There are about 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the United States, each spending on average nearly $7,000 a year to take care of friends and family, according to the AARP.
Las Vegas entrepreneur Anthony Rufo is hoping to make their lives easier with HAPPIE Home, a digital companion and monitor.
Local entrepreneur Rufo calls HAPPIE Home the “hub of the home.” It’s similar to smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa or a Google Home but incorporates microphones and cameras to help caregivers keep watch of loved ones.
“It is often the case that a caregiver will pass up a promotion, might move from full time to part-time work or stop working altogether because they can’t do it all,” Rufo said. “If they had a digital assistant that was monitoring everything … that makes the most amount of sense.”
At Thursday’s Governor’s Office of Economic Development meeting, HAPPIE Home was approved for $113,081 in tax abatements for Rufo to move the company from Henderson next year to a facility near the University Medical Center.
Happie Home is planning to make a capital investment of $130,000, and Rufo plans to starts testing across Southern Nevada in April or May and officially launch by the third quarter of 2019.
There are more than 500,000 unpaid caregivers in Nevada alone, and 71 percent of all caregivers are interested in using technology to support their tasks, according to the AARP.
How it works
HAPPIE — an acronym for Helping All People Promote Independence Everyday — allows caregivers to monitor friends and family members, allowing them independence in their own home and making the caregivers’ job easier.
Rufo got the idea for the startup after watching his sisters take care of his mother in Long Island, New York. As his mother grew older, she increasingly requested visits and help from her daughters, most of whom lived an hour away.
The in-home digital companion can send alerts to take medication, bring up calendar reminders, call 911, read texts and more. There are attachments that can give caregivers’ smartphones’ access to cameras and other monitors set up in the house so they can check in during emergencies such as a fall.
“It’s wild how much you can control from a smartphone,” Rufo said. “You have the cameras throughout the house, you’re looking around … I can communicate through the microphones and speakers in the house.”
Rufo said he had heard concerns over privacy, but he thinks HAPPIE Home will provide more independence for those being watched over by helping them avoid moving prematurely to a nursing home.
“More times than not, the comment that we get is, ‘If someone could be looking in on me and not bother me, then I’m good with that,’” he said.
HAPPIE Home is slated to provide more than $11.2 million in new tax revenue over the next 10 years. The company plans to hire 51 employees within the first year of operations at an average hourly wage of $35.18.
Jared Smith, chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, said HAPPIE Home’s launch is a testament to the business-friendly policies in Southern Nevada.
“Small-business growth is the cornerstone of a thriving community,” he said in an email.
In other action Thursday, the Economic Development Office approved $27.7 million in tax abatements for existing, expanding and new Nevada companies in return for more than $136.7 million in total tax revenue. Of that, $26.5 million was awarded to companies in Southern Nevada.
Awarded tax abatements: $25,237,000
Anticipated capital investment: $600 million over the next 20 years
Design LLC, a subsidiary of Google, is building a $600 million data center in Henderson and start operations by December 2020. Google would hire 50 employees within the first five years of operation at an average hourly rate of $31.25.
Awarded tax abatements: $1,160,187
Anticipated capital investment: $13.6 million
Bottled water manufacturer Premium Waters plans to add another line to its facility in North Las Vegas, increasing its facility from 160,000 square feet to 290,000 square feet. The company would hire an additional 12 employees at an average hourly wage of $22.89.
Awarded tax abatements: $31,748
Anticipated capital investment: $129,000
Software company Owned Outcomes is considering expanding its operations in Southern Nevada by expanding its 2,000-square-foot facility by more than 4,000 square feet in the next few months. The company would create 12 jobs at an average hourly wage of $35.15.
Contact Bailey Schulz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.