Ākina-18

Three words to describe WeVisit? People, people, people.

WeVisit believes that everyone, young or old, has something to offer, and this has changed the way they think about aged care.

New Zealand is facing an ageing population; it’s estimated that the number of older people requiring care will double by 2036 while the number of caregivers will come up 26,800 short to meet that need. While this shortage will create unprecedented demand for aged care support, it also creates an unprecedented opportunity for innovation in the industry. And this is where Sam Johnson and Tyler Brummer, the founders of WeVisit, come in.

WeVisit is doing things WITH people, not FOR people.

WeVisit has developed a model of personalised matching which connects young people with elderly in need of assistance. WeVisit enables intergenerational skill sharing, providing opportunities for both old and young to share their experiences with each other. In doing so, youth gain the practical experience and soft skills that are difficult to learn at school, while an aged person gets the help they need around the home. The goal is to create a community of engaged and connected people who are thriving through mutually beneficial relationships.  

WeVisit began operating in Christchurch in 2016 and, as a participant in Launchpad Work, are aiming to continue scaling their business, particularly into the Auckland market, while continuing to develop and iterate their products.

After getting to know Sam & Tyler, it’s no surprise that the business they’ve founded is all about people. Back in 2010 Sam made history as the founder and leader of the ‘Student Volunteer Army’, and was awarded Young New Zealander of the year for his efforts in disaster relief. Through this experience he learned that people will go the extra mile for ‘strangers’ if you give them the excuse to do so, and he sees WeVisit as another opportunity bring out the best in communities.

Tyler on the other hand, moved to New Zealand four years ago to complete his PhD in Ecosystem Ecology. He is much more interested in people than that title may have you believe, and is increasingly amazed at the positive impact simple connections can have. He has found that bringing people together across generations and socio-economic backgrounds can combat a broad range of issues we face today, from lack of education access, through to suicide and mental health. “Unless we fundamentally shift the way we develop these community based relationships to mutually support one another, I don’t know if we’ll make serious progress in health or education.”

One of the unique and great things about WeVisit is the extent they’ve let people drive their business. Not only did they found it to help people, but they’ve also been talking to people consistently throughout their journey to ensure that what they are doing is what people need. And by talking, we don’t just mean light-level customer validation. To ensure they really understood their customers properly, WeVisit have even engaged a social anthropologist.

Social Anthropologists interview, observe and participate in a group in order to understand their perspective. This data is collected and compiled into a written report, a useful way of understanding a community’s needs and measuring a business’ social-impact.

While many start ups struggle to prioritise the time in the early stages to do complex and deep research into their customers, Sam and Tyler have found that ethnography has been invaluable to WeVisit, as it not only identified problems their customers are facing, but also guided the mission of their entire business.

A simple example of a problem this research uncovered centers around the struggle elderly have with technology. Family members often tried to help elderly through this, but this was often quite a frustrating situation for all and it generally wasn’t an effective solution. But having a ‘stranger’ help them with the technology didn’t result in the same frustrations. As Sam says, “we are always a better version of ourselves when we help someone who isn’t immediate family”. So, WeVisit have since created the WeVisit Tech Help, where they match unrelated young people with elderly to teach them how to use their technology.

At a high level, the research has helped them understand the needs of their customers and the community they hope to impact. It has led to the realisation that they are not just creating a service, but creating lasting friendships in people’s lives.

Our philosophy is that we can all benefit from connecting with each other.

Moving ahead, WeVisit are looking forward to a stronger national presence. They believe that fostering these relationships has the potential to change our stories across a number of areas, from aged care to mental health, unemployment and inequality.

Whether developing a business model, engaging in social research, or looking for societal development; WeVisit have found potential in taking the time to listen to one another.