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This Company is Helping Solve the Caregiver Shortage

Stefa Sokolowski

November 23, 2021

We sat down with Alex Oosterveen, Caribou Founder and ventureLAB Alumni, to learn more about his goals for digital health. Caribou Rewards is an easy-to-implement tool that transforms care organizations’ ability to recruit, retain, and recognize staff.

 

Tell us about what Caribou seeks to accomplish.

At Caribou, we are on a mission to solve the caregiver staffing crisis. We are working towards a world where caregiving is a sought-after career that provides a sense of purpose and financial stability. In this world, care organizations no longer struggle to hire and retain staff. Families will have consistent help from caregivers who feel valued and deliver care with a sense of pride.

But accomplishing this mission is anything but simple. Our team believes that part of the answer lies in helping care organizations become exceptional employers. Employers who listen to their staff, compensate them well, and delight their workforce with meaningful rewards and recognition. Over the long-run, employers who offer the best caregiver experience will win every single time. Improving the caregiver experience has two profound impacts on the industry: (1) It makes existing workers happier and less likely to leave and (2) it makes the industry more attractive to new joiners. 

Caribou Rewards is an easy-to-implement tool that transforms care organizations’ ability to recruit, retain, and recognize staff.

 

What are key decisions or actions that gave your company a boost?

This is an interesting one, because when we started the company, we were an entirely different business.

In healthcare, you have to be aligned with an organization’s number one or number two priority. We became aware, especially as COVID-19hit, that our original solution wasn’t a priority for our customers. As a result, we were running uphill every day to try to grow and get more sales.

It was early 2021 that we realized we had to go back to the drawing board and pivot. There was a critical shortage of care workers in the industry, growing demand driven by our aging population, rising chronic conditions, and so on. We made the decision to focus on this number one problem in the industry and tackle it head on with a solution that’s easy to understand, easy to adopt, and valuable to healthcare organizations.

We are really happy that we simplified our offering and pivoted to be directly aligned with our customer’s top priority.

 

How did you decide on this idea and what were your first steps?

In May, we launched a small minimum viable product with one home care company to drive more  staff referrals. We quickly became their top source of hiring, tapping their existing staff networks and enabling them to completely turn off their dependence on job boards. We gradually added on some more agencies, fine tuned the product and made it more scalable so that we could take on a higher volume of customers more quickly. We also introduced recognition points. Employers appreciate the value their staff are adding to the organization so we built into the platform a really easy way to give that recognition.

It was valuable to have space at ventureLAB, and get together with the team in person when we could. Colin Hung, our Health Stream advisor, has been a super valuable resource for us. He provided us with tangible advice, and industry connections as well.

 

Where do you hope to take Caribou?

Right now, it’s still very early on in our journey. We’re working with a few thousand caregivers in Ontario, but one day we want that to be millions.

Over time, we hope our tools empower care organizations to delight frontline caregivers and become the most desirable employers in their community. We aim to provide transparency and accountability in the labour market, so that caregivers know what to expect at various employers, and the best employers are rewarded with more applicants for their open jobs. Ultimately, we hope this attracts more people to work in the care industry. We are going to need all the help we can get to keep up with growing demand for services.

 

About Caribou

At Caribou, we are on a mission to solve the caregiver staffing crisis. We are working towards a world where caregiving is a sought after career that provides a sense of purpose and financial stability. In this world, care organizations no longer struggle to hire and retain staff. Families will have consistent help from caregivers who feel valued and deliver care with a sense of pride. Quality of life for everyone improves dramatically.

Our software is a super easy-to-implement tool that transforms care organizations’ ability to recruit, retain, and recognize staff. With Caribou, our customers are able to grow their care staff by over 10% in 90 days and elevate the way they recognize and retain. Learn more at www.caribou.care

 

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.

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