53 million Americans are unpaid caregivers for a family member, report finds
Co-founder & CEO of Carewell Bianca Padilla sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to discuss experiences in the caregiver industry, accommodating customers for their unique needs, and obtaining venture capital funding.
- Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. Now, more than 75% of caregivers are women. But what if you could leverage your experience with elder care into a business that's attracting the attention of venture capitalists? Well, our next guest did just that. I'm joined by Bianca Padilla, co-founder and CEO of Carewell. Thank you for joining me today. So first, I want to start with your personal story. What did your experience with becoming a caregiver at 22, what did that teach you about the industry and the role that you could play in disrupting it?
BIANCA PADILLA: Absolutely. And thanks for having me. I unexpectedly became a caregiver at only 22 years old when my grandmother had a major surgery that left her practically immobile. And I had no experience, no medical training. The process was just so overwhelming. And I really had no idea where to start or what she needed, where to get it.
And I just wanted to go to someone, anyone for advice, for guidance because I was working full time. I had so little time to figure it out. And that's when I realized I wasn't alone. 90% of all care and support that's received by seniors is actually provided by family caregivers like myself. And I thought there had to be a better way. That's when my husband and I co-founded carewell.com.
- And you and your husband bootstrapped the business for the first three years. What was that experience like? And how did you continue to push forward, being that you had so many hats to wear in those early stages?
BIANCA PADILLA: Well, first and foremost, we had to learn to do absolutely everything. And we were our own customer care agents for the first few years, working around the clock. But it really gave us a differentiated perspective, being able to hear so many of the stories of what it's like being a caregiver because so many caregivers have very individual needs caring for their loved ones. And so we were able to really provide a differentiated experience.
And that's when we started providing a deeper assortment of home health care products with fast free shipping. And, really, our key differentiators are 24/7 award winning customer care team. It's staffed with caregiving specialists who are trained to take any questions and really guide you to find the right product to best care for your loved one at home.
- Now, I want to talk about your scenario because, I mean, Bloomberg reports that female founders raised just 2% of VC money in 2021. You've managed to raise $30 million in venture capital to date. How did you grow your business to that point? What did you do to attract some of this capital?
BIANCA PADILLA: We always stuck to business fundamentals and making sure that we were providing the absolute best experience to our customers. So attention to detail in e-commerce is very important. And we made sure that we built a business for their unique needs. I mean, I built this business primarily because of my experience being a Latina woman and growing up in a multigenerational multicultural household.
And those firsthand experiences combined with my own caregiving experience really, like I mentioned earlier, demonstrated the need for a service like ours. And so our mission of serving and supporting the 53 million Americans who provide this care every single day kept us working hard day in and day out. Our customer base also inspires us every single day with their gratitude, with their words of encouragement, through their thousands of reviews. And, finally, it really takes just an incredible team and the support of family and friends. I mean, the team is the biggest strength.
And we were very, very lucky to have found, really, an amazing founding team early on that fought for everyone and through every single challenge. And so all of those wins and all of the successes we were able to show for the first three years. And that's what allowed us to successfully raise over $30 million of venture capital, as well as grow the team to over 140 employees. And we were named number 74 on Inc. 5000's fastest growing companies list and even named Fast Company's most innovative companies list as well.
- And we just have a little bit of time here. Obviously, the pandemic and the domino effect on things like child rearing disproportionately affected women, working women. And in your notes you say one in five Americans can expect to act as a formal caregiver in some point in their lives. We're expecting to see more people over 65 than under 18 by the year 2030. What role can women play in capitalizing on this? How can more women, perhaps, get into this space?
BIANCA PADILLA: Oh, I think looking for companies, there are so many companies that are being started every single day in the caregiving space or in the elder care space. One of our investors particularly invests in the elder care space. And so there are more and more opportunities, especially given that because 75% of women are caregivers, or make up the caregiving population, we understand better than anybody what particular needs this space has and how to fulfill those needs and more and more every single day. We're getting more funding, more recognition. And really, now is the time to start a business and to be able to go for it, or to join a business like Carewell or so many of the other successful businesses that are being run today.
- Well, it's incredible, an opportunity that you took advantage of. And I'm glad it's working out for you. Bianca Padilla there, co-founder and CEO of Carewell. Thank you for your time today.