I co-founded The CareSide in 2017. We provide home care and home nursing services for seniors in Perth and other parts of Western Australia. Even though that was only 3 years ago, the company has been growing quickly and profitable. Last year, we did over $3.5 million USD in revenue.
We only offer services to the state of Western Australia currently, but we do have plans to expand to other states. I chose home care services as an industry to enter because the sector was going through some major regulatory changes at the time and I saw an opportunity to offer a better and less expensive service than was available by incumbents. We have developed proprietary technology systems that automate all administrative functions and remove the need for large teams of back office staff. This all means that we have much lower operating costs than other providers.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual moment to start The CareSide?
After reading the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss, I was inspired to create a business that could be run from anywhere in the world and utilize the best of international resources, all through the magic of the cloud.
How did you get your first three customers?
We tried advertising in the local paper and had absolutely no success. Not even one person called us after spending $5,000 on advertisements.
Once we began to advertise online with Google PPC, we quickly gained traction as we are the kind of business that people google to search for a solution to the challenge of caring for their parents.
How did you validate the idea?
We used a variation of an agile approach. We would try an idea, see if it worked, and if it did not within a couple of weeks, we would try something new. Being agile
and using sprints and weekly review allowed us to find market niches by letting the market push us to where it wanted us, rather than us trying to supply a service that was already in over supply.
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
Yes, my business partner is a registered nurse and her family are all medical specialists, so we had an advantage in that we knew how to care for people.
However, like any business, a lot of the work required goes on behind the scenes in terms of developing processes, policies, marketing strategies, distribution strategies, supply and logistics management etc. Also we have very strict health audit requirements, so we had to spend the first 6 months building out the business infrastructure just to be able to deliver client services.
Have you raised any money? How much?
We decided to totally self fund. Due to financial constraints this meant that we had to use virtual office space rather than have a physical office location, build our own software, use our own cars, use our own computers and phones and employ people incrementally. The price of self funding is slow growth, but you do learn to make every dollar stretch and become more scrappy and innovative.
What regulatory approvals did you have to go through?
We employed a consultant to help us to apply for our government license to deliver home care. In the first year we were audited 7 times by different government agencies. We are now very good at dealing with audits! Whilst they are always stressful, you can use them as learning opportunities and to find out what your top competitors are doing and use the audit team to find out how you can implement best practice. Often they will tell you how you can improve to serve other customer segments and how you can beat your competitors.
Who is your target demographic?
People over the age of 65 who need care to stay in their own home.
What is the funniest/most strange customer request you’ve had?
We once had a client who wanted to lose weight so they had one of our carers stay with them 24 hours a day for 3 months to monitor their diet.
How did you fund the idea initially?
My spouse and I built the business together. Spending more time together has only made us stronger as a couple and we thoroughly enjoy working together. We are very complementary in our strengths and weaknesses.
Any tips for finding first employees?
I think that the best employees are the most enthusiastic and have an attitude of continuous improvement. We work with local training agencies and they let us know which of their students are standouts in terms of aptitude and attitude and we approach them as they qualify to see if they are a good fit. We value attitude over experience.
Did you run any companies prior?
I have had senior management roles in several companies, but was never responsible for an entire company. It is very different to be broad rather than deep in a functional area. Delegation and sanity checking are key.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
People thought we were crazy to give up such comfortable permanent roles. The risk of starting a company is very scary. We looked into the franchise model first as a way of mitigating risks, but found it too restrictive.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
We are caring for people's health and safety, so we are always highly motivated to make sure things go smoothly. Our goal is to be the largest private company in Australia delivering home care services. We will give the most number of people the maximum possible amount of care that is possible to deliver.
What has driven the most sales?
Google Adwords has been our most successful advertising channel, although we hope that our SEO efforts will be even more successful.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
We need to expand into different states. Currently, we are only present in Perth and other parts of Western Australia. Setting up regional offices will be a new challenge for us.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
We aim to be the highest value provider in the market. We do this by having the most efficient and effective back office management through proprietary technology and offshoring.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
Xero, G Suite, Mobile banking platforms. Everything else is custom.
Why are they essential?
We have an end to end CRM/ERP that manages the entire business from prospects to weekly pay runs. Our technology runs the entire business, is in the cloud and connects people on 3 continents to deliver care in Australia.
What are your favourite books?
- The Four Hour Work Week
- E-Myth Mastery: The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a World-Class Company
- The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime!
What are your favourite podcasts?
- The Y combinator lecture series and Revisionist History
What are the next products you’re working on?
We have just become approved to deliver disability care. This is similar but also different from Aged Care
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
We hope to start expanding all around Australia and possibly into Asia
What is current revenue? If you don’t mind sharing..
Over $5M in annual revenue in less than 3 years.
Would you ever sell?
No, but we are interested in buying other businesses!