Justin Boogaard got his startup idea from his grandmother.
Betty Luce, 85, has glaucoma and wanted an alternative to driving herself. Luce knew her grandson used Uber and asked him to call the rideshare service for her. Boogaard told her the company doesn’t have a phone number, to which she replied, “You should make that.”
JUSTIN BOOGAARD, 25
DAVID LUNG, 29
GoGoGrandparent, an automated concierge for seniors to call and order services such as rides, meals, and grocery delivery through a dial phone
So Boogaard and partner David Lung built GoGoGrandparent over Christmas, when on vacation with their families in New Mexico. The platform is an automated concierge connecting seniors with services such as rides, meals, and grocery delivery through a dial phone. New users register online or via a phone call with the co-founders and then order services through an automated touch-tone system.
Luce, who lives in Torrance, shared GoGoGrandparent with her friends; the company got some press and has since handled about 1,000 calls from 400 users.
The idea made particular sense to Boogaard when he realized the elder care industry’s resources will be stretched thin over the next two decades as the senior population booms.
He and Lung funded their Studio City firm with capital saved from co-founding a previous startup that recruited contractors for companies that rely on freelancers. They wouldn’t disclose revenue, but said it’s been growing by 20 percent week over week for the last six months.
Because Boogaard and Lung are the only two employees, they’ve been working nonstop, making the most of their limited free time by watching ultrashort cartoons or sports highlights.
“I don’t have time to watch the whole game,” lamented Lung, a fan of pro basketball’s Golden State Warriors.
Aside from getting little sleep, the biggest challenge has been dealing with advertising given that older adults rarely go online and can be difficult to reach through other digital means. Instead, GoGoGrandparent turned to word of mouth.
“Every time we get a caller, we send them a brochure that describes how to use our services and a brochure for a friend,” Boogaard said. “We’re seeing more and more people coming in from friends and family.”
All the time spent talking on the phone with users has yielded invaluable customer feedback, not to mention delightful surprises. For example, Boogaard was registering new user Robert McGee and realized they lived in the same apartment building.
Perhaps less shocking, many phone calls have come with slightly awkward matchmaking offers.
“I get propositioned by these grandmothers to meet their granddaughters, especially the Russian grandmothers.” Boogaard said. “It’s awesome. I’m fine with that.”
— Marni Usheroff
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