The below is a full (unedited), machine-generated transcript of a Youtube session / podcasting episode I recorded with Seth Sternberg of Honor in November 2021. You can view the video/listen to the podcast on Youtube, Apple Podcast, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
Erasmus Elsner 0:00
Let’s roll. All right. Welcome to another episode of Sandhill Road to my little indie podcast here. And today I have a great Silicon Valley veteran with me here. Seth Sternberg, who’s the co founder and CEO of honour. He’s building a tech enabled homecare services marketplace, which I think in the silver tech, the area of tech, that’s catering to the senior citizens. I think it’s really a category defining company. So, Seth, really happy to have you here with me on the show.
Seth Sternberg 0:34
Yeah, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Erasmus Elsner 0:36
So for the listeners out there, Seth is really he’s a veteran in the tech industry. It’s not his first time at the rodeo. He built another great company, Meebo in the instant messaging social media space before, which he ended up selling to Google. He then spent, I think, one or two years at Google, working on the Google Plus platform there. And then, after the typical two years at the acquirer, company, II thought it was time to give it another shot. And he built something, I would say very impactful. And maybe for the listeners out there, as you’ve just completed another major round of financing. I’m sure you have all kinds of pitches to customers, to investors, to employees, give us the podcast, two minute pitch version of what honour is and what you’re working on there.
Seth Sternberg 1:30
Yeah, so honour helps older adults remain in their homes as they age. So it’s actually pretty simple. And so as you get older, it becomes harder to do things like get out of bed, or get dressed, or take a bath or shower, get yourself food. Those things are called ADLs are activities of daily living. So what we help older adults with is doing those ADLs. So what happens is, once you can’t do one or two of those, it becomes really hard to live alone. And so if you want to stay in your own home, then you often end up getting homecare. And so homecare is where I would call them a care professional or in the Bureau of labour statistics, it’s called a personal care aide, goes into the home of the older adult and helps them with ADLs. It’s a really large industry. So in America, it’s a little bit of a $30 billion industry worldwide, it’s probably close to $100 billion.
Erasmus Elsner 2:22
And you started that around seven years ago. And I think the original inspiration basically came to you when you were in the car with your mother. Talk a little bit about this initial spark and why you decided to work on this fiendishly difficult vertical, I would say,
Seth Sternberg 2:39
yeah, so we were after we sold our last company to Google, we wanted to do something where we could look at human in the eye and know that we’d make their life fundamentally better. We wanted it to be millions of humans, not just one. And then we actually specifically wanted to work on something that we thought would be hard. And the reason we want to do that is we felt like, since we had built companies previously, we knew how to put teams together, we knew how to raise capital, so we could potentially work on something that would be harder than harder than most people could kind of handle. And if we could do that, then we could potentially solve a really big world problem. So we spent about a year and a half looking for what that problem was. And I ran into a kind of a small issue with my mother. But it literally just got me thinking about oh, what, you know what, what’s five years from now when my mother might really need a lot more help? And I’d really never want to be the kid who says, Hey, Mom, I’m so sorry. But you have to leave your home because she loves her home. And when you look at the homecare space is really, really hard actually just saying and homecare, which is home care is hard. Because you’re in the real world, right? You’re sending personal care aides into people’s homes, and you’re helping them and sometimes a very difficult time in their lives and a difficult time in the life of their families as well, when you know, they might be facing certain medical conditions or whatnot. But it was really an important space to address it was so societally, we’re not that great at taking care of older adults. It’s almost like they’re the Forgotten Ones. But we’re living in a world, almost the entire world kind of irrespective of country, where the proportion of population that is over the age of 65 is exploding. And so we need to societally figure out, how do we better care for older adults. Now, what you find in home care, is because it’s hard. And because people have this bias, that technology doesn’t really work well against the older adult population. You just don’t have a lot of innovation, right from tech land, you don’t have a lot of variation period. And what you see is this really, really fragmented industry with really uneven service quality and really an even kind of employment opportunities for the care professionals. So in that kind of environment, we thought, hey, we might be able to go in and really make it like a dramatically Add a product like dramatically more transparent, dramatically less scary for clients get them a much, much better care professional for their needs, and at the same time, create much better jobs for the care professionals give them more of the hours they need closer to their homes with the kinds of customers that are right for them. So we could help both people, right they care professionals and the clients through technology, basically solving a lot of these really difficult problems.
