Local startup Feather reaches funding milestone

Feather, a mobile marketplace that helps families find, hire and coordinate in-home senior care, has reached a major funding milestone. The startup raised $250,000 in cash and services from Hayseed Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Fayetteville, Ark.

Hayseed is led by Dr. John James, who founded the successful startup Acumen Brands, which focuses on the online retail business-to-consumer market.

Families can use Feather to connect with qualified and compatible caregivers. They also can use Feather’s web and mobile app to schedule appointments, check in on their loved one, and even chat with their caregiver.

The partnership with hayseed will help Feather address its largest obstacle — finding the right customers. "We've met a lot of folks who love our idea, but it's been challenging to find people who need our service now and want to sign up today. That's why this partnership with Hayseed Ventures is so huge for us. Their expertise in customer acquisition will help families and seniors who need a caregiver find Feather online," said Rachel Fuller, CFO of Feather.

The company was founded by University of Memphis alumni Rachel Fuller and Nick Fuller, current UofM computer science student Evan Black, and Christopher Williams. The team has since expanded to include UofM alumna Shannon Kelly and current UofM student Kieran Blazier.

The senior care market may seem like an odd place for collegians to launch a startup, but Rachel says it was a space that needed the infusion of technology to solve problems. "It is a little unusual to have a group of young people working on a startup for elder care, but we think our youth and enthusiasm for using technology to solve real problems for families and seniors is what makes us unique."

The idea for Feather was born from an earlier experience in the senior care field for both Rachel and Nick. "We both had experience working at a firm that specialized in medical malpractice in nursing homes, so we had both seen the devastating effects of senior care going wrong," Rachel explained. "I applied that experience in my law school career, where I studied and did all of my pro bono work in elder law. Though the bar wasn't for me, I took what I learned in law school and applied to this venture, Feather."

Feather has been working out of the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Memphis since September of last year, and Rachel says they will continue to have a footprint there. As part of its partnership with Hayseed Ventures, Rachel and Nick Fuller and Williams have moved operations to Fayetteville to leverage their strategic investment and to scale their operation and optimize service delivery to seniors and families. "The Crews Center was tremendously helpful. Though my co-founders and I have relocated to Fayetteville for our partnership with Hayseed Ventures, our tech team, comprised of Evan Black, Kieran Blazier, and Shannon Kelly, is still working there."

The mentorship available at the Center was an invaluable asset as they navigated the startup process. "The Crews Center Director, Mike Hoffmeyer, has been a great advisor for our team. He helped us hone our idea and pitch so that we could go out and start fundraising," Rachel said.

Feather currently offers services in Memphis and Nashville, and will be expanding to Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas this month. Their growth goals, though, are national. "With Hayseed's help, we plan to start offering service nationwide soon.  Part of our expansion in service will certainly include adding staff. We're a team of six now, but by this summer we'll be looking to for new team members to help with our customer service, marketing, and development."

Read more articles by Anna Mullins.

Anna is a local writer, editor and non-profit administrator. She serves as Managing Editor for High Ground and as the Director of Communications and Marketing for the New Memphis Institute. Share feedback and story ideas with her here.
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