Startup connecting seniors to college students for companionship, services lands $2.4M

Miami-based Papa's tech-enabled platform lets elders reach out to college students for transportation, household chores and companionship.
By Laura Lovett
03:35 pm

Miami-based startup Papa,  an online service that links college students to seniors for practical services and companionship, has raised $2.4 million in a seed funding round. The latest round was led by Initialized Capital, with participation from Sound Ventures. 

The new money is expected to help the platform grow throughout Florida and expand to new markets. 

Through the service, seniors can request a college student to help with transportation, household chore, technology lessons and companionship. Users first access a free consultant to learn about how the service could work for them. They can then access the service by downloading the app, texting or calling. From there, seniors request a visit from one of the college students. 

Users can opt into the regular membership, which is free to start. Then rates start at $20 per hour, billed by the minute after the first hour. There is also a premium membership, which costs users $30 (plus the $20/per hour) and lets users schedule visits on the same day and interview their “Pal” ahead of time and chose their “Pal team.”  

Why it matters

The number of seniors in the US is expected to grow to 74 million by the year 2030, according to a CDC healthy aging report. The Floridian company said its goal is to reduce loneliness in the senior population. 

“We are blown away by the feedback from the members and Papa Pals, and we’re excited for the support we now have to expand the program,” Andrew Parker, founder and CEO of Papa, said in a statement. “We quickly realized how big of an impact the connection between the two generations had on each other, and have spent the last year further developing the foundation of our platform to reach more users. We’ve found that Papa goes beyond helping with everyday tasks — it helps solve the loneliness crisis.” 

The trend
Papa was launched as part of the Summer 2018 Y Combinator accelerator program. But the rising senior population has seen an increase of adoption technology and the rise of remote care, according to a report from HealthXL and AARP.

Aging in place has been a hot topic and more companies are looking to link seniors to resources taht enable this. Connecting elders to home healthcare services has also been a key area of growth in recent years. For example, in May, care coordination platform Honor closed a $50 million Series C funding round

On the record 

“We are excited to partner with Papa,” Alexis Ohanian, cofounder and managing partner of Initialized Capital, said in a statement. “We believe the Papa team has found a unique way to combat loneliness and depression in older adults. The experience that Papa Pals bring their members make it seem like they are part of a family. They are truly ’Grandkids on Demand.”


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