Getting to Know You: Pete Dowds, CEO & Co-Founder, Elder

Pete Dowds is an ex-lawyer turned entrepreneur who founded Elder, a live-in care agency that offers an alternative to the traditional care home.

What do you currently do at Elder?

I co-founded Elder back in 2015. Now, my role as CEO is very much about steering the strategic direction of the company.

That’s about looking into the future about what we need to do to improve our service, to provide a better experience for our customers – and to really open up care in the home as an option to families regardless of their background or their care needs.

Currently, we operate in around 330 towns and cities across the UK, we’ve delivered over half a million days of care. I hope to expand this to even more and make Elder a household name.

It takes a great team of people to do that. So, I work with the rest of the management team to ensure we have the best people in the company.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

I’ve always been someone with a desire to answer and fix problems so, when my mum and auntie were struggling to find the right care for my grandma, I felt there needed to be an alternative solution to the traditional care home.

Progressively, the mindset of those leading these institutions has been one of human endurance over human experience. An obsession with minimising risk at the expense of granting adults autonomy and self-respect. It’s seen as a trade-off.

Unfortunately, many families are not aware of other options when a loved one starts to need extra care and support. I founded Elder as that very alternative.

I want to drive awareness that there are other care options out there, and people don’t necessarily always have to move out of their home to receive round the clock care. They don’t have to give up their control, choice and independence.

At Elder, we match people with carers based on more than just their care needs, but their personality and preferences, and when that carer moves into their home, they’re comfortable and happy that they’re getting the best care possible, and that was truly my inspiration for the business.

What do you admire?

One of the main things I admire, is how companies can utilise technology to solve societal issues, and within this, I admire the company founders who have done this well to provide a service to the public.  

Elder is a technology-enabled care company. And while tech is in our DNA, people are the heart of it. We use the expertise of a fantastic team of developers and product managers to create digital solutions that make complicated, stressful tasks simple.

ElderMatch which uses intricate data to create the perfect pairing between our care professionals and care receivers. We’ve got CareOS, which communicates everything about a customer and their needs to the care professional. As well as Elder Hub and MyElder, which enable carers and customers to manage everything easily.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I’ve learnt a lot through my previous entrepreneurial endeavours, so when it came to starting Elder, I had already gone through some learning curves. I realised that we needed to think more about what made the company special and different for our customers.

What defines your way of doing business?

At Elder, we’re driven by people and the experience they have with us – whether they’re a carer, a customer or an employee. I owe our fantastic Net Promoter Score to this ethos and way of working, as this is really hard to achieve.

Equally, we believe in the value of coming together. Over lockdown, we started having weekly companywide calls to catch up on what everyone is doing so that we keep that sense of community.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

I would advise to over communicate. It’s so important to put time into your relationships with staff so everyone in the business is on the same page, especially once it starts to grow. Share information and be honest about where the company is at with costs and people, whether it be positive or negative. Sometimes you need to be vulnerable to your staff to get the best out of them and the company.