Erasmus Elsner 5:28
From the outside, it looks like such a difficult space to crack or such a difficult nut to crack. And when I looked into your background, you know, started me boo, it was a instant messaging and social media company a totally different segment. And in some ways, it allowed you to look at this with a fresh pair of eyes, right? Looking at this problem as a total novice in the caregiver industry. Maybe talk a little bit about the Meebo experience. I mean, this was a totally different ballgame. I think you raised initially from Sequoia back in 2005, and then transitioned along the way to this mediaeval model, where I think initially it was mostly instant messaging between peers. And then it became this meatball bar, and you eventually reached really critical mass with 100 million uniques in the US 20 million globally. It was a hugely successful product. And obviously, a totally different space, it was much less real, much less hard in that sense.
Seth Sternberg 6:30
So all startups are hard, right? There’s, there’s nothing that’s just a cakewalk. Usually, when you’re doing a startup, and every almost irrespective of the product that you’re working on, as long as you’re working on something that scales, right, that ends up getting pretty sizable. And so you have to build a number of teams, either or some common lessons that you learn, right, you learn how do I build a team? How do I hire people? How do I enable leaders to be great leaders? How do I raise capital to keep fueling the growth of whatever it is that I’m working on? So you either these common lessons, and the common lessons between Meebo and auto were actually very, very similar, right, like, how do you scale how do you hire those amazing people? What is the head of marketing do right? Like I didn’t know that when I started Meebo, but I knew it when I started on her, because it amiibo experience. So yeah, the if you have those lessons, I guess my philosophy is you should take them and apply them to a really hard problem like, and the reality is that honour is harder, right? It’s a harder startup because it has real world operations. And we actually use technology to affect human behaviour, like we’re trying to give the characters, much better jobs for them, and then that lets them deliver much better care, right, we’re trying to give clients better care pros that match their specific needs, right. And if we do that, well, the clients will be much happier, and so will the characters, right? Because characters perform better when they’re in a situation that’s more appropriate to their skills. So honours harder, but it’s not like any other startup is easy, right? They’re all very hard to. So you can take those lessons and kind of get a leg up on that harder problem to solve, and then maybe solve something that other people would find challenge.
Erasmus Elsner 8:26
And I think that’s so fascinating in Silicon Valley, you know, like, Elon Musk had to build a boring FinTech company to get to space, a lot of people get sort of started with easier lower hanging fruit sauce. And then they really apply some of these learnings to the harder verticals like you did. This
Seth Sternberg 8:40
is actually a pattern. So a number of my friends who are second time founders, because you know, I’m kind of like older now for Silicon Valley. And so my friends that are more of my generation, where we started our first companies back when we were in our, you know, earlier, mid 20s. Many of them are doing second companies, but almost all of them are much harder, right? They’re in healthcare, a lot of them actually, interestingly, are in healthcare, where the issues are just more complicated. The team builds are more complex, the monetization is more complicated as well, the kind of room for errors smaller because you’re dealing with people’s lives. But we all kind of had the same, I guess, point of view, which was, we were in a place where we could try to really help society in some kind of meaningful way, by taking what we’d previously learned and applying it elsewhere.
Erasmus Elsner 9:29
And talking about getting your original band together there. You had really the luck that you could start out with a Class A team with a sandy Jen, who was also a co founder and Meebo. And then Cameron ring was CTO. I think he also had a quite successful exit with Plaxo, which he sold to Comcast. And then Monica Lowe, who was a senior marketing director at Safeway. So talking about getting those people excited to work with you there, which is, I guess, really the first role of founders to get everyone on the same boat and excited about the same mission. Right?
Seth Sternberg 10:04
Yeah. So in general one, like one of your main jobs as a founder is to build teams, right? And what’s hard is, no matter kind of how competitive the environment is like, no matter how hot the environment, it is always really, really hard to attract amazing people. And the success or failure of your company almost always is about attracting those amazing people. What we’ve found is because honour is so mission driven, that we’re almost always able to punch above our weight, right, we’re always able to find people who are just so like, really could be at any company, but choose to come to honour because it’s such a kind of mission driven company where oftentimes they have a personal experience, they know how really difficult it is, and caring for their grandparents or grandparents. And so they want to work on that problem. Fortunately, because of our history, we kind of had a ready to go team, we had like probably 12 people out the gate, who just were like, there and going and we’d all worked together before and, you know, from the founders, to the original engineers, it was just kind of like, kind of rocket as fast as we could go.
