CINCINNATI -- Nicole Christopher missed her father’s dying breaths, and the chance for one last goodbye, because she was working on his financial paperwork.
The Montgomery resident, 47, became his caregiver after he was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a position many millions more are expected to find themselves in as the “silver tsunami” of baby boomers heads into retirement.
“I realized what an overwhelming burden it is to be a family caregiver,” she said.
Family caregivers spend an average of 4.7 years caring for their loved one, she said, and spend between $10,000 and $15,000 annually of their own money doing so. This, while they’re also trying to save for retirement and college for their children.
She found most family caregivers were just like her, with full-time jobs and children at home. And she found that although the internet offers lots of information about caring for elderly parents, it’s not all in one place.
So she conceived of Second Nurture, an app that’s intended to do four things: help caregivers find a community, teach them about caregiving topics, coordinate care for their loved one and match them with service providers.
The idea is to help caregivers take care of the details, Christopher said, so they can take care of themselves and their families.
She’s now in the process of seeking funding to create the app.
Since she started the company three years ago, she’s invested thousands of dollars of her own money to start the business and create a website, which is now at secondnurture.com but will soon migrate to Second Nurture, she said. The website will give viewers info on the company and feature a blog on caregiving, she said, and eventually a demo of the app.
At one point in developing the business, she said, she had to scrap the software she had and start over, because it didn’t do what she wanted it to.
“There’s a saying in the startup world -- fail early,” she said. “I feel I’ve already done that and made important decisions around that pivot. The pivot was in the execution, not the vision.”
How will her business make money?
Through paid subscriptions. Depending on their size, businesses would pay $40,000 to $100,000 for an unlimited number of employees to use the app. Individuals would pay $99 a year for the first year and $49 in subsequent years.
Christopher is working on getting businesses to sign letters of intent to sign up for the service, she said, and hopes to have them by the end of the year.
What’s the target market?
Among businesses, Christopher believes home health care companies, senior living providers and the like would make good early adopters, and some have expressed interest in signing up.
But any business that wants to make it easier for employees to take care of their aging loved ones could be interested, she said.
Among individuals, she’s primarily targeting women, she said, because “they understand that the caregiving journey will change you as a person.”
Has she owned a business before?
She co-founded a dental practice with her former husband, who is a dentist on the West Side. She sold her share to him when they divorced in 2009.
Now, she works for TransAmerica as a financial professional.
What’s been the most challenging thing about this business?
Trying to raise money, which Christopher said isn’t in her skill set. “I thought it was more science than art, but it’s really a little more the other,” she said.
Completing the LAUNCH class of Bad Girl Ventures, a local accelerator for women-owned businesses. She hopes that will help make connections with local angel investors who might be interested in investing in her business and taking it to the next level.
She’s identified a burning need in the market with a lot of interested stakeholders, said Bonnie Rib, a former Johnson & Johnson executive who mentors Christopher through Bad Girl Ventures.
One of her biggest challenges will be to identify her customers and her revenue sources, Rib said. A second challenge will be to ensure her website is well-respected, with relevant and valuable content.
“If it could be the Consumer Reports of health care, that would be great,” Rib said.