When senior housing becomes a need, many families face the industry’s issues. Bennet Kim and the ZNest team are working to lower referral fees and solve the industry’s labor shortage. We asked ZNest’s founder and CEO about his solution to improving the industry.

Funding Round Details

ZNest logo
Company: ZNest
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $12,000,000
Min Investment: $100
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Sep 12, 2024
$2,000,000
View Deal

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

It’s like Zillow for senior housing.  Right now, it’s challenging to find senior housing like independent living, assisted living, and memory care.  The dominant players are referral companies that curate search results based on their corporate sponsors.  Senior housing operators have been frustrated by the high referral fees, which you would never see in most other real estate asset classes.

What did you learn from your initial customer research about the problems of the industry? How is your company addressing some of these issues?

Even though I’ve been in senior housing for over 20 years, we learned a lot through the customer discovery process.  Many operators view lead generation as a massive problem within the industry, but the sales and marketing departments are spread so thin that they don’t have much time to be populating data onto new platforms.  We had to come up with a clever go-to-market strategy.

How did you associate with Lamar Odom?

I saw an article about how Lamar Odom started a local referral network for senior housing in Los Angeles because of his 96-year-old grandmother.  He realized how tough it was to find more information.  I contacted his management team and first did a Zoom to see if our visions were aligned.  We then ended up having dinner, and we both knew that we could create something much bigger if we worked together.

 

Lamar Odom and I both knew that we could create something much bigger if we worked together

What is your go-to-market strategy?

Because we realized how swamped the sales & marketing teams were in senior housing companies, we thought about other major issues that were top of mind for the professionals in the industry.  The labor shortage in senior housing has been in the headlines for years, so we decided to focus in this area to see if there were problems we could address using the same platform.  We did another dozen more formal discovery interviews with the HR departments of senior housing operators and concluded that the labor issues were not a top-of-the-funnel problem.  It’s not that people weren’t applying for positions.  The bigger problem seemed to be the attrition rate during the hiring process.  The pre-boarding process could take up to a month, and operators were competing with fast food venues and Uber.  Most of the companies relied on email to engage job seekers, but job seekers now prefer to communicate via texting.  We have created an SMS-based applicant engagement system that integrates with HR software.  In order to keep the job seekers engaged, operators create profiles of the facilities and the current staff.  Those profiles serve two purposes.  First they engage the job seekers, so they know where they will be working.  And second, we are using those same profiles for families to search for senior housing options.

How is your advisory board helping your company?

We now have 12 of the largest and most influential institutional owners of senior housing represented on our advisory board.  They have been fantastic at making introductions directly to the CEOs of the largest senior housing operators.

 

If we speak again in 12 months, which milestones will you have achieved?

At that point, we will not only have launched ZNest but also plan to add two to three additional features to our product roadmap. After closing the Wefunder round, we plan to raise an institutional VC round. Stay tuned!