Startup success story:
Gubbe, enabling an active and happy life for all elderly.
There are nearly 1.3 million over 65 years people in Finland – need for help and loneliness among elderly people is increasing in the future. A Grid-based Gubbe is an elderly care service that helps to keep the elderly active and brings security to the entire family circle. Gubbe has been chosen in the Kiuas accelerator programs in 2019 and 2022.
The startup company Gubbe was born when its founder Sandra Lounamaa recognized the need of elderly people’s help after her grandfather had passed away. Lounamaa’s family started to seek help for the grandmother in everyday life, and they mapped out a lot of different municipal and private home care and friend services. Everyone seemed to have the same problem – no one offered clear reporting on who visits the elderly person and what is done or has been done during the visit.
“I conceptualized the idea and noticed that there was a need for this kind of service,” says Lounamaa and continues: “Loneliness among the elderly is a huge problem, in our eyes as big a challenge as the climate change. There are about 400 000 lonely elderly people in Finland who no one even takes out for a walk. The fear of going out only increases in them. But when you get someone you know to encourage you to go out and help with daily activities, you revolutionize the life of an elderly person.”
The idea of a new kind of service for the elderly remained in Lounamaa’s thoughts for some time, until she met Meri-Tuuli Laaksonen on her maternity leave. Laaksonen has a long experience in elderly care, and as a health care professional she saw an opportunity in the idea. After the end of maternity leave in the fall of 2018, these women took a leap into the unknown and become to startup entrepreneurs.
Meaningful work attracts young people
At the heart of Gubbe are young adults who regularly visit an elderly person and help them with various everyday activities. “We want to make elderly care trendy. We are reforming the care industry and striving for every student to want to work as a Gubbe,” says Lounamaa.
Gubbe interests today’s young people who want to do meaningful work in line with their values, and a flexible work while studying suits many. Gubbe’s most important recruitment criterias are cheerfulness and a desire to help older people. All other service activities are taught and trained to Gubbe Helpers. Aalto students and students from other educational institutions in the surrounding area of Otaniemi have found work in Gubbe. The location of Gubbe’s head office on the Aalto University campus has brought lightness to work according to Lounamaa: “It’s wonderful to see a lot of students around here. After all, this is a unique place!”.
Helping the elderly is a responsibility act
Today Gubbe has about a thousand active customers and the service can be easily ordered anywhere in Finland. Municipalities and cities work also closely with Gubbe by purchasing services to ease their challenges of elderly care.
Companies can play an important role in helping lonely elderly people. Gubbe’s sponsorship program enables companies to help the most vulnerable and lonely elderly. Already 200 companies have chosen Gubbe as part of their sustainability measures. Companies can also offer Gubbe’s service to their employees as a personnel benefit. “Many 40+ employees may already have elderly parents who need more help in everyday life than they have time for. And when you know Gubbe Helper is with your parent, there is one thing less to worry,” says Lounamaa.
This autumn Gubbe has expanded to the UK, where a team of four people has started operations. “It has gone well and there are also minor challenges, but that’s normal in this stage,” says Lounamaa and is excited of Gubbe’s expansion to beyond Finland’s borders.