Richmond Startup Turns Willing Empty Nesters and Retirees Into "Backup" Sons and Daughters


Naborforce's tech enabled platform connects older adults to a network of “Nabors” for social engagement and on-demand support with errands, transportation, and help around the home. Their company and culture is inspired by JOY to promote engaged, productive, and connected aging and living.

Several years ago, Founder of Naborforce, Paige Wilson, found herself trying to support her mother while also struggling to balance her demanding career and raising her daughter by herself. She had feelings of stress; she was torn, filled with guilt. All she could think was “I just need another ‘me’”.

After her mother passed away, Paige began working on a solution to what she saw as a void in the care continuum – a lack of resources for all those little things that she did for her mother, not the medical stuff. About the same time, Paige heard about a few friends who were driving Uber. She asked why, knowing they didn’t need the money. They told her that their kids had gone off to college and, while they weren’t interested in going back to their career or even getting a part time job, they were craving purpose and connection. For Paige, a lightbulb went off for a new business venture.

That was the birth of Naborforce – a marketplace platform that taps into this whole new workforce of caregivers – primarily empty nesters and retirees seeking purpose and a little income. By repurposing them into backup “sons and daughters on demand,” Naborforce can take some of that stress and guilt off of the adult children.

They had been experiencing double digit MOM growth and recorded yet another record month in February. Then COVID hit and they had to suspend in-person visits. They pivoted to Virtual and No-Contact visits but it was heartbreaking, in some ways, that when their clients needed them most they could not be there. Naborforce also launched a community campaign, the Kindnessgram which is a way for anyone in the community to offer to help an at-risk neighbor.

From a business perspective, COVID was a blow as well. As a startup, the number one goal is to survive and cash is king. They took swift action to preserve their precious capital by furloughing staff, cutting costs, and reducing their salaries.

Naborforce resumed in-person visits June 1st (with heightened safety protocols) and their revenue is already coming back quicker than expected. Some clients are committed to remaining self-isolated, but others need to get to medical appointments that have been postponed. Some need a little help at home because they want to continue to age-in-place and others are simply lonely.

They may still experience some challenges with COVID, but it's already clear that longer term trends are moving even more in their favor. Even fewer people want to move into senior living facilities and now the whole world understands the toll that isolation and loneliness takes.

One of the most unique things about Naborforce is that they are disrupting the front end of the care continuum. They have tapped into a whole new workforce to address the family caregiver shortage. Like Uber turned regular people into taxi drivers, they turn empty nesters and retirees into “backup” sons and daughters. These gig workers are not interested in traditional caregiver positions; they’re primarily motivated by purpose and connection. They have often experienced the stress of caring for older parents and value the flexibility of the Naborforce platform. Until now, there really wasn't much of an option for help with all those little things people do for their parents, the only option for support has been via at-home non-medical agencies which is really more medically focused. Naborforce is more focused on light assistance and human connection.

Their goal is to resume growth (though COVID may continue to have some impact in the short term) towards Williamsburg and Raleigh. Ultimately, they intend to scale nationally. The demographics that are driving the need for their solution are overwhelming. About 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 every single day for the next 10 years. By 2050, the number of people over 85 will triple. Meanwhile, the number of family caregivers available to care for their parents is going from 8 caregivers per person over 80 to only 3 by the year 2050.

In a number of ways, Naborforce’s biggest challenge is awareness. Since there has never been a resource like this for families and Seniors before, people don’t know Naborforce is an option. Most people think their only option is an at-home non-medical agency, but that is more appropriate when someone needs more "care" - things like help with bathing and feeding, etc. Plus, those agencies usually require contracts and minimums. Naborforce is so simple to use, all someone has to do is click a button to schedule a “Nabor”, and a friendly, vetted person shows up! It can even be for as little as one hour. It is similar to having a "son or daughter on-demand."

Naborforce is also always looking for compassionate people who might want to spend a few hours a week bringing joy to a Senior and maybe taking a little pressure off of the Senior’s family. Their “Nabors” are the most amazing folks and actually believe that they get more out of the connections than the clients -- and they earn a little flexible income while doing it! For more information about Naborforce, visit their website at www.naborforce.com.

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