In this episode, Carl Jacobs, CEO of Apicbase is seating down with a special guest, Geert Houben, the CEO of Cubigo, a technology provider for the senior living industry.
One of the key topics discussed is how senior living is increasingly leaning towards the hospitality industry.
Geert: So we saw a big need in the aging population. So Cubigo is a technology company. As you mentioned in the intro, we are a software platform and we integrate all what we call non-clinical services in one single solution to give very easy access to residents like older adults, but also family members, team members, professional caregivers to make their work more efficient, but also to increase the engagement and the satisfaction of the older adult in themselves.Carl: And you say you founded the company in 2011. It’s I think 12 years that you’re working on it. You started in Europe, you say, but I believe you’re mainly focusing on the United States at the moment? Geert: Well, we still have business in Europe, too, so we kind of focus on both continents. But the majority of our business comes from North America. The reason is that when we initially started, it was more with the home care proposition. So how can we keep older adults in their homes as long as possible, keep them independent, keep them autonomous? But when we started in the US in 20 1617, we saw the concept of community living, which is like a group of older adults, typically between 100 and 300 that live together in a on a campus or in a building. And that’s what we what we call senior living. And it’s not comparable at all with what we know in Europe, which is way more focused on the care homes with very specific care needs In the US, Canada, we talk here about retirement living. So it’s a younger demographic, younger target group and people move in in these communities when they are like 65, 70, 75 years old instead of the 80 to 85 we see here in Europe.Carl: So it’s not anymore the last resort. It is really like living the life to the max in such a in such a place.Geert: Absolutely. So these people I mean, look at our own parents. When you look at like the 70 year old person today, it’s not the 70 year old year old person that it was like 20 years ago. People live longer, They’re more healthy. They save some money. So they want to live in their best years of their life when they are retired. And basically that is a completely different thing than a last resort. People see it as an upgrade of their life. Yes. While in Europe, if you go to like a like a senior living community or care home, it feels indeed like this is a downgrade. And probably the last move that I do in my life.Carl: I should mention to our listeners that, you already mentioned you are a software platform. Normally we have thought leaders from food businesses, etcetera. But I think from a personal perspective, I’m extremely interested in your journey as a startup, scale up now. So one more question I have about that is one moment in time you decide to go into that United States market. Can you tell us a little bit about how you approached that? That move into a totally unknown territory, and was this really pioneering in the sense that did software like this already exist in the United States? Or were you like one of the first to really come with that kind of solution?Geert: Great question. So what we did actually is when we saw that we were growing in Europe, but also saw the challenges with growing in Europe, with different countries, cultures, languages, we decided to at least have a look in the US in specific Silicon Valley because that is the heart of the IT in the world. So you want to know what is going on in that area to set a kind of a benchmark for your industry. So we went there in 2014, more on like a discovery trip for two weeks. And I remember very clearly when we went to like a trade show for technology in for aging population like called the tech vertical, We saw software that we already had like 3 or 4 years before. And so that was like an eye opening experience. Like, hey, we have more than they have here, so why shouldn’t we be here? Right? So we opened up an office. And then the second thing we did was to really understand the market. And it’s very hard as a European to understand the market in the US if you’re not there, if you don’t feel it. What we did is we sent one of our colleagues, he was 28 years old. We sent him for one year into a retirement living community to live among the older adults and really feel what what is happening, what are the challenges, what are the needs, what are the pain points? And so when he came out, he was 82.That’s a joke. But it was such a tremendous experience not only for him, but also for the company to get real insights in what we and what we have to offer as a solution that it completely changed our product, but also our our success at that moment.
Geert: So senior living is of course, a broad term. You can even say that people living in their own homes is is senior living because it’s a senior and older adult that is living in their home and that is also making the bridge to what is the future. That is the future. It doesn’t matter where people will live. They want to live their best life. When we refer to senior living, we typically mean that people move into more congregate community style living. And then you have basically two big segments. One is the retirement living, also called independent living assisted living. And then you have the the skilled nursing, which is typically the care home, like we know it in Europe. The difference between both continents is that in typically Western Europe, people tend to stay at home as long as possible. We have the infrastructure for that. The countries are smaller. We have a government that is supporting that, and when they cannot live anymore at home, they move into a care home for the last like one and a half, two years of their life. In the US you have home care obviously, but then because of the distances are large, it’s all a private industry. People see that retirement living as a as an as a next step in their life before they even have to think about a care home or dementia care and so forth. And so that industry in the US retirement living is pretty big. So you have a couple of ten thousands of communities, which is which is huge from a from a market size perspective, of course.
Geert: So to understand that, we first have to say that people move into these communities to have a better life, so they want to have a lot of services around them that make their life more easy. And that is not only like transportation or maintenance housekeeping, but also activities for social contact with other people, which is a very important reason that people move into such a community is the isolation, but also the food side. And actually when they do these research on what people really like find as important, food is always number one. And and that is actually a very like normal human behavior. Look at ourselves. And food is such an important thing, not just to feed our body and to keep alive, but also to enjoy, like the taste and and all the flavors you can you can have. Right? And so for them as well, actually, that target group or parents, that is the group that invented like the fine dining experience. Right. I mean, or grandparents, they came out of the World War. There was a lot of there was a different context. Absolutely. But then during the 60s, 70s and 80s, the whole concept of like, like, like fine dining was was invented. So this target group is specifically very focused on that. And so food experience is so, so such a crucial component in a community.Carl: Can you maybe describe like a, a typical senior living community, like how, you know, how many people live there on average? What are the amenities facilities that are being provided. So especially our European listeners can can feel a little bit, you know, the difference between home care here or senior living in Europe and senior living in the United States.
It’s free. If you can’t be there, please register anyway. We’ll send you the recording afterwards.
Apicbase NV- 2023. All Rights reserved
Apicbase is the most complete F&B management platform for multi-unit restaurants, hotels, ghost kitchens.
Terms & Conditions