As featured in Business Insider

Birdie CEO Max Parmentier 

COVID-19 has highlighted the underlying fractures in the UK's care sector. The government's efforts to free up hospital beds precipitated a crisis in care homes and, with a second wave looming, it has launched a program to accelerate patient discharge back into their homes.

One startup that hopes to be part of these efforts is age tech platform Birdie. 

The UK startup was founded in 2017 with the goal of partnering with care agencies to revolutionize the underfunded and inefficient care sector. By digitizing largely paper-based systems and collecting patient data, it says it provides more personalized and effective at-home care so that care providers can pick up on early signs of illness and reduce hospital admissions.

As well as making these agencies more efficient, CEO Max Parmentier says that he believes this will help to improve margins and make the industry more sustainable. 

"One out of four care providers in the UK, talking about home care, is at the risk of bankruptcy," he says. "Why? Because the funding is so low that these guys really struggle with the margins."

At the moment, there is not enough money, adds Parmentier: "In the UK, the social care crisis is a big ongoing topic. There's a £2.5. billion funding gap ... There's 1.5 million older adults who just don't have the basic support to perform vital tasks such as bathing or dressing."

The pandemic has only accelerated the need for Birdie's services. Over the past 10 months, the startup says that it's grown 15% month on month to "seven-figure revenue", serving 15,000 elderly people and around 150 home care agencies across the UK.

This is part of wider market growth, as the spread of the infection in care homes has underlined the need to deliver better care at home, says Parmentier.

"Before COVID, home care was a growing market," he says. "Now there's a shift in thinking and more policymakers ... acknowledge that home is actually the right place where care should happen."

In June, Birdie was one of 20 startups that won a government grant to help it harness its technology for the care of elderly and vulnerable people during COVID. It is supporting NHS services by building a heat map of infection among patients using data it collects in conjunction with care providers.

Birdie plans to raise a Series B round with AXA in early 2021

Birdie raised €7 million ($8.3 million) in Series A funding from French insurance provider AXA in 2019, having previously netted a €2.5 million ($3 million) seed round from AXA's startup studio Kamet Ventures.

By the first quarter of 2021, it wants to raise again to fund international expansion and accelerate commercial traction. AXA is already on board, but Parmentier says that Birdie wants to diversify its investors by having someone else co-lead the round.

"I don't know how much we're going to be raising," he adds. "To be honest, it depends a bit on COVID and ... growth expectations, but with the metrics we have got right now and the depth of the market, we are going to be quite ambitious."

Moving forward, Birdie wants to bring other care providers, such as GPs and local authorities, onto the platform and to start using internet of things (IoT) devices to improve at-home care.

While other tech startups focus on the business-to-consumer market, Birdie operates a business-to-business model. This allows it to combine medical records and data collected from patient's homes to see the big picture, helping Birdie to improve care to a much greater extent, says Parmentier. 

"With all that data, you can actually track behavior over time and identify patterns and if you correlate that data with the data from the care providers and care workers, we're getting a very high-resolution picture of the health and well-being of these old adults at home," he says.

"One GP told me [that] if we were collecting better information about these visits, we could lower hospital admission by 30 to 40% on average," he adds. "Lowering hospital admissions by a significant amount means really keeping them in a healthier condition and so that's really the holy grail for us."

We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck that it used to win funding: