Homegrown Business: Kyle Rand, Co-Founder & CEO of Rendever

Rendever is a business that is overcoming social isolation through the power of virtual reality. We spoke with Kyle Rand, Co-Founder & CEO, to find out more about them.

Rendever

What is your business called and what does it do?

Rendever is overcoming social isolation through the power of virtual reality and shared experiences. In more than 350 senior living communities around the world, our platform is being used to reduce depression and loneliness by fostering personal connections amongst populations where life has become limited – focusing primarily on senior living communities and hospice and healthcare organizations.

Residents in group sessions can check off bucket list items together, revisit their childhood homes and share stories, stay engaged with family members, and so much more. We’ve also just announced a fitness platform designed specifically for these populations that ties together physical exercise, cognitive stimulation, and social interaction.

What made you want to do this work?

Older adults have had a very special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my friends and I spent every summer volunteering and scooping ice cream at a local senior living community. I remember the feeling when the residents’ faces lit up if we knew exactly what they wanted (rum raisin with chocolate sprinkles was a favourite combo!). It was profound to learn how such a simple act of kindness could be so impactful.

I then went to Duke and did a dual program in cognitive neuroscience and biomedical engineering, and one of my areas of research was dedicated to studying the cognitive decline in the ageing population. We were particularly interested in decision-making processes, and understanding the correlation between structural changes in the brain and deficits in economic decision-making that arise as we age. The research was fascinating, but I truly learned a lot about interaction design throughout the data collection process – and candidly just loved sitting and chatting with the older adults throughout the process.

As I was wrapping up at school, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, which triggered the “what next?” process for my parents, aunt and uncle. Ultimately, my family decided to move her into a senior living community, and the transition wasn’t easy on anyone – it really opened my eyes to the addressable pain points of the modern ageing process and how stressful it can be to find good quality care that matches a good quality of life. This stuck with me until I eventually took the leap and cofounded Rendever.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

Social isolation. Before the pandemic, so few people understood just how detrimental social isolation tends to be – especially for older adults. It’s more than being lonely; social isolation is as detrimental to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. It correlates with a whole host of comorbidities, including a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke and a 50% increase in dementia. It’s at the epicentre of a lot of what can go wrong and prevent somebody from enjoying a healthy ageing process – and we can change that.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

We primarily work with senior living communities and healthcare organizations. Today, we serve over 300 organizations across the US, Canada, and Australia.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

Rendever is a subscription-based company with an upfront capital expense, so we’ve carefully navigated the duality of our pricing to make sure we’re continually optimizing towards driving impact through growth. Our partners receive best-in-class programming with weekly updates, a suite of tools designed for staff to lead impactful experiences, an entire family portal, and more.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

US, Canada and Australia actually

Communities in Toronto: ​​Extendicare Rouge Valley, Baycrest

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

Are you really providing us with a service?

The people who make careers in senior living – and healthcare broadly – are incredibly impassioned about the work that they do. They commit to their roles, and it’s inspiring to see because that commitment is what leads to incredible impact. It is our job to empower them to do their jobs better and to make it easier for them to change somebody’s life – that’s why we take the service component of our organization so seriously. Our Community Engagement team (the team focused on making sure our partners are truly empowered) is larger than our sales team, and they all have experience working on the frontlines of senior care. This means we take a high level of responsibility and care in everything we deliver to our partners – service is at our core. You don’t just get a set of hardware that’s going to sit on the shelf, and we’ll make sure of it with our focus on proactive engagement.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part of what we do is seeing and hearing the impact stories from our partners. There are certainly difficult parts of every job, but the stories we empower with our platform and the emotions we often evoke far outweigh anything else – they fill me and our entire team with an immense sense of pride.

Where can we follow you?

On our website and Rendever social media! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

Also sharing my personal LinkedIn and Instagram.