Holly Shure and Jan Phillips think of their business, the Elder Friends Network, as the Uber of elder care. It allows families who live far away from their elderly loved ones to book a visit for them with a trained friend to help keep loneliness at bay.
Loneliness can double a person’s risk for dementia and it can be as destructive to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, Phillips said.
The new network was one of five Durango companies to pitch investors Thursday at Fort Lewis College. The showcase was the culmination of their time in the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs. The SCAPE is an intensive 6-month program that provides $30,000 in seed funding and mentorship in such areas as product development, marketing and finance.
In three years, the program has launched 15 companies that have created 40 jobs, SCAPE Director Elizabeth Marsh said in an email.
Before asking for investment, Elder Friends Network launched a pilot program in Durango to test the need for these social visits. They recruited 16 people to make social visits and four elders.
The anecdotes from friends have been positive thus far, they said.