HIGH POINT, N.C., April 23, 2014 – As millions of baby boomers reach the age of retirement, High Point University sophomore Emily De Lena, from Pottstown, Pa., is offering seniors an opportunity right for the times. A finalist in the 2014 Business Plan Competition at HPU, De Lena developed a plan for OwlAid, a business that provides services for the elderly so they can remain living independently in their own homes.
OwlAid’s business model is comprised of three main components: Student Assistance, Service Connections and Events. Through the Student Assistance program, elderly clients hire students to perform tasks that become cumbersome over time, such as yard work, grocery shopping and pet care. Clients also have the option to be part of the selection and hiring process to ensure compatible matches.
The second Service Connections element “can be compared to an Angie’s List for the elderly,” De Lena says. It serves as a clearing house between clients and services provided by other businesses. OwlAid screens the business connections to ensure clients receive fair prices, quality services and full satisfaction with their connection before any payment is made. Some examples of potential Service Connection partners include doctors, nutritionists, plumbers and accounting services.
Finally, OwlAid plans to host various events for seniors to build a sense of community. De Lena says that while nursing homes and assisted living facilities frequently host events for their residents, seniors still living at home may not necessarily have that option. Examples of events include a casino night and a golf outing.
The idea for OwlAid didn’t come overnight, De Lena says. “My parents have been a lot of help through all of this.” While De Lena’s grandmother remains actively living on her own, she realized that many seniors didn’t share that same luxury, and consequently were repeatedly taken advantage of and exploited out of their money.
De Lena will compete for start-up funds in the Business Plan Competition to begin her business in Blue Bell, P.A. and will begin seeking investors her senior year. She plans to expand to four locations before franchising.
De Lena is grateful for the confidence and opportunities the competition at HPU presents. “Many kids never wind up being the entrepreneurs they always wanted to be,” she says. “Being a finalist in this competition makes me realize that my ideas are valuable, and it makes me feel like I could really do this after I graduate.”
All three finalists will present their business plans to a panel of judges consisting of local business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors on April 24 at 9:30 a.m. in Norton Hall room 101. Business plans will be evaluated on multiple criteria, including financial feasibility, uniqueness of the product or service, and clarity of the business model. The winner will be awarded up to a $15,000 cash prize.
The competition is sponsored by HPU’s Phillips School of Business, the Center for Entrepreneurship and BB&T.