“We provide grandkids on demand and incredible social experiences for seniors and we also provide assistance and help with errands,” says Andrew Parker, founder and CEO of Papa.

Papa, named after Parker’s grandfather, is a service that connects young people with senior citizens who need help with cooking or grocery shopping, getting to a doctor’s appointment or could use some help with a household chore, for instance.

Parker was inspired to start the business after his family’s own experiences caregiving for his grandfather who had Alzheimer’s. This entrepreneur comes with past startup experience, too. He helped to scale MDLive, a telehealth startup founded by his father which today has over 25 million members and integrations with health system.

After researching the idea and becoming more convinced of the market need, Parker left his full-time position at MDLive in early 2017 and began to assemble a team. Papa has four full-timers now; in addition to Parker there is an operations expert, a member engagement manager and a sales person. A VP of engineering or CTO will likely be the next hire, Parker said.

The service was soft-launched last fall and is now opened up fully. A mobile app will be launched in the next couple of weeks, Parker said.

So far, 150 Papa Pals have been vetted and onboarded – a 10-step process – and 100 are already active and doing visits. Parker said membership is growing about 50 percent a week now but he would not disclose revenues or member numbers. “Our secret sauce is the customer experience,” Parker said.

 “We provide grandkids on demand and incredible social experiences for seniors and we also provide assistance and help with errands,” says Andrew Parker, founder and CEO of Papa.

Parker’s goal for 2018: to get to more than 4,000 members. Right now Papa offers a subscription model — $10 a month and $12 per hour — and a pay as you go model at $20 an hour. About 95 percent of the members are electing for the subscription model, which offers far more value and can be cancelled anytime. Parker thought a typical customer might be using it about once a week, but is finding that a lot of customers are using it nearly every day. Maybe it is to take a customer to the hairdresser, or help them do a Facetime session with their grandchildren. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls from seniors wanting help learning to use Netflix. We’ve received calls from family members to take their parents to the beach.”

Papa has raised about $500,000 in funding so far and is aiming to raise $2 million in 2018.

Parker’s goal is to roll out throughout South Florida first and then the state of Florida. “We have a pretty robust expansion plan and do expect to be nationwide in next two years.”

Most of the growth so far has been word of mouth or through social media, and growing its membership and its pool of Papa Pals is the focus for 2018. “We’re right now very focused on understanding the kind of the inputs and outputs of that in South Florida and then repeating that model across the country.”

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