French billionaire Xavier Niel invested in UK carer startup Cera

Cera cofounder Ben MaruthappuCeraCera cofounder Ben Maruthappu

Cera, a startup which matches carers to patients, has raised £1.4 million in seed funding from investors including French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel.

The round brings Cera’s funding total to £2.7 million, and was led by Credo Ventures. New investors included Xavier’s vehicle, Kima Ventures.

Cera’s sell is that it can assign a carer to a patient faster than other homecare providers, because it’s a tech-enabled platform and “doesn’t rely on pen and paper”, in the words of cofounder Ben Maruthappu.

The startup wants to solve the issue of “bedblocking,” where older patients could be discharged from hospital, but remain on the ward because the NHS can’t provide them with a carer fast enough.

The startup is a year old and has signed contracts with 10 NHS organisations, as well as a partnership with Uber to provide transport for older people through its platform. Most of its customers pay Cera for their own care, because they don’t qualify for state-funded care, Maruthappu told Business Insider in an interview.

He said Cera’s lower overheads mean it can pay carers 50% more than other providers, which mostly pay the National Living Wage. The startup recruits carers directly, and provides training through its platform.

The company will use its funding for partnerships like its Uber deal. That partnership gives patients easy access to transport without having to own a smartphone themselves.

“Our second priority is providing tech-enabled services to our users,” Maruthappu said. “The Uber partnership is one illustration, but [it could expand to] food deliveries, or introducing a smart home device, or accessing a GP on-demand. We want to be a one-stop shop for our user. There are lots of individuals who don’t have smartphones, but through our carers, people can still access other tech-enabled opportunities.”

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