Erasmus Elsner 11:10
And then let’s talk about the really early days and sort of the MVP, and you started out as really a pretty classical b2c marketplace, I think on a traditional 1099 contractor basis. And you pretty soon learned that this wouldn’t work. And you became now emblematic of this new category of marketplaces, which Andrew Chen from Andreessen refers to as the managed marketplaces, and I’m reading here from his piece, managed marketplaces are really this full stack marketplaces that have an additional value at that intermediates, the service delivery and really helps to deliver the service and to ease the friction between the two sides of the marketplace. Maybe talk about the first iterations, I think, with the classical Uber for X ideation in the beginning, and when you started to shift to this managed marketplace, full stack model.
Seth Sternberg 12:01
Yeah, yeah. So when you start a new company in a new space that you don’t know, you have to just know that there’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t know, right? Like, you have to be very honest with yourself about where you’re, where you have knowledge and where you don’t. And so there are a few things you do. One is you hire really smart people who have more knowledge than you do. So before we ever launched, we hired someone from healthcare. And then we also hired someone from labour. Right, who had experience working with care professionals. And then we actually first just launched an agency. Right? So there are two ways to launch an agency. They’re kind of what they call referral agencies. And then there are homecare agencies. And there are two different kind of legal models for running a homecare agency in the United States. And we chose to launch a referral agency. First, we did it with very little technology, it’s easier to switch from being a referral agency to a homecare agency, if that’s the way you want to go. And so we actually had to just launch with the most flexibility, right, because we just didn’t know how, what we find when we got into things. And one of the things that we found very quickly is the homecare, the personal care aides that we were hiring really needed training, like, we really needed to be able to treat them as employee, rather than as a contractor and train them on our way and have them use our app and have a schedule for that. And all these things that kind of imply employment. And so we very quickly switched over to the W two model as opposed to the 1099 model, otherwise known as the kind of homecare agency model as opposed to the referral agency model. But you know, I think even more interesting is we, we launched on like, almost no technology to right, we were running the whole thing by hand, we had some cute apps, like customers could see which character was going to come to their home or whatnot. But there wasn’t much technology making things better in the backend backend, right, we were operating the same way any other agency operates like by by hand. But then as we got bigger and bigger as kind of our own local agency, right, we saw all of the challenges that these agencies encounter as they tried to grow. And so then we started building technology to fix some of these problems. Right. So initially, it was like launch by hand, our own agency, then it was start building technology to make it better, right, so that we could fix some of these problems that are inherent in trying to run a homecare agency that scales. And then ultimately, we went out from running our own agency. And we did what most tech companies do when we started offering up our platform is as a platform, right? And we gave it to other agencies to operate themselves on it a product that we call HCN or on our care network. So it’s It’s important though, that, you know, when you’re when you’re approaching a complicated problem, you got to know what you don’t know upfront, right? And you just got to learn and the easiest way to learn frankly, is just do it. Right. So we just launched a homecare agency. Then we hit aerated, then we started building technology to make the problems better. And then we started offering that technology to other folks.
Erasmus Elsner 15:06
And let’s try to unpack now, which is always super interesting with marketplaces, even the managed marketplaces, the different sides of the market. And starting with the supply side. And there, I think you interviewed 100 caregivers in Phoenix and Sacramento initially, and the thing that you learned was that they didn’t feel respected, and that you really had to address some of these psychological needs as well. And I think you, you came up there with this term of care pros, and you looked at each and every problem that they had, so they needed to get their hours filthy needed to be able to get reimbursed when they parked somewhere. Let’s talk about you know, how you’re catering specifically to this supply side. And and why you have such high retention among these caregivers.
