Papa raises $10 million to expand 'Grandkids on Demand' to 25 states next year

By Nancy Dahlberg
Papa, a Miami-based startup that helps make life easier, safer  and happier  for seniors by providing “Grandkids on Demand,” today announced the completion of a $10 million Series A round.
The round was led by Canaan, with additional investment from Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates. Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and Sound Ventures re-invested in the round.
Founded in 2016 by Andrew Parker, Papa connects college and nursing students, known as “Papa Pals,” to older adults who need assistance with transportation, house chores, technology and other services. The startup says its Papa Pals — 3,500 and counting — curb social isolation and loneliness among seniors, which researchers have shown has the same impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
“Our mission at Papa is to end the loneliness epidemic among seniors by connecting two distinct generations – energetic, enthusiastic college students, and older adults in need of companionship and assistance,” said  Parker, Papa’s CEO, in a press release. “We have grown rapidly, filling a massive void in care for seniors who want to live independently and need some support, which previously had no obvious solution. The Series A funding and our partnerships with insurance providers will allow us to expand and support more older adults with a positive experience.”
On Wednesday, Papa also announced it has partnered with multiple large health insurance plans, including Humana, Aetna, Priority Health and Alignment Healthcare, to make the service available to many more seniors. Recent law changes concerning Medicare Advantage mean some Papa services like transportation to medical appointments could be covered, impacting 20 million beneficiaries.
Papa also announced a partnership with New Benefits, an employee benefits provider. Through the partnership, employees can enroll in Papa and use the service to provide care to the older adults in their families.
The Miami startup, which already employs 50 people, will use the financing proceeds to expand its services to a broader population of older adults, via partnerships with additional insurance plans and employee benefit providers. Papa said it plans to be available in 25 states in 2020; it is currently available in 14 states.
“Andrew and the Papa leadership team are pioneering the elder technology market, a category of products and services being built today that will represent a paradigm shift in how seniors and their families live tomorrow,” added Byron Ling, principal at Canaan. As part of the financing, Ling will join the company’s board.
Prior to this $10 million raise, the startup brought in $3.3 million, including a $2.4 million round led by Initialized Capital last October. Initialized’s Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of reddit, is also a vocal proponent of Papa and its elder-care mission.
“Initialized was an early investor in Papa and we continue to be impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity of Andrew and the Papa team,” Ohanian said on Wednesday.
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Nancy Dahlberg