Comcast Ventures-Backed Papa Raises $18M, Sets Sights on National Expansion

Papa — the on-demand companionship service for older adults and their families — has added a substantial amount of new capital to its coffers.

The Miami-based startup announced Tuesday it has raised another $18 million for its Series B round, with investment led by Comcast Ventures, Comcast Corporation’s investment arm.

The new funding brings Papa’s total funds raised to $31 million.

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Launched in 2018, Papa coordinates companionship and assistance services for older adults. When the startup initially launched, its core business model was built around the concept of connecting seniors to college students to prevent social isolation and loneliness, both of which can have a devastating impact on an individual’s overall health.

Papa has dramatically added to its model since then, however, catching the attention of national partners such as Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Alignment Healthcare, Priority Health and others.

Papa will use the newly announced $18 million to add to its team, expand into more markets and continue building out its service mix, founder and CEO Andrew Parker told Home Health Care News.

“We are working on some new product developments and strategies to go beyond companionship, to expand beyond just older adults,” Parker said. “We can support both families and older adults as they age, doing that through Medicare Advantage, managed Medicaid and employer benefits.”

Papa currently operates across 17 states. It has plans to expand to all 50 states by January 2021, propelled by the massive spotlight on isolation, aging and senior care following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think social determinants of health have obviously become a massive topic,” Parker said. “That’s true in general, but particularly in health care. And loneliness and isolation have only been exacerbated because of the pandemic.”

Parker declined to comment on Papa’s revenue and whether it is turning a profit, but said his company is committed to building a sustainable business as it rapidly grows. Since launching, Papa has grown membership by 20% on a month-over-month basis, according to statistics from the startup.

Looking ahead, Papa expects to roughly quintuple membership in the year ahead.

“As I mentioned, people’s eyes are really open to the fact that social determinants have a negative impact on health,” Parker said. “By pairing an older adult or a family with a Papa Pal, we can do a lot of different things to improve health outcomes and provide a return on investment.”

Comcast Ventures is consistently ranked among the 10 most active corporate venture capital funds.

Its current portfolio includes fin-tech startup Brightside, project-management company Hive and Vox, a digital media business. Past investments have included Lyft (Nasdaq: LYFT) and Slack (NYSE: WORK), which have since gone public.

“Papa is enabling a growing number of older Americans to age at home, while reducing the cost of care for health plans and creating meaningful jobs for companion care professionals,” Fatima Husain, principal at Comcast Ventures, said in a press release. “We are excited to join the Papa team as they build upon the company’s innovative solution and accelerate on its path to grow nationally.”

Additional investors in Papa’s Series B round include Canaan, Initialized Capital, Sound Ventures and Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates. Magnify Ventures, Adobe’s Scott Belsky, Operator Partners and others also participated.

Humana began partnering with Papa in November 2018 as part of a test-and-learn pilot linked to the Louisville, Kentucky-based health insurer’s “Bold Goal’s” initiative, which focuses on social determinants of health.

“This is another way for us to meet members where they are — in their home — and look at them as individuals instead of their diagnoses,” Caraline Coats, vice president of Humana’s “Bold Goal” initiative and office of population health, told HHCN at the time.

Apart from its Papa Pals, the company also has a technology platform that allows it to collect useful data on behalf of health plans and families, specifically tracking objectives meant to increase quality of life.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to continue to grow within current health plan clients, as well as add a lot of new ones, which is allowing us to go national,” Parker said.

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