“It was the two-year anniversary of my dad’s death. And this might sound strange, but for the very first time, I thought about everything that happened leading up to his death — anytime before that, I’d only been able to think about how he was gone. And when I started to think about everything that led up to his death, I started to realize, wow, there was a lot that could have been a lot better.”
Those were the words spoken by Jessica McGlory in a recent interview. She serves as the CEO of Guaranteed, a provider of hybrid in-home hospice care services.
On Thursday, Guaranteed closed a $6.5 million seed round led by BrandProject, with participation from Precursor Ventures, Springbank Ventures, Lakehouse Ventures and Cake Ventures. The round brings the startup’s total funding to date to $9.25 million.
A year ago, McGlory founded the startup so that patients and their families can have more dignified and holistic end-of-life care experiences than what she and her father went through.
Two weeks into McGlory’s father’s hospital stay after he suffered a double heart attack, doctors told them that his heart capacity was rapidly declining and that he needed hospice.
“The only issue for me was that I’d never heard of hospice — not a day in my life,” McGlory said.
While McGlory searched the internet for a definition of hospice, hospital staff handed her six sheets of paper of individual names of hospices and their phone numbers. They told her she better get started on calling those numbers to see who had a spot open.
It wasn’t easy to find a hospice provider that was able to deliver in-home care for McGlory’s father, and there were different periods of time in which he was in great pain and McGlory didn’t know what she could do.
“I didn’t know at the time that it wasn’t supposed to be that way,” McGlory said. “So with Guaranteed, I started researching and learning a lot more about hospice care so that I wouldn’t only have the perspective of a family member of a patient. I started to learn about all of the beautiful things that hospice is meant to do, and then I realized I wanted to do something about it. I ended up quitting my job and deciding to full-time focus on building a better, more holistic and tech-enabled hospice experience.”
Guaranteed provides direct patient care in the home, employing teams made up of nurses, home hospice aides, chaplains, social workers and dieticians. The startup provides 24/7 access to palliative care nurses via on-demand virtual visits as well. Patients can also schedule unlimited video visits with chaplains, social workers and dieticians, according to McGlory.
The company has its headquarters in New York City, but it is currently only serving patients in Los Angeles. she said her team is working to expand its reach to new regions.
All of the patients that Guaranteed serves are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. They are charged the same per diem per patient model that exists for most hospice providers, McGlory explained.
“The difference is that we don’t charge anything additional for the platform capabilities,” she said. “Because we believe that in the long run, the tech-enabled platform will actually allow us to be able to serve more patients, have more staff, and be able to be more effective with their time so they can focus on the patient, as opposed to some of the other things that cause more administrative costs.”
That’s how Guaranteed differentiates itself from other hospice providers, such as
Kindred and Enhabit, according to McGovern. She said the startup is focused on “using that same amount of money that the other hospices have, but a lot more effectively by utilizing tech.”
With its influx of new funds, Guaranteed will scale its platform, with a focus on adding new features to improve the patient experience. The startup will also ramp up hiring to expand beyond its five-person corporate team. It will bring on new engineering and marketing professionals, as well as more hospice and clinical care workers.
The company’s seed funding stands out, as woman-founded startups and Black-founded startups often don’t garner as much capital. Last year, women-founded companies received just 2.4% of all capital invested in venture-backed startups in the U.S, and Black founders raised only 1.4% of all 2021 funding.
Guaranteed flipped the script — half of the capital raised in the startup’s most recent financing round came from a woman- and/or person of color-led general partner investment firm or angel investor. And 27% of the funds raised during the round were Black investment dollars.
“It can be incredibly difficult being a woman of color and raising in this environment, but I really focused on not spending too much time on those who had already proven that this is not something that they were going to truly invest in — and I don’t mean just capital. I mean truly investing their time, expertise and belief in the vision. Instead, I focused on those who had demonstrated that’s what they were going to be committed to,” McGlory said.
Photos: diego_cervo via Getty Images and Business Wire