Techopia Live: Pandemic sees Ottawa's Welbi adapt retirement home platform

Instead of letting an unprecedented global pandemic halt its momentum from a recent Silicon Valley pitchfest victory, Ottawa-based Welbi is adapting its platform to better serve care providers in retirement communities amid increasingly overwhelming circumstances.

Chief executive Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau joined Techopia Live – remotely – this week to discuss the challenges facing retirement homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, which puts elderly residents at higher risk.

The company’s platform is already equipped to help fend off a now-common phenomenon in the COVID-19 era: social isolation. Welbi’s software helps recreation managers at retirement homes to monitor residents’ activity levels and better engage them on a daily basis; the company’s mission is only more relevant amid the growing pandemic.

“For us, at Welbi, it’s about how do we support the teams within the retirement home – especially right now with this big crisis,” Audette-Bourdeau said.

Tracking an array of residents’ activity levels was already overwhelming for most of Welbi’s customers, but Audette-Bourdeau said the fresh concerns from family members in a time when many long-term care facilities are limiting outside access is putting newfound pressure on the platform. As such, the company is looking at optimizing the software for one-on-one activities and other programming better suited for social distancing.

It’s been a whirlwind month for Welbi, which started March with a victory at the SoGal Ventures pitch competition in Silicon Valley. Audette-Bourdeau’s successful pitch earned Welbi US$25,000 in funding and marks the first time a Canadian company has won at the SoGal competition, which focuses on supporting women-led startups.

Though Welbi has been forced to go fully remote since pretty much the moment Audette-Bourdeau returned to Ottawa, she said the startup is not feeling discouraged by the recent inconveniences. 

As demand rises for a platform to connect residents, family members and caretakers at retirement residences, Welbi is keen to tackle whatever challenges COVID-19 presents in the weeks ahead.

“We have the potential, we have the team to go in and support these retirement homes in the middle of a crisis,” she said. “It’s definitely motivating for everyone.”

To hear Audette-Bourdeau’s impressions of Silicon Valley and how the company is adapting its platform, watch the video above.