Written by Andrew Seale
As a social worker, Kristal Lewis became well-acquainted with the gaps between healthcare resources and the aging population requiring those resources.
“I used to work in a hospital inpatient setting,” explains the founder of Senior Care Connect, who’d been in the industry for more than a decade. “It opened my eyes to how our healthcare system works and how it impacts those who are aging.”
She found herself liaising between families who didn't know where to turn and the resources available to them outside of the public healthcare system.
“People who had the financial assets wanted to look into private options, a private retirement home or hiring care… but there wasn't really a centralized access point for them,” she says. Lewis ended up doing their research, calling around to retirement homes, getting the pricing of services and aggregating it into a spreadsheet.
As the number of patients requiring the information grew, it quickly became tedious work. By 2014, Lewis realized she needed to do something.
“It wasn't like I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” she says. “I started by seeing a problem and figuring out how can this be addressed differently or better than what's currently being done.”
She knew nothing about building a business but figured if she incorporated Senior Care Connect and put up a website it would spur her onwards. She was already surrounding herself with entrepreneurs, attending conference and speaking with other business people in her network.
But with Senior Care Connect hovering off the ground, she started promoting the business with print ads, speaking engagements, and talks at seniors facilities. “It was all me trying to figure it out,” she says. “There's only so much success you can have in that realm.”
Then she hit a turning point. She met her co-founder Taiwo McGregor.
“I knew what the families wanted, I knew what the gaps were, I knew how to address it and put the information together… that I had a handle on,” says Lewis. “The pieces I was missing in order to scale (were) the technological component to it and the entrepreneurial business background – my co-founder brought both.”
He told her about York University’s LaunchYU entrepreneurship program and in April 2017 Senior Care Connect joined AccelerateUP. The program introduced her to the opportunities and resources out there for businesses.
They’ve since built a beta program where users can select different care options – dementia, bathing, oxygen etc… – and filter their searches. It’s the vision Lewis always had, even before she’d met her co-founder, she just needed that support to execute it.
“Tech is really where everything is going to grow, you're looking at being more efficient and being scalable,” says Lewis. “Our test is Toronto, we're looking to expand nationally and later get into the US market but, right now, our focus is two-fold: marketing and (growing) brand awareness in terms of increasing use acquisition and building on our platform.”
Photo Credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)