Spotlight on Thriving.ai

By Catherine Hackney posted 01-07-2022 01:55 PM

  
Shain Khoja

Thriving.ai brings stakeholders in care & data together for a holistic experience for Seniors & their caregivers. It uses ML/AI to provide data for decision-making.


Founder: Shain Khoja (CEO) Thriving.ai

 

“Problem” your company solves

Thriving.ai helps those involved in caregiving by providing integrated monitoring, coordination, and communication for a seamless and inclusive care experience that is efficient, saves time and reduces stress.

 

Talk a bit about your path to entrepreneurship. Were you hustling lemonade in the neighborhood in elementary school or did your passion follow an intellectual interest?

As a child at the age of 5, I came to the UK as a refugee. My father had lost everything due to the expropriation in Tanzania. He was an entrepreneur and a magnificent one as I have come to learn through life! He and my mum started by buying a small grocery store with a three-bedroomed apartment above it. He was the eldest son, married with two children, had two younger brothers, both married with two children each and my grandfather who lived with us. Very much the Indian family tale. Each family had one bedroom and my grandfather had the living room.

My after-school extracurricular activities included labelling tins with price tags, stocking shelves, managing the cashier, packing bags for customers, and helping with deliveries and newspaper rounds. It was an early induction to entrepreneurship. Much of my relationship skills and putting myself in the customer's shoes came from this time. Within 6 months we expanded and bought another shop and then a house.

Sadly, within a few years, my middle uncle contracted cancer and died within months of diagnosis. This triggered my father to reach higher and so he started looking at guesthouses, from one and two this business flourished to 20 hotels across the UK with 5 in Central London. The grocery stores became a thing of the past. I kept learning both at school and so much from my extracurricular work. When doing my O and A levels I sold pharmaceuticals after school for a small company out of Andover bringing in over £6000 a month in sales. At Physiotherapy School I sold sweaters, stethoscopes and secondhand books to help uplift life.

The entrepreneur in me was really born in 1985 when after graduating at the age of 20 I started my own clinics, first as a partner in Canada and then as an independent sole trader across four continents. In the UK I won 12 NHS GP Fundholding contracts. All these clinics were started greenfield, built, and sold. I have then gone on to own and operate hotels, pharmaceutical wholesale import, export companies and now a software business.

 

If your company had a “Why we exist” statement what would it be?

We exist to make it possible through every phase of life, that those you love and those that love you thrive to their fullest. We exist to build connection, engagement, and support that ensures that everyone can contribute and share the caregiving load through fun times, hard times and painful times.

 

Was Thrive Community a result of a key insight from you or a cofounder or did it come from a lot of trial and error?

Through the years working as a PT (Physical Therapy), I was acutely aware of the growing caregiving burden however having left to go and work in Afghanistan in 2003, this pain point had been buried at the back of my head. When my in-laws and parents started aging it required greater care from a distance. This is when the issue resurrected itself in my life. We struggled through until my mother was the last remaining parent. A fall and ensuing medical event led to her losing her independence and having to be cared for fulltime, inhouse with me. As I managed her care, I did not realize how much time, effort and knowledge was needed. The pressure it put on you as a primary caregiver and how much you had to advocate. As people in the same situation saw me navigate the landscape they reached out for help. I started doing focus groups and interviews and realized that this was a huge problem but also a tough sector to succeed in. It was however the deep pain of transitioning from a daughter to a caregiver and all that entails that was the motivation to have a go at making a difference. Hence Thrive-Community was born.

 

If you could start this company again what would you go back and tell yourself not to do and what would you recommend doing more of? 

We have learned a great deal in our infancy. A key recommendation is to ensure that you continuously talk to your personas and include their feedback. Our challenge was accessibility for older Thrivers. We were so focused on this in our first Alpha launch that we lost sight a little of our caregivers and organizations. Talking to our testers we got told straight out – we want usability and ease as much as Thrivers. Once that message landed, progress was faster. Talk to your customers as often as you can.

The second point, we tried outsourcing development for speed instead of searching for the right developers early on and setting up an inhouse team. That was not a wise move, so we took the pain to recruit internally. Going forward the key functions will always remain in-house.

 

A favorite book and band, with one sentence why…

  • Book: Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom. Reminds me of the importance of gratitude and example in life.
  • Band: Santana – many happy memories of events and activities. Love the guitars and saxophones.

 

To me / our company, aging is ________

The third phase of life to be lived to the fullest focusing on the positives, acknowledging the challenges but engaging with others to have a meaningful existence as defined by you.

 

What’s one thing you hope the AgeTech Collaborative will help you achieve?

Collectively I would like to know that we will push the boundaries to deliver to our aspirations and make a significant difference to the aging experience for all.

 

Predictions: Looking out 10 years what do you think might be a common experience or behavior or accepted product / practice that people are fearful or skeptical of today?

I believe that the use of technology in the aging sector will be an everyday practice. The use of AI/ML to improve independence and healthy longevity will be accessible to everyone and the stereotypical views of 80 year-olds being technophobic will be thing of the past.

 


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