Founder Feature: Margie Bensching
January 5, 2023
Meet Margie Bensching (she/her). Margie is the CEO and Founder of GoldenSHERPA, a senior living marketplace that connects people with senior living communities.
Margie ran into her own crisis of balancing work and navigating how she would make sure her father was taken care of in his golden years after her mother passed away and this is how GoldenSHERPA was born.
We interviewed Margie to better understand what GoldenSHERPA does, what her biggest learning opportunity was, and how you can help her move her business forward in 2023!
Tell us about your startup:
GoldenSHERPA, is a senior living marketplace that connects people looking for senior living communities with available options. We are not a referral service; we do not sell personal information. Instead, we vet and invite senior communities and senior living providers of service to subscribe to our online marketplace. The senior living community or service providers pay a subscription to be featured on the marketplace and connect directly with families
What inspired you to start this startup?
In 2014, my mother passed away, leaving her husband, my father, alone across the country. I didn’t know what to do; I lived in Washington State, he lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, my sister was in California, and my brother was in DC; he was the closest, about five hours away. We were all over the place.
I couldn’t concentrate at work because I was worried about what Dad would do. No one taught me how to care for my parents in the Golden Years. I was in crisis. I looked online, but I couldn’t find anything to help me that didn’t require my Dad’s personal information. I had to find a new way of life for my dad.
As he aged, I needed to know he was safe. My kids were safe when I went to work because I had excellent daycare, but this was my dad. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I needed a place to find accurate information about the options available in senior living. I wanted to understand the senior living market in each city. I wanted information, and I didn’t want anyone to call me.
That’s when I realized something was missing in the senior living space and I started my company GoldenSHERPA. Senior living communities and people looking for availability and information in senior living find it frustrating and challenging. We make it simple.
What ONE thing would help you out the most with moving your startup to the next step?
I need more people to register on the marketplace and connect with our subscribers. It is free to use. We are not a referral company. We have toured and vetted all our featured senior living provider subscribers to save caregivers and professionals in the senior care space-time.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your startup?
I wish I had known more about building and using my network. I moved my idea forward because of past relationships, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I was using my network. Since then, I have worked on developing my network, which has opened doors for me.
What was your biggest mistake (aka learning opportunity) when you VERY first started?
When I started GoldenSHERPA, I invited a family member to help me with the company. We agreed on the level of commitment and my expectations for the role; however, this person couldn’t commit to the level I expected. They provided advice, connected us to key members, and did some work on our behalf; however, their daily or weekly input was not consistent or substantial enough for my needs then.
It took more than ideas to start a company; we needed workers at the beginning. With time and experience, I learned that it is essential for co-founders to share expectations about their roles and responsibilities from the outset—to be very clear about what each person will do and be responsible for.
What impact on your community are you hoping that your startup has?
I want seniors and caregivers in my community to have free-flowing information when they begin to “think” that they or their loved ones need support as they age.
The senior living industry is fractured. By reducing fragmentation, we can reduce the time it takes for seniors to get care. Suppose you’re a caregiver in Spokane, Washington, with a loved one in Missoula, Montana, who needs in-home care. In that case, I want you to know who has an opening to offer care, what type of care they can offer and what their starting rates are without the hassle of sales calls or their selling personal information.
Name your biggest motivator/inspiration to continue doing the work that you do.
My motivation comes from the people who use our marketplace. Our caregiver users find it comforting to access information about senior living options without giving up their loved one’s personal information. Our senior users don’t want a salesperson constantly calling or emailing them during their discovery phase. It is frustrating for caregivers and seniors to get constant phone calls and emails. Our senior living community subscribers prefer to avoid paying thousands of dollars in commission fees or being passed over because they are new to the market. They want to market directly to potential clients we give them that option. It’s a motivator when our senior living community subscriber saves thousands of dollars when they connect with our user customers.
One piece of advice that you would give to a budding tech startup entrepreneur.
Starting a tech company requires long hours of hard work. If you want to succeed, you must be passionate enough to pour your energy into research, development, and marketing. Online tech is not a widget; you don’t make money until you have spent it on development and promotion. You need a crazy passion to make it possible to work tirelessly toward your vision, even when you’re tired or a pandemic brings major economic disruption to your paying customers.
You can connect with Margie on LinkedIn and keep up with GoldenSHERPA on socials: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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