Fayvor, a companion care service that launched in Durham, Wake, Orange and Chatham counties almost four months ago, is off to a positive start.
Co-Founders Dana Yobst and Ashley Hart met through mutual friends back in June. Yobst has 20+ years of experience in sales, marketing and business development, primarily in Silicon Valley, while Hart was a nurse in the ICU unit at Duke University Health and has experience in hospitality management.
As the two women discussed their professions, they instantly began brainstorming to create a service for flexible companion care.
Yobst had moved to Durham from San Francisco after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and sought treatment at Duke Health. After experiencing every possible side-effect imaginable, it was close to impossible to care for her two young children, she said.
Meanwhile Hart, a Durham local, was pregnant with her second son when she went to a feeding clinic in New Jersey to get help with her first-born son. While there, she fell off a step and broke both ankles. She was wheelchair-bound for months and struggled to care for her then-toddler.
Both women remembered how hard it was to take care of their young ones while recovering from illnesses and injuries. They needed help, but the responsibility was on them to find and screen caretakers.
Yobst and Hart knew they wanted to create a platform to connect independent, fully vetted care providers with compatible clients. The service primarily targets clients who are recovering from injuries, deal with chronic illnesses, or care for elderly relatives and could use some assistance either for themselves or with those they’re helping.
“We have found stay-at-home parents or young retirees are the best for hands-on care providers,” said Hart. “They would say ‘I want to feel needed and I want to contribute,’ and Fayvor allows them to do that.”
Hart said at the moment she hand-matches each client for compatibility. “We treat it like a dating site,” said Hart. “We match people based on political views or hobbies like fitness or exercise or gardening, as well as matching based on common interests, previous geographic areas and jobs.”
Fayvor is rapidly moving toward a more automatic and scalable matching method that keeps the personal touch. The company has teamed up with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Computer Science, working specifically with students in the COMP 523 course, Software Engineering Lab. Yobst says the students are molding an algorithm to allow Fayvor to link up clients and providers based on their individualized needs and fit. The new platform is expected to launch in mid-December.
“So we will have information about the providers, clients and feedback from previous appointments in the machine-learning algorithm that will predict future compatibility and consider availability, too,” said Yobst.
While the algorithm will go through the skills and personality matching, it will also source availability, which will then present how many providers are available for the specified time.
“It’ll tell you how many providers are available and if they’re a 90 percent fit or 10 percent fit or 100 percent fit,” Yobst said. “Obviously some of those factors are binary — for example, availability. While some of it is fuzzier.”
The company is a little over four months old, but the two founders believe it’ll continue to grow based on client retention to date and the feedback they’ve received from them.
“We haven’t had a bad Fayvor review yet,” said Yobst. “It’s been very positive so far.”