Seth Sternberg 15:54
Yep. Yeah. So the most poignant interview that I remember before we ever launched, never no money, no see, corporate are just literally talking to care pros at Starbucks, that we were finding on Craigslist, and Phoenix in Sacramento, was talking to us care caregiver in Phoenix, and a Starbucks. And she said to me, she’s like, look, I’m treated like they’re, I’m called unskilled to my face. But I’m a professional, and I want to be treated like a profession. And that rang true throughout all these interviews that we did. And it is where care pro came from, right? Because care pro stands for care professional. And the thought was, well, if if caregivers want to be professionals, it’s called them what they want to be professionals. And then what we kind of did over time, is we built a system that truly treats care pros, like professionals. So that’s kind of when you’re hired, there’s, you know, you’re hired with a set of expectations, and then you’re trained. And then once you’re trained, you’re put into positions in environments that are appropriate to you. Right? As you know, if you put me in an environment that I’m not appropriate for, I’ll fail, right? So that would be for example, let’s make sure that someone who’s allergic to cats doesn’t go to a home with cats in it, or someone who’s not dementia trained to not serve someone who has dementia. Right? Then you have to give professionals tools, right, like they need the right tools to do their job. It you know, in the case of homecare, that’s like client profiles, so it’s not scary when they walk in the door, and they know what they’re going to encounter, care plans to follow. So that they’re professionalised. When they’re in the home, then you give them a set of ratings, right? You tell them here’s how you’re doing, which, believe it or not, is extraordinarily uncommon in home care. And then you give them kind of rewards or consequences, right. And that’s what it looks like for any professional. And that’s gonna be the system that we built for care pros. Now, what it’s resulted in, there’s, there’s a lot to it is we have about half the turn rate of industry and average, we have about half what’s called a call off rate of average industry probably will do better than that, which is, does a care Pro, go or not to an individual shifts that they’re supposed to go to our care pros test is super happy working with an honour. One of the things that’s awesome is, you know, even in this environment, where it’s been very, very hard for the industry to get enough care pros to fill on demand, we’ve largely been able to keep enough care pros and keep filling on the demand from our customers. And it’s because we’re creating just such a better environment from care pros that we really are their first choice employer. Right? And that’s super, super important. And when we actually went back in, in it literally five years after we launched, we statistically analysed what makes you happy. And it turned out the absolute number one thing was what they think of as respect and respect is that I get paid what I was told I’d get paid, do they get paid on time? Was I put into positions and situations that are appropriate to me? And then a big one is, do I get guilt tripped? Right? Like, do I get that phone call? That’s Oh, would you please go fill this last minute shift? I know it’s Christmas Eve. But I did that favour for you a week ago. Right. So they really care about respect. And that’s actually the number one correlate. And then the number two correlate with a happy care Pro is are they getting the hours that they need? So they’re they’re working on these hourly jobs. And if a customer all of a sudden passes away, or moves into facility, next week, they might lose 50% of their hours. And that’s really, really difficult. And so we worked extremely hard to keep the schedules of our care pros dead. Right, so that even if a customer of theirs does move into facility, for example, they’ll still have work next week to keep their schedule all and not take this kind of massive, effective. So those are two things that are like the most important care pros. And it was really awesome to see, five years after we launched that we had gotten big enough that we had enough data that we could statistically see that what the characters had told wasn’t the Starbucks it’s five years earlier, actually held true in reality.
Erasmus Elsner 20:04
That’s wonderful. That’s really great. And then talking about the other side of the equation, the families and the senior citizens that you help take care of, I think the most important thing for listeners is, this is really non medical care that you provide. But it’s a range of activities. It’s from, you know, helping them stay active, helping them with the companionship, doing games, it’s all kinds of various tasks and activities that you typically do there. But talking a little bit about also the experience, what does the family get? What does the actual customer get? What’s the experience, like from their, from their side?
Seth Sternberg 20:40
We just want them to get a better khairpur. Right? So none of our clients and our customers care about our technology, it’s like a zero, right? What they care about is did they really liked the care professional, who went into the home of their mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or neighbour or whoever it is that they’re caring for? Where they appropriate to the needs of their loved one? Did they do a really great job? Right? So like, first and foremost, we want them to just perceive that they have a better, more reliable character off right whose skills match their needs. They get other stuff, which we think of is helping kind of take away the black box of homecare. So homecare, scary because often you’re getting care for your mom, and your mom lives a few hours away. And maybe your mom has dementia. And so you can’t even necessarily trust exactly what she tells you. So you don’t know what’s really happening. Like what what kind of cares you really getting. And so we have a whole bunch of stuff in our app that can attract what’s happening when the care pros in the home. And that becomes visible to whoever the family caregivers. And so what we’re trying to do beyond just give people a better care pro and a better care experience is give them more transparency, that goes from everything for what happened to the home to a wellness check that we do in the home to even something like you know, showing people their bill, right, like right after a visit. And so just something modern that we would all expect in like an Uber, right, let’s let’s bring that to this industry to.
