CEO of Helppy Richard Nordström


Helppy is a Finnish company redesigning elderly healthcare from a family-members perspective. In 2021 Helppy was one of the three finalists in the SLUSH 100 Pitching Competition, and since that, the company has been growing and expanding to new countries.

This year the CEO, Richard Nordström, had a fireside talk at WebSummit, the world's leading business conference in Lisbon.

Below are the excerpts from the interview.

HT: Last year in SLUSH, your company did well and made it to the top 3 of the pitching competition. How has the past year been for Helppy?

Richard Nordström: Helppy is almost a new company every 3-6 months. It has been an amazing journey.

First, we found product-market fit and knew how to make a better care concept. Then we raised pre-seed a bit more than a year ago. Based on that, we started developing technology, so everything in our platform is our code nowadays. Then eight months later, we raised seed-round, and with that, expanded to Germany and France.

It has been a fantastic journey. The team has been growing, we've helped over 1000 customers, and our technology has been much more built out. We have our operating system, a helper app for the field workers, a family app for the family members and a guidance portal where family members can organise everything from the paperwork to make the home safe to organising daily routines.

All of that has been happening in the past year-and-a-half or so. Now we're in this expansion mode in Europe, which is a very exciting time for us.

HT: It's clear you've had to pivot some and find new solutions. What has been the biggest change in the company?

Richard Nordström: We have a clear vision that we want to redesign home care from a family perspective.

It comes from my own story. As a son to my mother who needed help, we're redesigning as I wanted to have the care. We've taken that family-member lens to redefine it. It shapes everything from how we design the tech product to how we do the care work.

For us, it's now a lot about execution. We know what we want to do. The question is just how we execute our vision and our roadmap. As the team and countries grow, the complexity increases. So it's about ensuring we deliver the promise and the concept to more places.

HT: Finland has difficulties with sufficient elderly care. Now that you've been expanding, do you see the same need for Helppy in other countries?

Richard Nordström: In Europe, many countries are similar when it comes to regulation in terms of elderly care and the need for it. 

Most of the care providers in the market are small and outdated. They have a paper booklet, they take phone calls and an outdated website. It's not digitalised.

That's the same thing in Finland and Germany. So we faced a very similar market where the traditional players needed to offer better service. We are coming to those markets with a new, transparent, family-friendly concept, which has been well received in Germany. We expect it to be the same case in France as well.

The situation is very similar in Finland and many other European countries, so our concept fits well in those markets.

HT: In terms of how healthcare was forced to go digital during Covid-19. The world has been returning to normal, but do you see that the changes made during that time will prevail?

Richard Nordström: Covid helped change people's sentiment that it's also okay to do things online. Some people expect even more digital features now. 

Both of these things drive innovation and improvements in elderly care. We can train a lot of the carers online, family members expect a lot more transparency, and so they can follow visits online.

Many of the things that came from Covid will stay onwards. People now expect transparency. They are okay with online training and ordering without having someone visit first. So you can do online ordering and start to get the care running without a physical first visit.

HT: Moving on to the future. You had a talk here in WebSummit about telemedicine, which has been a big topic recently. How do you see the future of health care?

Richard Nordström: Elderly care will change a lot during the next 3-5 years. It's almost like the taxi, food delivery or accommodation market before recent startups.

Most of the physical visits will be transparently reported and tech-supported. Before visits, you will have many sensors to have peace of mind. Other sensors and wearables can also be implemented when nobody is there. Some visits can be done by video remotely because sometimes it can be more cost-efficient to do small checkup visits. All the paperwork will be semi-automated, so you don't have to fill out any paper or google forms.

There will be a big improvement in the user experience in elder care. When you get this great user experience in almost any consumer service nowadays, whether, in transportation, food delivery or accommodation, you expect the same for care as well. It's almost surprising that elderly care is still so outdated. It's nothing like what you expect from typical services, and I think that will change.

People will get a similar user experience with care 3-5 years from now that they would expect from food-delivery services, for example.

HT: Since elderly care is still so outdated. Do you see that there is a leap people have to make to trust these digital services?

Richard Nordström: I think different age groups are different adapters in terms of technology. Most of the 20-40-year-olds are very tech-savvy, so they expect a lot of digital features. Then you have these 40-60-year-olds starting to require and expect technology. Of course, the older generations are not expecting that much yet. 

It will trickle down so even the more late adopters will start to demand tech features and digital user experience, whereas that hasn't been the case yet. I think everyone will require a good digital experience in a few years.

HT: How about government regulations? Have they been supportive or restrictive?

Richard Nordström: The public reimbursement, how much municipalities, for instance, pay for the service, is typically lagging. It slows down innovation a bit in the sense that some of the tech features, like sensors at home, are not fully reimbursed as of today. 

They will become increasingly reimbursed by the public sector, but it takes time. They have strict rule books, and updating those takes a bit of time.


Tara Kouros - HT