Carewell serves as an e-commerce shop and online learning center for caregivers. It raised $5 million from investors and NextView Ventures. (Carewell)

Carewell is a winner of FierceHealthcare's Fierce 15 awards. See our other honorees here.

Carewell was formed based on a personal family experience with the lack of help and resources provided to caregivers.

Co-founder and CEO Bianca Padilla needed supplies to help her mother take care of her grandmother at home.

During that time, she realized more resources were needed to provide help to caregivers. In fact, Padilla and her now-husband, Jonathan Magolnick, co-founder and COO, came up with the idea for Carewell on their first date in 2015. They launched the company that year to offer an e-commerce service and support network for caregivers. Their mission was to help caregivers navigate a job that can be socially isolating and time-intensive as well as emotionally exhausting.

The company grew out of the home of Padilla’s in-laws into its Charlotte, North Carolina, office. Now, the company has raised $5 million from investors, NextView Ventures and Primetime Partners in 2020.

Carewell offers personal care products, cleaning supplies, household goods and meal-replacement options. Its focus is on keeping customers at the heart of its business. It serves as an e-commerce shop and online learning center for caregivers.

“As organizations rapidly scale up to meet increased demand, they need to keep users and their needs at the forefront of their company mission,” Padilla, the company’s CEO, told Fierce Healthcare. “We’ve created a one-stop shop for independent caregivers to get the products, support and resources they need to care for their loved ones.”

In addition to personal care items, the company offers learning content to help caregivers navigate Medicare and offers advice on exercise and when to schedule meals if a person has dementia. It also offers firsthand stories from caregivers.

There are more than 53 million caregivers nationwide, and about 43.5 million of the caregivers have provided unpaid care within the last year, according to the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Many caregivers have also been stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic this year as this care moves into the home. Carewell has doubled its revenue during the pandemic. Its revenue and customer base grew by 2.5x from 2019 to 2020, and the company tripled its headcount year over year during that time.

Fierce insights with Carewell CEO Bianca Padilla

CEO Bianca Padilla (Carewell)

What is your best piece of advice for launching a healthcare company that challenges the status quo?

The next generation of healthcare leaders needs to keep customers front and center by developing a human-first approach to service and care. Over the past year, many health tech companies have accelerated digitization to meet rapidly changing consumer demands during a global pandemic. In the midst of this digital development, healthcare leaders need to remember that every anonymized data point and product purchase represents a living, breathing human being looking for support. As organizations rapidly scale up to meet increased demand, they need to keep users and their needs at the forefront of their company mission.

What is the failure you’ve learned the best lesson from?

There’s a Steve Jobs quote I love that says “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” As a young entrepreneur, one of the toughest lines to walk is being open to new ideas from experienced peers and advisors while knowing when to say no to something that your gut tells you isn’t critical for the company at the moment. Being a CEO can be both crowded and lonely. You’re pulled into every meeting, but you’re ultimately responsible for saying yes or no to all of the ideas thrown your way, and for the first few years of Carewell’s existence, I was definitely more of a yes woman. I found myself working on projects that weren’t necessarily right for the business in its current state, which left less bandwidth for mission-critical initiatives. It sounds simple, but being prudent with my “yes” responses has clarified which initiatives are worth diving into right now and helped us carve out a very focused, intentional road map to success.

What is the book you recommend to other healthcare leaders?

I’m a big reader, so my list is long, but one of my recent favorites was “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott. Our leadership team has a great mix of seasoned experts and young talent, and we all take part in a quarterly book club. We often have widely varying perspectives on the current selection, but this one resonated with everyone in a similar way because it puts humanity at the forefront of being a leader. It’s possible to both care deeply and challenge directly. Brands need to remember to keep purpose and people in mind during every step of a company’s evolution.

What is your prediction for how the healthcare industry will change in 2021?

The healthtech industry is seeing massive growth in investment. In particular, there has been increased attention in home and elder care startups, with investments of over $368 million. This is a trend that will only accelerate over the next year given the harsh impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes and the growing size of the senior population, which brings ever-increasing demand for improved at-home healthcare products and services.

In light of the national conversation that is happening right now, what advice would you offer to healthcare leaders seeking to make a real impact on systemic problems of racism?

COVID-19 has exposed massive racial disparities in the healthcare industry. To develop meaningful and lasting impact, healthcare leaders need to identify gaps in access to services and resources, build a deep understanding of the challenges affecting underserved communities and look inward to build a more inclusive and equitable company culture that can effectively address the needs of the communities they serve. 

At Carewell, we recognized an opportunity to improve communication with our customers—caregivers navigating increasingly stressful responsibilities under COVID-19. As a result, we invested in our Care Team’s development by implementing an empathy training program that reinforced the importance of active listening, understanding and compassion. By building internal practices centered on empathy and diversity, healthcare leaders can build organizations that respond meaningfully to the systematic problems that drive inequality.