Erasmus Elsner 22:12
Now that’s amazing. I think it’s it’s the core of the success that you had as well, that it really resonates on the customer side that in the end, it’s a human going to another humans house. And there’s a lot of trust involved. And moving on to the fundraising segment where I talk about how much you raised and how you raised it. I think it’s always quite interesting for other founders to learn how that worked. It’s not your first time at the rodeo, I think you’ve raised from Sequoia back in the days in 2005. Three and a half million on a 12 million post, which were different times. And now you’ve raised north of 600 million just announced a 370 million debt and equity round. And it’s a totally different environment these days. Let’s start with a Series A which I think in your case, for honour is quite an interesting story there. We could start it all with you getting breakfast with Marc Andreessen and him getting a veggie omelette I read somewhere on Wikipedia. And then he got excited about the idea. He would start emailing you at 2am in the morning. And when it came time for you to raise your series A he was there and ready to go.
Seth Sternberg 23:17
Yeah, so we were not yet raising any money. As you saw. We were doing a whole bunch of stuff just like prior to raising money. And Mark was actually an angel investor in my previous company in Meebo. And he invested in it when he was doing name before he was doing Andreessen Horowitz. So I’d known Mark for a very long time. And I picked up and I just said, Hey, I’m working on a new thing, you know, popped out of Google, do you want to do you want to go grab breakfast. And so we went to grab breakfast, I’m not sure it was a veggie omelette, he doesn’t actually normally eat a veggie omelette, but he was having an omelette. He does like omelettes and kind of run through the idea. And he just was like, she was like so into it just immediately. And really, because I think it was World Mission for him. Right? It’s like, this is the thing that could actually change the world for the better. That’s a real societal need. So he started emailing me with a bunch of ideas quite frequently. And we ended up raising the round, probably two, three months later, when we were actually kind of quasi ready to take money. So we did run a process. And that’s kind of the right thing to do. And mark one, which is great. So Mark is awesome. And in our series, a mark put in 15 million and do it and then we reserve 5 million for other people that we thought could be helpful over time from really diverse backgrounds from, you know, Ben Jealous, who was one of the youngest presidents of the NAACP ever to, you know, Bob Kerry, the former governor and senator from Nebraska, to Jessica Alba, who you know, was an actress in Los Angeles and also a business owner and founder of honest or sorry, of honour, Honest, honest company. I’m sorry, her daughter’s name is on her and her company is honest. So, you know, we we intently but kind of This crew of people together, who we that thought could really help along the way, in our mission to help society. And that’s how I put that together.
Erasmus Elsner 25:12
And I think also German supplement I read and Max left shinzou really some great and made some room for some great angels there as
Seth Sternberg 25:20
well. And of classic Silicon Valley classic angels. Yeah, we all know each other from when we were a lot younger. And so, yes,
Erasmus Elsner 25:28
and then let’s move on Series B from thrive 45 million Series B, and then you know, the list goes on 50 million Series C, led by Naspers, in 2018. And then we get to these growth rounds, which are now followed by what I would even classify as crossover rounds. Last, lastly, announcing this October 370 million debt equity facility, which I would would assume from you know, from the news that it was sort of an acquisition facilitated for for the home instead, acquisition, maybe talk a little bit about just, you know, the cadence and the pressure that it also puts on you and and the team as these funding, funding rounds getting larger and larger.
Seth Sternberg 26:10
Yeah. So yeah, the last time was partially tied to the acquisition, but partially is tied to the normal kind of growth, hire a lot more engineers keep investing in growing and really putting, taking the technology platform that we’ve been deploying into the whole industry and deploying that technology platform into the home instead network, so we can make that network truly special are really, really different. It already is literally the best network in home care by a mild. And if we combine that with a kind of capabilities of the technology and operations platform of honour, we can, I think, like really change the world a lot faster. In terms of the kind of the scale of the financing, you know, financing scales to the skill of the opportunity, right? And so if there’s huge world problems, then sometimes they need a lot of money to go fix them. And typically, it’s hard, right? Like Elon Musk is, is the story goes bankrupted himself as he was building Tesla, right, no one wanted to give him money at a certain point, he made a bunch of money from PayPal, but he spent it all down in Tesla. And so you know, these kinds of companies where you’re really trying to change something very fundamental in the world, that’s really hard, can be really hard and can require a lot of capital, but that get on the other side can be massive, right? Like, you can literally change the way society cares for a whole segment of society, or you can decarbonize, you know, transportation, these are worthwhile things to maybe take a little bit of pain on along the way.
