By Nancy Dahlberg
The startup that provides "Family On Demand" to seniors and others has been on a roll, now with 120 employees. Comcast joins other high-profile investors in the Miami startup.
To help fund its growth into all 50 states, Papa, the Miami-based startup that that pairs older adults and families with “Papa Pals” for companionship and help with everyday tasks, has raised $18 million in its Series B round led by Comcast Ventures and including other high-profile investors.
In total, Papa has raised $31 million in venture capital to date and most of it raised in the last year. The funding follows a $10 million round last October.
Since founding Papa in 2017, founder and CEO Andrew Parker has racked up some impressive milestones. Today, Papa employs 120 full-time employees.
Papa's service is nationwide serving families in 17 states, with plans to expand to all 50 states by January, primarily through health plans.
And that has been one of the most significant developments in the past year. Papa has been on a tear partnering with health insurance plans; it is now available through some 20 health plans including Humana, Aetna, AvMed and Florida Blue Medicare. Papa works with Medicare Advantage providers as well as Managed Medicaid, and it's available through plans for employers as an employee benefit to support family caregivers. In January, the benefits will be becoming available for the first time for many of them, which is why Papa will be throughout the U.S., Papa co-founder and CEO Andrew Parker said in an interview Tuesday. "It's been a fun run," he said.
All that has helped to fuel growth this year of 30% to 40% month over month -- yes, during a global pandemic.
The big number: Parker expects growth to increase 5x year over year in membership growth as more health plan benefits go live next year.
"The pandemic has only exacerbated loneliness and the effects of social isolation. Now everyone is technically isolated in some capacity so it's really powerful if a Papa Pal can provide companionship whether it is virtual or in person," Parker said.
"Anyone who didn't believe in loneliness as a negative effect now obviously sees it. We continue to support older adults and families throughout the aging journey."
Formerly with the slogan Grandkids on Demand, Papa now uses “Family on Demand” to more accurately describe its service and focus on combating loneliness, which has been scientifically documented to have a detrimental impact on health. Services that Papa Pals, often college students, help their customers with include transportation, light household chores, navigating technology, doctors’ appointments, prescription pick ups and grocery delivery. Parker has a network of more than 5,000 Papa Pals.
“Papa is enabling a growing number of older Americans to age at home, while reducing the cost of care for health plans and creating meaningful jobs for companion care professionals,” said Fatima Husain, Principal at Comcast Ventures. “We are excited to join the Papa team as they build upon the company’s innovative solution and accelerate on its path to grow nationally.”
At a Papa event in Miami in December, Alexis Ohanian, who was one of Parker’s earliest investors, reminded the event goers of why successes by startups like Papa can help to define and grow a startup community.
“Any startup that can be successful and genuinely argue why it is good for the world has an advantage now. That’s why companies like Papa and others will have advantage because they want to solve real problems.”
Ohanian continued, “As companies like Papa grow, they just continue to expose people to the quality of life down here, the relatively much cheaper cost of living, and show them businesses that can have huge impacts on society. An unfair advantage of this city is around healthcare, the fact that 10,000 boomers a day are retiring,”
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