I spent some time talking to Jonathan and Isabelle about their new venture, LivingPaths.
By Steve Moran
LivingPaths is the newest entry into the “we have to do something about those ‘pay-to-play’ senior living websites.” This lead generation site is being launched by CEO & Founder Jonathan Woodrow and Isabelle Woodrow, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) & Founder, and Jonathan’s sister.
Though young (Is that an ageist statement?), they come to this venture with strong pedigrees. Jonathan was a member of the Welltower investment team and a graduate from Amherst College. Isabelle is a recent graduate from the Stanford University with a degree in computer science and has summer intern work at Snapchat and Salesforce under her belt.
The Big Idea
I spent some time talking to Jonathan and Isabelle about their new venture and here is the big idea. Most or at least many senior living providers complain about what are often described as excessive fees paid to Caring.com, a Senior Housing Forum partner, and A Place for Mom. In addition to being unhappy about the fees, there is also this idea that the current lead generation platforms are far from transparent with respect to pricing and how they make their money.
Their goal is to be the trusted digital resource for individuals seeking a comprehensive and confidential tool to research their senior living options. They are currently operational only in the greater Chicago area where they believe they have included every single senior living community.
What is particularly unique about what they are offering is that they have called every single community and gotten prices which are listed on their website.
They expect to be in 10 markets by the end of 2016 and cover the entire market by the end of 2017.
As a fresh start-up, the details of the business model are still being flushed out. What they are thinking though is that they will have basic information, including pricing, for every single community. Beyond that, they will make available enhanced listings that providers will be required to pay for.
They have no plans to charge consumers.
What is Unclear
As everyone in the industry knows, this model has been tried over and over again with pretty limited success. While senior living communities hate paying the “big fees” to the “pay for performance” referral organizations, they seem even less inclined to pay for directory service listings, which have no guarantee of providing quality leads.
Yet, as rents go up frustration builds over the fees being paid. It is why entrepreneurs like LivingPaths and SoftVu/SeniorVu tackle the marketplace.
It would appear that LivingPaths has a very unique advantage given Jonathan’s relationship with WellTower in that WellTower would likely be very interested in seeing their operators reduce sales and marketing costs.
All that being said, I would not expect to see Caring.com or APFM folding their tents anytime soon.