Erasmus Elsner 27:42
And I mean, like in the greater scheme of things, it is a lot of money that you raised, but for the problem space that you’re addressing, I think it’s it’s been growing rather slowly and concentrated in the sense. And I remember you talking also about, you know, how deliberate you were with like rolling it out to other cities, I remember LA, I think, was the first additional city, which was really a flight away and you wanted to test it, then Dallas was a different state different regulation, you wanted to sort of test it out there, then Albuquerque, which was a smaller city, half a million people more isolated, and you were really deliberate about growing and opening up new cities?
Seth Sternberg 28:23
That’s right. Yeah. And the theory there was, you know, when you’re doing something like honour, where you’re literally taking care of people, like you have people who you’re trying to put in a better position in their lives, we call it care for careprost. And you are sending them in as your employee to take care of people, all right, you have to be more careful, like, you know, you can’t move fast and break things is not so great. And this environment. And so, the two things that we’ve always said, really kind of make us go at the rate at which we kind of can go is quality and ethics, right? Like we can never break quality, we can never break ethics. And so we have chosen a path of growth that enables us to scale. And we want to get to as many people as possible so we can write, but only at the rate at which we know we can maintain like really, really high quality and remain extremely ethical.
Erasmus Elsner 29:21
And as you’re sort of now having to decide between organic and inorganic growth, having initially grown really like deliberately organically. You’ve now added this major acquisition which is this home instead network which I think it was partially private equity owned. So you’re bringing a lot of new people to the organisation with one big deal there. How do you think about really deliberately integrating it into the network?
Seth Sternberg 29:47
So home instead, actually is the largest franchise network in the world from best brand by a mile other application size is much larger than anybody else’s like really like truly the best run network Interestingly, it’s the only one that had never sold any equity to private equity. So it was purely owned by the founders exclusively. But it was a lot of people like their HQ, our HQ, when we did the deals, probably 350 people and their HQ was 250 people. So it’s a lot of people and then they’ve got their entire network. That’s a worldwide network that we’ve kind of brought into the family as well. What’s amazing about this particular kind of coming together of honour and homestead is the company’s like truly cannot be more complimentary. So what homestead is, and has is just like the absolute best brand in homecare, the absolute largest network in home care, right, and like a really, really personal way in which they deliver the care, it’s really relationship centred. What honour has is just like credible is this amazing technology capability and operations capability that when it marries up with a traditional homecare agency, it expands the agency’s capacity to care and like dramatically, all of a sudden, that agency can care from many, many more people, because it can run so much better get better jobs for those caregivers that it has. And then like truly like expansively improve the number of people locally that you can care for, which is a big deal when so many people are getting older in our society. So in this particular transaction, we weren’t looking at it saying, Where do we get the costs? Right? Rather, we were saying how are we 10x Like, because we can 10x we can take what each company has built, and basically have one company with this like massive network or this incredible technology capable as credible operations capability, put them together. And you’re not just going to like 10x scale and homecare, you’re gonna 10x scale and just caring for older adults and and improving the way in which society approaches that problem. And so that’s what was really so exciting to hear and what we’re really working on very hard in the background.
