Tourism is a key element in today’s Europe’s strategy as it brings not only fun to those practising it, but it also supports growth and economy development in many regions in Europe. The European Commission has seen the need of making tourism accessible to all and encourages businesses to adapt their service offering to boost the competitiveness of tourism in Europe.
Bed & Care, a startup based in Italy, saw this potential and tackled the issue by working with leading hotels and medical equipment suppliers helping seniors and disabled community enjoy travelling and holidays just like anyone else.
Founded in 2016 and incubated by EBN Member Lazio Innova since the beginning of their business, Bed & Care was one of the best-performing startups at this year’s EBN Congress’ pitching competition (June 2018).
As a pioneer in this field of tourism, Bed & Care approached many hotels and health assistance companies to build a network that could enable disabled and elderly community to get a full service during the travels, and Lazio Innova has played a fundamental role in supporting the startup to achieve this. Not only the EBN Member helped them shape their business model, but also provided a range of targeted services such as coaching. Finally Bed&Care has acquired its main partner and client, Grimaldi Lines, a leading Italian company in maritime passenger transport, by participating at the Sea Boot Camp a programme for startups launched by Lazio Innova.
The startup also received funding from Smart and Start, a programme financed by Invitalia, the National Agency for inward investment and economic development, which helped them gain initial capital to develop their business.
Only 2 years since establishment, the startup has already created a large network of clients and partners across Italy and they are planning an international expansion.
The problem & solution
The idea was born in 2015. Pier Fabrizio Salberini, Bed & Care’s co-founder, worked for 15 years in healthcare assisting elderly and disabled people. During that time, he noticed how hard was for them to travel, particularly when they needed to book special assistance for their holidays. Moreover, not only the elderly and disabled community experience difficulties in enjoying their travels and access to tourism, but an additional problem is faced by their families who need to take care of their loved ones’ special needs.
Digging a bit into the problem, Pier realised that such services were indeed available but not easily reachable by the community, so he decided to connect the missing dots and create a full package for disabled and elderly people wanting to travel. Together with his wife, Serena Stefanoni, an economist bringing the business side of things, Pier started reaching out to hundreds of hotels and medical assistance companies to create a network allowing him to become the “accessibility booster” in Italy and therefore enabling the elderly and disabled people as well as their families to get access everything they could need during their holidays.
Pier and Serena, Bed & Care’s co-founders receiving an award at “Welfare che impressa”, Italian competition aimed at supporting the best regional innovative projects
How it works?
When booking via Bed & Care’s website, you will be provided with a travel package that already includes the hotel and all the medical assistance and equipment (e.g. a wheelchair) you need during the vacation. All the accompanying services will await you right at the hotel.
When booking via selected hotels or partners’ websites, you will book the holiday directly form the website of the partner without any additional fee. Once you have reserved the hotel you will have the opportunity to book the accompanying services simply following the Your Disability Manager link. The link will redirect you to the Bed & Care portal where you can complete the reservation of all the ancillary services needed.
The partner can also customise the user experience. In this case Bed&Care create a specific landing page for that specific partner.
Bed & Care and EBN Congress
Bed & Care pitched at EBN Congress startup competition in a general category with over 20 other startups, and their idea and the pitch were highly scored by the judging panel.
Serena was very happy to attend EBN Congress, comparing her experience to the feeling of being at Lazio Innova, where there is a great focus on entrepreneurs and their needs:
“It was an amazing experience being at EBN Congress and meeting all other startups who are in the same situation as us, also in the process of forming their companies. Furthermore, EBN Congress gave me the feeling that EBN really cares about entrepreneurs and their success, the same way I feel at Lazio Innova!”
While last year the startup main focus was on financing, this year they wish to strengthen the collaboration with its main partner and client: Grimaldi Lines, and at the same time continuously expand the network of hotels and health assistance companies to ensure the needs of disabled and elderly people are met across Italy. Next year, as mentioned previously, the startup plans to expand outside its home market in Italy and provide the services across Europe and beyond.
We wish them a lot of success in becoming the accessibility booster across international borders!
About Lazio Innova
Lazio Innova (former BIC Lazio) is one of the first organisations to join EBN (1990), becoming a certified EU|BIC shortly after (in 1991). Lazio Innova has been actively supporting entrepreneurship and business creation in its region (Rome, Italy), while also playing a vital role in EBN activities (EBN TechCamp 2015 co-organiser, providing mentorship to startups in EBN-led activities, participating in projects such as FabSpace 2.0 etc). Lazio Innova also specialises in supporting space-driven innovation by operating as an ESA|BIC. In addition, Lazio Innova has been engaged with EBN and its members on a strategic level - Luigi Campitelli, Lazio Innova’s Open Innovation’s Hub Director, served as EBN President from 2007 to 2010.
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