New start-up Honor brings Silicon Valley spirit to elderly care

Honor helps find in-home care for an older generation – closing a market gap ignored by many other tech ventures.

honor
honor logo

Young consumers are often the first audience that technology companies target with new gadgets and mobile apps. Now a Silicon Valley company, backed by a few big names on the Internet, is aiming at the elderly.

The Honor online service, which is being unveiled on Thursday, aims to make it easier for older people to get professional in-home care to help with everything from taking a bath to picking up groceries, according to the company.

Among the backers of Honor, which has raised $20 million in funding, are venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and investors such as Yelp Inc CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, former Apple Inc retail chief Ron Johnson and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey.

"Silicon Valley traditionally doesn't do much for seniors," said Honor co-founder and Chief Executive Seth Sternberg, who sold the previous company he founded, social media service Meebo, to Google Inc in 2012.

"There's a pervasive belief that anything tech for seniors will fail because seniors can't use technology," Sternberg said, noting that he believed such a view was a mistake.

Honor said its service matches customers with professional caregivers based on criteria such as languages spoken, specialized training and even allergies to cats.

An Honor smartphone app gives family members updates about the care a relative is receiving, such as when the caregiver arrived and left, and what activities they did. Elderly customers, meanwhile, get a small electronic appliance that displays information such as what time their caregiver is arriving each day. They can also use the device to provide feedback.

Unlike existing elderly homecare services, which typically require a 3-hour-a-day minimum of in-home care, Honor will allow customers to receive as little as 1 hour a day. And the professional caregivers on its service will be paid a minimum of $15 an hour, said Sternberg, adding that it was higher than the average pay most professional caregivers receive today.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.