Erasmus Elsner 32:02
I think it’s a super interesting opportunity emerging, these old economy companies with your platform and your technology, they’re now moving on maybe three, slightly different topic competition. And as I mentioned, you’re competing with some large in home care providers, you’re obviously having a lot of meat two competitors, who, who saw this opportunity, tried to adopt it in different geographies. How do you think of competition? Is it more than newcomers? Is the incumbents? Is it just the family taking care of their family members? What sort of the competition that you
Seth Sternberg 32:36
see, I think the dominant competition is literally that if you walk out the door right here, or you look on Yelp here, and it’s like, hey, I want home care for my mom, where I’m sitting there probably 30 to 50 agencies that would say, hey, I can care for your mom tip. So the real competition is actually like locally in each market, there’s like another 30 agencies who all say they’re amazing, right? And I’ll say, hey, I’ll get you an amazing care caregiver, as a way to just make it just extraordinarily clear to our clients that we offer just an absolute better level of quality and can provide you with help that just no one else can provide you with. Right? And that’s the competition, right? It’s just creating a dramatically better product, both in quality and in capability. So that there’s no question in people’s minds. And like, is this the thing that I should use? Right? Is this the brand honour or home instead, to care for my mom or dad, when you start thinking, getting into others, this edtech company, and you know, there are a number throughout Western Europe, there were a number inside the United States, we literally just don’t think about, right, it’s a waste of time, when people try to copy a company from outside looking in, they almost always get it wrong, they don’t understand why the company is doing what it’s doing. We’ve had a number of, you know, extremely well funded, kind of fast follow companies just fall apart, right? And cease cease to operate. And I think that they were partially trying to follow what other people were doing without having like a clear sense of where they wanted to go themselves. So when you’re doing something like this, if you’re kind of pure on your product division, and then you’re also listening really closely to your customers, like that’s what you have to focus on. Not, oh, I have this new competitor over here. Who cares? Like the market is massive, right? Just create a product people really want and really love.
Erasmus Elsner 34:27
You touched upon this beings, typically a hyperlocal market where people go on Yelp, I could imagine that the dynamic of getting customers is more a referral basis in your market and very local, sort of growing and organically, or working with maybe some trusted other providers in the system. Rather than having, you know paid search engine optimization. How does it work?
Seth Sternberg 34:51
It’s actually one of the things that makes it really, really hard to enter the market. So it turns out that paid acquisition in kind of like social orange search does not work that well. And really what works is local relationships with trusted sources, from discharge planners to social workers to even like wealth managers or conservators. So really, it’s building up a relationship over time within the human network, that drives people’s ability to get kind of folks coming in seeking care from them.
Erasmus Elsner 35:22
And maybe, as a last point, before we wrap it up here, your PR team was kind enough to give me a slide on the vision for honour. And it says here, we are building the platform to connect older adults to the modern ecosystem, but for you, personally, what’s the vision for honour,
Seth Sternberg 35:39
I will be happy when kind of our collective brands on our tone instead, etc. Come to stand for the place that people go to get help and caring for mom and dads? Right. So just irrespective of if it’s, you know, Medicaid based home care, Medicare based home care, you need with facilities needed with food, like anything, right? There are so many issues that you encounter as mom dad get older. And it’s really confusing right now. Right. And so what I really want to do is solve that problem, I want us to be the place that people can come that they know they can trust, get trusted advice and help them solve whatever it is that kind of is their challenge that they’re facing right now with mom or dad,
Erasmus Elsner 36:25
one interesting aspect. And we haven’t touched upon this. But as a recovering lawyer, I always like to talk about regulation, as you mentioned, a potential additional vertical could be the Medicare vertical, where you actually do provide medical services at the latest at that stage, this will be so heavily regulated, so different between different states, even within the US alone, talk about how the regulatory front looks today with what you’re providing. And you know, how it’s challenging to branch out to new categories?
Seth Sternberg 36:55
Yeah, well, in the United States, there are 50 different regulators 50 Different states, I’d say in the non medical side of home care. It’s not as burdensome, as in kind of core health care delivery. But there’s still quite a bit that we have to do unique state by state as we move into each state. And then a lot as we move into each country, Ireland looks really different than Switzerland, which looks really different than the United Kingdom. England is actually different than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So there is a fair amount that we have to take into account already. You know, fortunately, we’ve built systems to kind of handle those regional differences.
Erasmus Elsner 37:31
Perfect. Seth, thank you a lot for taking the time and being here with us today. Where can people find out more about what you’re up to what social media platforms can they follow you I think Meebo is no longer an option.
Seth Sternberg 37:43
By Kathy vivo, they get I’m followable Seth J. S on Twitter. You can follow him instead, on Twitter or Facebook, you can follow honour on Twitter or Facebook, so entities easy to follow.
Erasmus Elsner 37:57
And what’s your take on Facebook, as a lot of people say that Facebook is actually now a silver tech platform in terms of social media,
Seth Sternberg 38:05
social stuff, like social spinkle social moves really fast. I guess I’ve never thought of Facebook as a silver tech platform. But I think there’s a reality in social which is what’s hot today may not be hot tomorrow.
Erasmus Elsner 38:19
All right. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here with us.
Seth Sternberg 38:22
Thank you for having me.