AOL Local Vet Chris Spanos Launches Local Service for Seniors
SeniorChecked.com, a Washington D.C.-area start-up targeting the $3 trillion elder-care market officially launched today. The company is working to develop SeniorChecked into a national symbol for seniors and their families to find trusted local service providers that are screened through SeniorChecked’s extensive verification process.
The market is enormous. Seniors are the No. 1 group for fraud and financial abuse, effecting one in five seniors, totaling some $2.6 billion per year with unscrupulous service providers committing an estimated 56 percent of the cases. This fraud is only expected to rise as 93 percent of seniors choose to stay in their homes, according to the American Geriatric Society, combined with the senior population doubling to 80 million over the next 30 years. The fact that a growing segment of this population is becoming increasingly reliant upon assistance from adult children, who often live considerable distances away, and have few suitable resources to guide their choice among service providers further complicates this already challenging situation.
The company is led by CEO Chris Spanos, who has a long history in the local market. Spanos formerly ran the Local and Vertical businesses at AOL. He has largely reassembled a team of AOL veterans who were previously responsible for turning AOL Local from a money-losing local business to one with margins above 40 percent.
The SeniorChecked directory includes a database of 3 million U.S. businesses (via Acxiom) across 24 service categories that are critical to the senior market. Businesses that have been SeniorChecked will appear first in the search results followed by the non-SeniorChecked listings. Consumers may request that businesses become SeniorChecked on the Web site, a clever marketing and lead generation angle.
Businesses and individual professional agents may become SeniorChecked for a small yearly fee of between $199 and $499. The verification process includes more than two-dozen different checks including dives into local state and county court records, criminal and sex offender checks among others.
Anyone who has dealt with services for an elder parent or grandparent seems to have a horror story or two about how hard it is to find trusted businesses and services for aging family members. Stories of fraud and abuse are a constant theme in the news, so we would expect businesses that clear the verification hurdle to see more qualified business.
Spanos would not disclose financing plans other than to say, “We are getting a good reception from the venture and angel community.” We’re not surprised to hear this given the team’s background. Timing is on SeniorChecked’s side as Redbeacon seemed to ignite Valley Fever last month, coming off winning the TechCrunch 50. That company closed a Series A Round of $7.5 million lead by Venrock and Mayfield, two prestigious Silicon Valley venture groups.
SeniorChecked is not alone in the local verification space. ServiceMagic is already exceeding $200 million in revenues annually.
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I think SeniorChecked is a great concept. I have a mother in law that is at that age where this service will come in handy. Trying to find trusted businesses to work for your elderly family is not an easy task.