If you’ve read any of our TakeOff series, where we interview founders of startups, you’ll know one thing lies at the heart of any successful product: it solves a problem. The problem faced by Katherine Wells, CEO of Serenity, was “juggling 37 different providers who cared for my parents in the last ten years of their lives”.
Rather than wait for someone else to provide a solution, Katherine took action. She developed a platform for sharing patient information: Serenity. Katherine describes it as “the only network that allows ageing service providers, older adults and their loved ones to ‘care together'”.
In addition to her CEO role at Serenity, she is the Chief Inspiration Maverick at Mavericks of Senior Living. This brings together different-minded individuals across the senior living ecosystem to create true innovation, including spearheading a new event called National Collaboration In Aging.
Prior to her work in senior care, Katherine spent over 25 years as a software marketing executive. She also spent more than ten years as a family caregiver. Katherine is a frequent speaker and thought leader within the industry, and — as you will soon discover — she is passionate about discussing the topic of ageing.
What’s your elevator pitch?
Serenity is the only network that allows ageing service providers, older adults and their loved ones to “care together”. Its web, mobile and Alexa assistant products power the network to enable real-time, HIPAA-compliant communication, collaboration and education. Providers and communities increase revenue and lower expenses, while families and older adults get better care and greater peace of mind.
What made you launch a startup?
Serenity is a direct result of my personal experience juggling 37 different providers who cared for my parents in the last ten years of their lives. Providers who did not talk to each other and did not talk to the family, including myself as the Power of Attorney for both medical and financial care…
I found it to be an unnecessarily complex, siloed, and antiquated world — making it hard to ensure I was providing and supporting the best possible quality of life for the people I loved the most. Always a “problem solver”, I interviewed 300 people across the senior care continuum at all levels and roles. What I learned was startling: communication in senior care was massively broken and outdated, wasting valuable time for those whose skills are best applied to providing care rather than making 250 copies of an activity calendar change and dropping it at each resident’s door in a senior living community.
I developed a small pilot program and tested it with my parents. Once I was able to prove that I could get two providers sharing the care of an older adult to communicate and collaborate with each other over Serenity, I then took it to the market and have since seen it grow to over 350 providers using the product.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Serenity Connect set out to disrupt an industry that for decades has been resistant to change, especially in regard to the digital wave that so many other industries have openly and fully embraced. Contrary to popular belief, seniors are not as technologically challenged as we might think. Many of them would like to learn new technology! And we provide technology in a way that fits naturally into their day, almost like it’s not even thought about as technology.
By challenging the notion that older adults lack technological proficiency and embracing the advantages of AI and smart devices, we can unleash fresh opportunities to enhance the well-being and social connections of seniors throughout their caregiving experience. Serenity Connect is dedicated to bringing trailblazing technology to senior living and hospice communities, transforming them into “smart communities” and building that connection.
With smart coordination and integrated, consolidated and transparent communication, Serenity meets providers, care teams, families and, most importantly, older adults, where they are. The cutting-edge technology reduces staff burden while increasing resident engagement and vital family connectedness. With Serenity’s Alexa for Smart Properties for Senior Living deployment, Serenity is giving a new opportunity and lifeline to older adults who so desperately need and want connection.
Can you talk us through your journey so far? What’s a major milestone you’ve reached?
In our continued mission to improve the lives of older adults and those who love and care for them, Serenity implemented new, innovative technology integrated with Amazon’s Senior Living solution from Alexa Smart Properties. By marrying Amazon’s Alexa voice AI and video technology with Serenity’s platform, Serenity’s custom Alexa deployment serves as a personalised, digital concierge – bringing simplicity and connection to an otherwise complex, siloed system.
An example of the success of this innovation is seen in the statistics from The Gardens at St. Elizabeth senior community. Benefits include:
- Reducing strain on overburdened staff and positively impacting staff retention
- Increasing independence and engagement among seniors
- Improving accessibility with bilingual, memory, hearing and visual challenges
- Closing the distance gap between seniors and their loved ones
- Improving staff, resident and family satisfaction
- Ensuring the right people get the right information at the right time in the right way
A study performed by Serenity and The Gardens at St. Elizabeth found that the platform saves five to ten hours per week, per key staff member at the facility. In addition, the platform reduces resident isolation and loneliness with 90% daily engagement by older adults (80+).
Where do you hope your startup will be in ten years?
In the short term, Serenity plans to extend its reach further into two key verticals — hospice and senior living smart communities — helping lead their digital transformation to gain competitive advantage and improve profitability. In the next 18 months, you will see some major senior living chains adopting Serenity as their primary communication platform, including Serenity’s implementation of Alexa for Senior Living.
We continue to lead the digital transformation of senior care to help our customers gain a competitive advantage and improve profitability.
Looking beyond that, Serenity continues to grow its network of care providers across the entire senior care continuum, working tirelessly to reduce the friction of the senior care journey for everyone involved.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
I firmly believe that life is a journey, not a destination. I’d tell my younger self “Hang in there, girl!” You’ll stop worrying about what other people think and discover your own unique truth. When I sat in my truth, I knew that Serenity needed me to start it. And frankly, life is short! We need to follow our passions wherever they pull us.
What would you say to potential investors reading this interview?
Dear potential investors,
If you truly look to back high ceiling, high growth disruptive businesses, Serenity is in your wheelhouse. Your expertise and connections are as equally needed as your capital to fund the growth. Age-tech is in its infancy and now is the time to get in with Serenity on the ground floor. You will see a big jump up in valuation in our next round, so place your early bets now and you’ll see the returns you, and we, are looking for.
Here is a short overview deck, and my calendar to schedule a pitch.
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