CareBand: Ideas On Business Development
Imagine this. You’re out to a movie with your grandma when you tell her you have to run to the restroom. When you return a few minutes later, grandma is nowhere in site. She suffers from Alzheimer’s, and like the estimated 60% of the 5.7 million Americans afflicted with the neurodegenerative disease, her forgetfulness causes her to wander.
Dementia-driven wandering isn’t just a nuisance, it can have dire consequence and is, at best, terrifying for caregivers and loved ones. Due to exposure from safety risks like inclement weather and falls, the survival rate for a dementia-related wanderer missing for 12 hours is 93%. That’s one in 14 seniors that don’t make it home. When missing for 24 hours, the survival rate falls to a saddening 33%.
Chicago-based CareBand aims to change that. They’ve created a location-based wearable solution to solve the problem of dementia-driven wandering for memory-impaired seniors. Their bracelets use LoRa technology to pinpoint a senior’s exact location without the use of GPS, WiFi, or cellular infrastructure. It has the potential to eliminate the deadly risks associated with wandering and offers both caregivers and family members much needed peace of mind.
But CareBand isn’t stopping there. With the data collected from their wearables, the startup uses advanced data analytics and algorithms to, as their website says, “analyze daily activities for indicators of UTIs, cognitive decline, and other complications” resulting from dementia. In other words, CareBand is using predictive analytics to improve senior care. Now that’s cool.
Where Business Development Comes In
CareBand is still at an early stage, having spent much of 2018 putting initial versions of the product into the hands, er, wrists, of a small number of individuals and gathering feedback. After the startup finds their initial product/market fit and validates their business model, they’ll need to strategically find ways to continue to grow both users and revenue. As a small startup, the company can use business development to explore a number of opportunities — including product developments and partnerships — to do just that.
Product Developments: CareNecklace, CareButton, and More
CareBand’s only current product is their bracelet. After they find their product/market fit and are market ready, the company can make a few subtle design changes to easily expand their product offerings to include necklaces, belt clips, buttons, and other smart wearables with the same technology.
The idea here is pretty simple: some seniors are not able or willing to wear things on their wrists. CareNecklace or CareBeltClip options would solve that dilemma. The company could also produce smart CareButtons capable of being affixed to walkers, wheelchairs, and other equipment to understand their precise location and usage data. This would provide another way to find a wanderer, as well as offer a way to keep tabs on expensive medical equipment. Not only this, but data analytics on equipment usage has value in its own right. Long story short, expanding their product offering for the senior demographic would be a low cost way for CareBand to further increase market penetration and drive revenue.
Another startup in the dementia care space is Seoul-based Lineable. They’re using similar technology to create smartwatch-like devices for the same purpose of tracking seniors with dementia. Creating this sort of wearable would almost certainly be more expensive to bring to market than producing products like the CareNecklace, but is another option nonetheless.
Product development is a way for company growth to occur internally. Partnerships on the other hand take an external approach to achieve growth. With CareBand’s current offering targeted towards seniors with dementia, the number of partnerships that the company can forge to gain brand-recognition and drive growth are endless. Partnerships with organizations like the Medical Alert Monitoring Association, the Dementia Society of America, and the Alzheimer’s Association would improve credibility and vastly increase exposure to their target demographic and the people that care for them. These partnerships might entail regular event sponsorships and naming rights, or becoming an official product/service partner.
Another option CareBand can take is to create affiliate marketing partnerships with companies that serve similar demographics. CareBand could offer pay-per-click compensation or commissions on sales facilitated through their affiliates. Possible affiliates include the organizations I listed earlier, as well as companies like Life Alert, AARP, dementia care blogs, care facilities themselves, and countless more.
Like I mentioned earlier, CareBand intends to use data analytics to improve senior care. For example, their technology allows caregivers to monitor how many times someone is using the bathroom, and predict a UTI long before other symptoms — like a fever — present themselves. CareBand stands to profit greatly by responsibly selling this data to interested parties such as medical device makers and care facilities who seek to gain more insight into their customers and their behaviors.
Filling the Void For Other Care-Based Demographics
CareBand’s technology is fundamentally valuable because it enables the determination of precise location without the need for traditional GPS, WiFi, and cellular infrastructure. This means that their location technology has use cases beyond the tracking of seniors with dementia. One demographic that would benefit from this sort of monitoring are people with mental disabilities. Another highly applicable demographic is children. Parents are perpetually worried about their children and where they are, meaning every child is a potential customer. However, the most value would be found with more niche demographics like blind children or children with physical or mental disabilities. CareBand would offer caregivers of children and those with mental disabilities the same advantage as it does for those who care for people with dementia: another set of eyes.
It makes sense for CareBand to focus on and delight one market — seniors — before moving on to other demographics. When they’re ready, expanding into these other markets would allow CareBand to diversify themselves and drastically increase their total market size, providing more avenues for growth and becoming more attractive targets to investors.
CareBand is on track to solve the serious, life-threatening problem of dementia-related wandering. They’re offering caregivers and loved ones of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia another set of eyes, and more importantly, an opportunity to make wandering-related fatalities a thing of the past. Their technology has far reaching implications, and I’m excited to watch their high-impact solution become reality.
Jordan Hirsch is on a mission to use business development as a means to propel growth in innovative healthcare startups. He’s a recent biomedical engineering graduate with a passion for entrepreneurship, founding his first startup while in college.
Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanthirsch/