Lottie: Chris and Will Donnelly

Lottie is a new digital platform which seeks to detangle the confusing landscape of social care, and connect loved ones with high quality, appropriately supportive care homes and communities.

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Helena Young

Name of founders: Chris Donnelly, Will Donnelly
Ages of the founders: 30 and 27
Location: London
Date launched: June 2021
Number of employees: 5

What does your business do?

Lottie helps families to place their loved ones into the best care homes and retirement living. Our platform supports care seekers in researching the best homes, ensuring their loved ones receive the care they require and helping them to find the best, most affordable fees.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Will Donnelly worked in the social care space for six years previously and quickly came to realise that the social care space is incredibly opaque and complicated for the consumer to navigate. Lottie was born to provide our customers with easy-to-use search functionality and to provide transparency around facilities, quality of care and pricing.

How did you know there was a market for it?

The first thing we did as a brand was run large customer surveys across the UK to assess the demand for a platform like our own. It was clear both from the surveys and the customer research interviews that the market really needed a product like Lottie.

What were you doing before launching your business?

For the last 10 years, I have built Verb Brands – one of the leading digital agencies for luxury and premium brands.

Have you always dreamed of starting a business?

I am lucky in the sense that I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My dad has run his own business for about 20 years and so, even growing up, I think my brothers and I were born with the belief that it was possible to go out on your own and really make something happen!

How did you finance your business?

We were lucky enough to be funded by some of the most impressive angels in the UK, including Tom Blomfield (founder of Monzo) and Victoria Van Lennep (co-founder of Lendable).

Explain your business model and how you make money.

Lottie works to place individuals in care homes and are compensated by the homes for providing them with this service. It’s a free service for care seekers.

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

The main challenges so far have been around hiring. Finding individuals who are both excellent at their roles and have a passion to work in healthcare is very challenging.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

It has been a very challenging period for many. However from a specific, Lottie point of view, we are seen more as an antidote to a really poor social care situation and therefore we have been well received by both the care home providers and the families around the UK that we are working with.

Describe your first breakthrough.

The first true breakthrough moment was placing our first customer into one of our partner homes. We always deliver an amazing service but we put together a very personalised gift and were there on the day they moved into their new home to deliver the gift and welcome them.

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

We haven’t noticed any particular impacts from Brexit, although we are aware that this has had significant impacts on our care partners, especially when it comes to staffing.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

Work out how to generate revenue very early on, and ask your customers for feedback regularly.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

Do not get distracted by the multitude of other business models and opportunities within our sector and purview, keep focused on the core service and drive towards being the best brand out there for helping individuals find the highest quality care for their loved ones.

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

I truly believe that Lottie will go on to become a driving force in the social care space. Within three years, we want to be serving the addressable private pay market in totality before looking to develop our product further.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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