An Ottawa software firm that helps families manage at-home care for loved ones suffering from conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s has landed millions of dollars in venture capital as demand for the platform has surged during the pandemic.
Trualta, an online education platform that provides health-care training tools for family members who are looking after patients in their own homes, announced last week it closed a multimillion-dollar funding round with Missouri-based BERKS Group. Details of the transaction were not released.
Founder Jonathan Davis, who was an associate with a private equity fund in New York City before starting his own venture, said he was inspired to launch Trualta after advising companies in his previous employer’s health-care training portfolio.
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While a multitude of firms offered educational platforms aimed at health-care professionals, Davis says, none was offering any training for family members who are often on the front lines caring for loved ones recovering from surgery at home or dealing with long-term conditions such as dementia.
Davis saw an opportunity, launching Trualta four years ago after he and his wife moved back to their hometown of Vancouver.
In 2018, the couple moved to Ottawa, where Davis’s wife, a physician, was posted on a five-year surgical residency. It didn’t take long for his venture to make its presence felt in its new home – that summer, Trualta earned one of 40 spots in Invest Ottawa’s inaugural accelerator class at Bayview Yards.
400% revenue growth
Today, the e-learning platform helps educate at-home caregivers via a range of formats, including videos and podcasts, on topics such as communicating with Alzheimer’s patients and safely transporting people who’ve just had surgery.
The subscription-based platform, which works with health-care providers to create its content, does 90 per cent of its business south of the border and now has customers in 25 states. Trualta sells mainly to state and local governments as well as health insurers and health-care providers, who then provide the portal to families of patients in their networks.
Davis says the company’s revenues have risen 400 per cent since the beginning of 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis pushed hospitals and long-term care facilities to their limits, shifting much of the burden of looking after patients to families.
“The pandemic proved that the 65-plus population was very much able to use these online tools.”
In addition, he says the pandemic brought the concept of remote medicine into the mainstream as people were suddenly forced to see doctors on Zoom or check in with health-care providers via apps.
“Folks weren’t always sure whether they would use a web-based tool,” says Davis, noting about 50 per cent of Trualta’s users are aged 65 and over.
“I think the pandemic proved if you wanted to attend your telehealth appointment, you had to get online. The pandemic proved that the 65-plus population was very much able to use these online tools.”
Now at 21 employees, about half of whom are based in Ottawa, Trualta has been mostly self-funded.
The company did get some help, receiving grants from the federal government’s Industrial Research Assistance Program as well as debt financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada and financial backing from the Toronto-based Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation. But Davis says Trualta is now poised to take a giant leap forward thanks to the investment from BERKS.
“I think we have a partner here that really wants to grow with us,” he says.
Davis says he plans to use some of the fresh funding to beef up Trualta’s sales and marketing staff and bring on new software developers. He expects the firm’s headcount to approach 50 by the end of 2022 as it rolls out its platform in more U.S. states and adds new content focused on other health conditions.
“There’s obviously a ton of other care situations that we’d like to help families with,” Davis says.
Trualta’s founder says he’s not worried about filling those positions in an ultra-competitive hiring landscape, noting his firm offers employees the chance to make a tangible difference in people’s lives.
“When they’re working on building our product, they’re helping real families in very challenging care situations,” he says. “Our team is pretty obsessed with the mission.”