As folks age, they often rely on family members to help with chores, run errands, drive them to the beauty parlor or doctor, prepare meals, even sometimes reprogram their remote controls.
But what do older adults do when family isn't around to lend a hand? Richmond, Virginia, startup Naborforce, has come up with a solution to connect older people to a network of vetted and insured community members it calls “Nabors.” These Nabors are largely empty nesters, schoolteachers and retirees who are eager to help on demand.
Founder and Chief Executive Paige Wilson says such Nabors are people “seeking purpose and connections in their own lives.” They also can earn some extra income.
Naborforce beat out six other startups during the third annual Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Foundation Pitch Competition, sponsored by AARP Innovation Labs. The focus of this third annual Shark Tank-like event was finding tech solutions to address social isolation and loneliness and helping bring people together.
"Isolation has become something all too familiar to us this year due to the pandemic,” says Steve Ewell, executive director of the CTA Foundation. “But it's not a new issue.”
Ewell pointed to a 2018 study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that 22 percent of Americans often or always felt lonely or isolated. The consequences can be dire. The health effects of loneliness rival smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity, leading to increases in mortality and dementia, he says.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the pitch competition took place virtually March 31, rather than in January in Las Vegas, where it had been held during the CES tech trade show. Each of the contenders shared a brief pitch via video, followed by a short question and answer session with a trio of investor/judges.
Family inspires idea for company
Wilson came up with the idea for Naborforce eight years ago after her then-78-year-old mother, Joy, broke her hip. Her mom needed help with “lots of little things to keep her independent, connected and continuing to live a life filled with joy,” Wilson said during her pitch. Wilson was busy back then with her career and raising a teenage daughter.