Duos Lands $15M in Series A Funding Led by Imaginary Ventures
Elderly care startup Duos landed $15m in Series A funding led by Imaginary Ventures, parties say Axios exclusively.
Why is this important: By understanding and solving the needs of seniors and caregivers, Duos, as co-founder Karl Ulfers puts it, aims to “reinvent freedom” for America’s aging population.
Details: Imaginary Ventures is joined by existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Declaration Partners in its latest capital injection, as well as new investor Optum Ventures.
- The duos last June emerged from stealth with a $6 million investment from Redesign Health and Forerunner Ventures.
State of play: Many older people lack basic social services or do not use available benefits that help them live longer, better and independent lives. With this, burnout is increasing among the “sandwich generation”, or those who support both their children and their aging parents.
- “Duos is tackling a huge problem in the country, which is that we are aging more than we are growing from a population perspective,” says Ulfers. “There is enormous pressure exerted on adults on their family caregivers.
- Kelly Dill of Imaginary Ventures says that by creating a product (her digital platform called “System of Aging”) at the intersection of consumer and business, “Duos enables seniors to age in place.”
By the numbers: 51% of older adults have unmet basic social needs and by 2030, one in five Americans will be at least 65 years old.
- The number of unpaid family caregivers in the United States reached 54 million in 2020, up from 10 million five years earlier.
- “The only way to solve this problem [macro trend] it’s with technology,” Dill says. “It cannot be an individual system.
How it works: Duos connects seniors and caregivers to a constellation of service providers, as well as a dedicated personal assistant, or “duo”, who coordinates these services and offers companionship.
- The startup addresses the social determinants of health (SDOH), easing needs such as transportation, food delivery, or house cleaning, while addressing care navigation needs and utilizing remaining Medicare benefits often unused.
- Duos simplifies the disparate nature of information in the healthcare system, adds Ulfers. “When you are a caregiver and you go to seek services, it is scattered in the wind.
Between the lines: Duos aligns with payers’ recognition that non-clinical social services are essential for managing chronic disease and keeping aging adults out of more expensive care settings.
- Duos “is at the intersection of what payers are looking for and consumer needs,” says Dill.
- The duos amid funding signed a new partnership with Geisinger, which is known for SDOH initiatives like the farm fresh program.
- It also partners with Magellan Healthcare and other national and regional payers and providers spanning 7 states.
Be smart: Regulatory changes enacted by CMS in 2020 were a “category-building moment,” Ulfers says, allowing services offered by Taste Duos to be paid for.
- This included the expansion of what CMS defines as “primarily health-related benefits” and new SSBCI benefits which gave MA plans the flexibility to offer richer benefits in this vein to members with chronic conditions. .
And after: The funding will fuel advancements in technology (including a new easy-to-use app), new hires, including more than 100 additional “duos,” and additional payer-provider partnerships.