Candice Smith is the CEO and Founder of Caregiven. Caregiven was born out of a simple, hard-learned truth: there is nothing in life that prepares us for the diagnosis of a loved one. Candice’s experience in her father’s passing gave her the strength to create a caregiving app targeted at empowering and guiding family caregivers to support their loved one through all the practical and poignant tasks that comprise the end-of-life journey.
Tell us about your company. What inspired you to start it?
Caregiven is a digital health platform that guides families to the end-of-life support and services they need so they can spend less time on administrative tasks and more meaningful time with their loved-one. I founded Caregiven so that no other woman would feel as overwhelmed and un-empowered when caring for their loved-one as I did with my Dad.
Who are your cofounders and what makes you a great team?
Currently I have no co-founder but I would love to collaborate with someone who shares this vision. An important member of the Caregiven team is Max Arbow, a digital-health expert who has dedicated his career to developing products for the sickest of the sick. I am also fortunate to be working with some incredible partners, such as Particle Design, who have been integral is developing Caregiven’s user experience.
How is your company making a difference?
By guiding and supporting each individual and family caring for someone who won’t get better, Caregiven provides comfort and control to a time previously fraught with overwhelm and fear. In so doing, we empower users to focus equally on saying what needs to be said and hearing what needs to be heard; so they are best able to honor wishes and therefore reduce the likelihood of the complicated grief or long-term depression often linked to loss. The difference Caregiven makes is between wishing you had more time with your loved-one and knowing that you made the most of the time you had.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
As humans we don’t like to discuss painful topics and there is nothing more painful than death. Therefore it is very challenging to be building a company about a topic that is taboo. I’ve had potential investors tell me that they “wanted to live longer, not die better”, that “death isn’t sticky” or advised that in order to get their investment I need to stir their emotions but that when I started talking about Caregiven I made them too emotional to focus on my vision. Oh, I’ve also been told that as a female founder I’m too old to be fundable. I’m 46.
What is your biggest win?
Phil Libin, founder of Evernote, told me that he thought that Caregiven was the right product using the right technology at the right time and that my passion and ability to lead the company gave me a high likelihood of success.
Who is your role model?
My father is my role model – he lived his life simply, rising to the occasion when it was required, didn’t sugarcoat and didn’t mislead.
What do you wish you had known before starting your company?
That fundraising would be 90% of the CEO’s job. I spent 20+ years fundraising for nonprofits and was quite happy to leave that profession to focus on building Caregiven.
Anything else you want people to know?
I’m always happy to talk to other entrepreneurs and to open my networks when possible.