A Tinder where to find caregivers. From Pamplona and by videoconference, Ernesto Bravo (Madrid, 1973), CEO of Familiados, thus summarizes the operation of the digital platform that he directs. The company was born in 2014 as an idea of his partner Roberto López, who decided to create it after finding it difficult to contact a professional who would accompany his father in the hospital. Today, the emerging technology company from Navarra puts more than 16,000 clients from all over Spain in contact with the more than 4,200 specialists in the care of children, the elderly or dependent people who offer their services through it.
Ask. What is Familiar?
Answer. It is a community of people who care, to which families who have children, the elderly, people with dependency can turn to contact professional caregivers. The platform also serves residencies to select staff or manage specific aid.
P. How are you supporting residences during the pandemic?
R. During the first wave of the pandemic we opened our database to residences so that they could find professionals. Through Families, more than 500 caregivers have made substitutions in residences and we have incorporated the service permanently.
P. How else has your project evolved during the health crisis?
R. At first the pandemic held us back. On March 14, 2020, transactions through the platform went from 100 to 0 because being confined at home, caregivers were no longer needed. For this reason, we focus on helping residences. The big topic from the second semester of 2020 was what to do with homebound children, so we included this service as well.
P. Is digitization working in your favor?
R. Yes, it has been the big bet of this year. It was super important to launch the application including chat and video call. We have also activated, a few days ago, a map with geolocation to be able to locate the closest available caregivers. Thanks to all this, we started to grow very quickly, and in 2021 we have multiplied the activity of the platform tenfold.
P. But now is the irruption of the omicron variant affecting them?
R. Yes. In recent weeks, due to the sixth wave, the Familiar activity has suddenly started to slow down. For our financing round it is very bad, because the investor profile in Spain is not risky and requires safe metrics, which is complicated in a pandemic.
P. Despite this, have they been able to attract investment?
R. A part. We have closed the first part of the round, of half a million euros with the entry of Federació Farmacèutica, a cooperative that has more than 3,000 pharmacies, and we continue to have the support of all the original partners and investors such as Novaltia, Grupo Intro Capital, Biloba Artal and the Navarra Development Society (Sodena) that entered a year ago. Our intention is to close the second part of the round in September, with a million and a half more.
P. What will they use this funding for?
R. We will transition to a one-week, monthly, and yearly subscription model, the prices of which are not yet defined. If you don’t pay, you will still be able to find caregivers, but you will see a more limited number of candidates. We also plan to invest in the brand and launch the platform en masse in pharmacies, to help their clients find caregivers.
P. They have received more than 65,000 applications from professionals, of which 4,200 have been selected. Under what criteria?
R. It is important that they are who they say they are and that that is clear. 95% have adequate training for what they offer. We ask them for certificates of professionalism and previous work experience, bank account and ID.
P. How does your algorithm work?
R. We don’t have an algorithm like Glovo’s. The rating is done only by customers with their ratings. We value the proximity and we show the most of the price range that you want to pay but there is no one below four stars because if there is a bad evaluation, we call and see what happened.
P. Have you expelled caretakers from the platform?
R. There are not many cases. A dozen maximum. It is usually because they do not show up for a service without giving any explanation.
P. How are caregivers hired?
R. The matching [el encuentro entre el cuidador que ofrece el servicio y la residencia o la familia que lo demanda] It is very similar to the one on Tinder. Once agreed, the contract can be made through the platform, since we offer the services of an agency that manages it, or directly on your own.
P. Are Familiar professionals considered false freelancers like riders?
R. No, because they do not work for Familiar. We are more of a Tinder than a Glovo. Glovo pays the riders, we do not. You can hire them advised by Family Members or on your own.
P. Are these procedures simple?
R. They could be more so if the administrations took a bigger step on the issue of digitization, so that registrations and deletions could be automated, which would benefit the country’s economy. As it is now, it is not collected and not everything is listed, because the procedures cost more time than the service.
P. Will machines take care of us in the future?
R. Technology can be very supportive of care. The future in which machines take care of us will be distant. The support of technology is going to be important because we want to grow old at home, but there is an accompanying part that humans make better of machines. Caring is an inherent work of living in society. And we can and must do better.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.