—CareAcademy is $1.675 million closer to educating the world’s elder caregivers.
The company, at the nexus of ed tech and health tech, last week locked down and announced the funding. ReThink Education led the seed round, with participation from the Techstars Venture Capital Fund and the Lumina Foundation.
CareAcademy, co-founded by Helen Adeosun and Dr. Madhuri Reddy, provides online classes for those who work in home health care—a largely unregulated but increasingly necessary component of aging in America. The field is also evolving, out of necessity, with more than 60 million Americans turning 65 before 2020, according to AARP research.
“I feel energized because we’re getting so much capacity,” says Adeosun. “We’re excited to prepare for our next phase. Now we’re focused on leading an organization that can scale. We know what the need is; it’s too great an opportunity.”
New York-based Rethink Education—who took the lead investor position quickly, according to Adeosun—recognized that opportunity as well.
“It was really encouraging, that within three weeks of opening up the round, we had our lead,” she says. “ReThink has been phenomenal and has a great reputation.”
“We see a tremendous need for efficient training in the home care market,” says Matt Greenfield, managing partner for Rethink Education, in a release. “The rapidly aging U.S. population, the increased acceptance of home care by physicians, and the desire of most seniors to age in place are among the many factors contributing to significant year-over-year growth in the home care market, and an ongoing need for skilled professionals,” he continues. “And yet currently, there are very few educational resources available to develop critical job skills.”
With nearly 10,000 caregivers already taking CareAcademy courses about infection control, nutrition and meal preparation, dementia, fall prevention and more, Adeosun says she and Reddy are clear on the mission. “And we’re building into a really large industry that can bring a nice result for investors.
“But there’s no mission without margin,” she says, quoting one of her self-professed favorite B Corporation phrases. “So our focus now will be hiring: a strategic marketer, then a sales manager to reach out directly and build business development, with key players who can then become customers. The first step is to make the business sustainable. No one sells better than founders, but now we’re in a place to let sales drive itself.”
How did they decide how much money to raise, when the addressable market is so large—worth more than $300 billion by 2020?
“We had to plan backward for what we would need, so we backtracked to the amount of money,” she says. “We ended up with the dollar figure of a million and a half (in our heads),” she says. “And we wanted to build on the momentum (of the Techstars accelerator), so by Demo Day, we wanted a term sheet signed.”
They reached their funding goal, after Adeosun says she made the raise her full-time focus, connecting with a plethora of potential investors. “There was a bit of, we thought we could do it sooner. I finally said, ‘I’m going to put everything aside for now and raise this money.’ You do have to (keep pitching),” she says. “I think I reached out to 80 investors to make this go.”
Now that they’ve reached this milestone, Adeosun says she’s committed to making her experience available for others to learn from.
“We’re all well aware of it now—that in August, well into Q3—only 4 percent of venture-backed companies are women-run, and it was 7 percent last year. We’re still in this place where there seems to be very little movement. What can we attribute that to? I want to help as much as I can; I have purposely reached out to others who are raising, to help.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to be that resource, to make it possible for other founders,” Adeosun says.
Adeosun, a 2013 MassChallenge finalist and participant in the most recent Boston cohort of Techstars (among a long list of other prestigious accelerators), has amassed a career worth of lessons in entrepreneurship worth sharing.
“I’m grateful for all those years of learning, and excited to start bringing on the right people. We’ve been working at some version of this for so long, and now we’re going to go work even harder—that’s my real answer,” she says.
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