Honor CEO and co-founder Seth Sternberg has wanted to launch a platform like “Honor Expert” for the last eight years.
But the idea of being a liaison to seniors and their families for a wide variety of services – Honor Expert’s goal – wasn’t feasible without some serious scale, which Honor didn’t have in 2014 when it was founded.
Fast forward seven years.
Sternberg is in a room trying to convince Home Instead’s founders, Paul and Lori Hogan, to sell their business to Honor. He brings up the concept, and the Hogans like it. The reason they like the idea? They had an almost identical one in mind.
“Literally in the first meeting, we talked about the vision for what we wanted to build long term with Honor, and why we thought putting us and Home Instead together was good idea,” Sternberg told Home Health Care News. “This topic came up. We didn’t have the name for it at the time, but the idea of what is now Expert did come up. And they had the same concept. They had thought of the same thing.”
That meeting led to others, and Honor eventually did acquire Home Instead last year.
Before the two came together, their ideas for the concept of Expert never separately came to fruition. Home Instead didn’t have the technical capabilities to make it happen, and Honor did not have the scale.
Now that they are one organization, Sternberg figured it was the right time to deliver on his eight-year-old idea. If it works how Honor hopes it will, Home Instead’s massive home care network will give Honor Expert legs to stand on, and once it scales, it will lead to more referrals for Home Instead as well.
Officially unveiled in April, Honor Expert already has multiple business partners, including Amazon Business, Best Buy, SelectRX and Freshly, among others.
“I often say that people really need to think in terms of pie expansion, not zero-sum,” Sternberg said. “Because what Honor Expert does is create this whole new service for consumers. It gives them a whole new resource that they just are deeply lacking right now. And, at the same time, it creates even more inbound leads for Home Instead. So everybody wins.”
The goal is to be a “one-stop shop” for seniors seeking care or resources. Seniors and their families can call a toll-free number – with live personnel on the other end – or use an online portal for assistance while searching for aging services.
The concept is similar to A Place for Mom (APFM), which connects seniors and their families to health care providers, including at-home care agencies. On its end, APFM raised raised $175 million in January, which does prove the market for this general concept.
The reason there is such a wide-open market for this type of service still is because of the economics, Sternberg said.
“If you look at the market today, to deliver a service of giving good advice, where you’re going to call me with a problem and chat with me, that is really expensive to deliver,” he said. “And to deliver it well is particularly expensive. The only way that you can make it economically viable is a combination of technology for efficiency and scale. No one historically has had that combination of sufficient technology, plus sufficient scale, to be able to launch this for consumers in a way that will truly provide a good service. But we have that combination.”
In order to seek out partners, Honor first did research on where consumers would have the most needs. Then it approached these companies with the idea, and touted the value that Honor’s network could bring to those companies through these partnerships.
“There is a big distribution opportunity that we can offer to people,” Sternberg said. “So we do actually also have people approach us pretty frequently. And that gives us the ability to see a lot of stuff in market, and kind of make an assessment on who we think are the best of the best in different categories. And then we’re fortunate that people chose to work with us inside those categories.”
In addition to the aforementioned businesses that partnered with Honor, it also recently established a relationship with TruBlue Total House Care, which also partners with other home care companies like Right at Home to deliver home modification services.
Other partnerships are in the work as well, but Honor declined to comment on any ongoing conversations.
For now, it’s heads down on figuring out how to scale Honor Expert to a point where it can be a nationwide resource for seniors.
“I think the really exciting thing is that it lets us help more people than just those who use home care,” Sternberg said. “It really brought who we’re able to provide service to, to a much wider set of folks.”