Elevator Pitch: Curo

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Tim & Matt McDougal from Curo.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Curo provides family with reassurance that their loved one is remaining independent and can continue to care for themselves — even when they aren't there to physically check-in. Using non-intrusive sensors, that do not require residents to wear anything or change their behaviour in any way, family can be alerted when common issues begin to arise. A rising house temperature on a hot day, a lack of activity around the home, or even just a change in behaviour like getting out less, are all examples of the kind of insight that can be provided to family automatically using Curo. We provide feedback via a smart phone application which aims to change the way the world looks at ageing-in-place and the relationship between family and their loved ones.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

The space we are in is a highly emotional one and it's something that almost every family will unfortunately have to deal with at some point. It does however mean that if Curo can have an impact on people and the way they support their ageing family then Curo will have a lasting effect. We hope this translates to people becoming advocates for our service.

Customer referrals for us will be the single biggest indicator as to what impact Curo is having on our customers. For that reason, our focus is on better understanding our customers what we can do to better support them.

We have bootstrapped the business using our own funds so far, but are open to funding from the right partner should the opportunity present itself.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

Whether we like to admit it or not, when it comes to aged care, most of us automatically focus on reducing independence as the best way to support seniors. Whether it is taking away the car licence or even taking people out of their home and moving them into aged cared facilities. Of course most of the time it's done with the best of intentions, but the motivation usually comes down to reducing emergencies. Unfortunately this is usually in direct conflict with what the senior people actually want for themselves.

Our challenge is about changing the thought process from 'what is the worst case scenario' to 'how can I best support independence'? We don't take this challenge lightly, but this shift from emergency thinking to well-being will without a doubt have the biggest impact on our business.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

Thankfully, we learned early on that independence is unique for every family and for every individual. Whilst creating a one-size-fits-all approach might be easier from a product development perspective, we are glad that we took the extra time to ensure Curo is customisable to each of our customers. The insights that each family get from Curo are unique and we feel that's most in line with our mission of supporting independence.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Wunderlist. It's a fairly new addition to my suite of applications, but it almost instantly became one I couldn't live without. Its simplicity has been a true time-saver. Being part of a startup means wearing many hats and always having too much to do. In this environment, it is too easy for things to get missed. Having such a simple and accessible tool to keep track of my to-do list has been brilliant.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

On the first day of my first full-time job, my boss said to me "Always carry a pen". It might seem strange that this the single best piece of advice I've ever received and in hindsight it was probably more about him having a reason to show off his expensive Mont Blanc than passing on advice. However, it's stuck with me and as an entrepreneur it's held me in good stead. New ideas come and go all the time for all of us, but it's been so important to put them down. Sure we all carry phones/laptops around, but at this stage of technology, nothing matches the ability to quickly jot a note down or even draw a picture.

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