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Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs backs Umbrella, a group market for boomers



Roughly 55 million individuals within the U.S. are 65 or older, which involves round 16% of the inhabitants. Between the 2000 and 2010 census, the 65+ age group elevated by 15.1% — notably higher than the 9.7% progress charge attributed to the broader inhabitants.
As individuals become old, key questions round dwelling preparations inevitably come up — ought to they transfer to a multi-residence retirement dwelling, or maybe transfer in with household? However a survey by the American Affiliation of Retired Individuals (AARP) signifies that 87% of adults aged 65+ would favor to “age in place,” that’s, dwell in their very own dwelling and group independently, no matter their age, revenue, or talents.
In opposition to this backdrop, Umbrella is getting down to assist householders of their later years join with others of their neighborhood by way of a membership-based market.
Based in 2017, the Brooklyn, New York-based firm at the moment introduced a $5 million seed spherical led by Thrive Capital, with participation from Alphabet’s city innovation offshoot Sidewalk Labs, Impressed Capital, Refactor Capital, Maveron, Collaborative Fund, Trailmix, Field Group, and a number of particular person traders.
Neighborhood assist
A bit like a “TaskRabbit for seniors,” Umbrella invitations area people members to enroll and supply their providers — something from transferring bins to shoveling snow, altering mild bulbs, portray fences, raking leaves, or cleansing homes. These group members are what Umbrella seek advice from as “neighbors,” they usually don’t work free of charge — jobs are sometimes set at $16 per hour, although neighbors can elect to obtain much less cash, with the distinction going towards discounted work for lower-income seniors within the neighborhood.
Members looking for assist pay $199 per 12 months to entry the Umbrella market.
Umbrella’s founding workforce members each left Sidewalk Labs to launch their new startup. CEO Lindsay Ullman was beforehand a principal at Sidewalk Labs and a associate at Alphabet’s funding arm GV. Firm president Sam Gerstenzang was additionally a principal at Sidewalk Labs, although he additionally beforehand invested for esteemed VC agency Andreessen Horowitz and directed product at Imgur.
“Our Members use Umbrella to keep up their independence and keep related to their communities — whether or not which means some assist round the home or assembly others within the space,” mentioned Ullman. “We’re the simplest manner for older adults to proceed to dwell within the houses they love, fairly than the standard various of ‘senior dwelling.’”
The neighbor-focused app lets employees seek for open jobs, observe jobs they’ve accepted, and edit their profile, whereas a group “neighbor leaderboard” throws somewhat competitors into the combination.
Above: Umbrella: Neighbor app
The members’ app permits people to guide a brand new job and seek for neighbors and professionals by job kind.
Above: Umbrella: Member app
Umbrella interviews and vets the “neighbors,” together with checking their backgrounds and references. For extra advanced jobs, Umbrella offers entry to a pool of licensed professionals — from electricians to engineers — who cost what the corporate calls “a good worth.”
There are different platforms designed to assist individuals discover help or somebody to work odd jobs round the home. However Umbrella has been particularly set as much as promote and nurture a group spirit — having somebody who lives close by paint the fence or mow the garden has the potential to create social connections. In accordance with the corporate, greater than half of Umbrella’s neighbors are additionally latest retirees themselves.
Umbrella matches right into a micro pattern of corporations targeted on rising and harnessing “the group,” with the likes of Neighborhood social community Nextdoor not too long ago elevating $123 million at a $2.1 billion valuation and Amazon final 12 months launching its Neighbors app to assist communities report crimes.
Market match
Although seniors signify a doubtlessly big market, they’ve been largely ignored by tech traders — however that might be altering. Greater than 40% of seniors (65+) within the U.S. now personal a smartphone, in comparison with simply 13% in 2013. Furthermore, this demographic usually has important assets to spend on internet-based providers, which is what may make startups like Umbrella viable and — crucially — extra engaging to traders.
“Umbrella is constructing the main client model for older adults, an viewers that has the biggest spending energy within the nation and but paradoxically is usually ignored by corporations constructing new merchandise,” mentioned Thrive Capital normal associate Jared Weinstein.
It’s price noting that Thrive Capital has beforehand invested in one other elderly-focused startup, referred to as Honor, which offers on-demand care to the aged of their houses. Final 12 months, Honor raised one other $50 million, taking its whole funding to $115 million.
Though Google’s sister firm Sidewalk Labs has hogged headlines for its formidable plans to show Toronto’s waterfront right into a mini good metropolis, the Alphabet subsidiary has made various direct investments in startups over the previous couple of years. These embrace Sidewalk Labs graduate Cityblock Well being, which is getting down to assist low-income People — together with the aged — entry well being care.
“Umbrella represents the form of native inter-generational communities that we consider in at Sidewalk Labs,” Sidewalk CEO and chair Dan Doctoroff advised VentureBeat. “By creating a brand new form of group infrastructure that helps ageing in place, we will create a brand new normal for dwelling purposefully as you age. When Lindsay and Sam advised me they have been leaving Sidewalk to pursue Umbrella, it was apparent that we wished to be part of it.”
Umbrella presently serves New Jersey and Lengthy Island, although with its contemporary money injection it plans to increase the service nationwide this 12 months. And though there aren’t any imminent plans for worldwide markets, Umbrella mentioned it has garnered curiosity from Canada, Australia, and the U.Ok.

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