Steven Lee Helps Caregivers Connect Through Tech

Partnering people and resources

Since Steven Lee's grandfather experienced caregiving challenges when he was fighting Parkinson's, the serial entrepreneur felt he had to do something about it. 

Lee is the co-founder, president, and chief operating officer of ianacare, a health tech company that created a platform for family caregivers looking for more resources in the industry. He teamed up with his co-founder, Jessica Kim, in 2018 to launch ianacare. The pair is on a mission to provide the best practices for people navigating through the caregiving journey.

Ianacare cofounder, president, and COO, Steven Lee.
Ianacare cofounder, president, and COO, Steven Lee.

Ianacare

Ianacare's platform offers personal and professional resources, including coaching, peer support groups, curated programs and services, employee benefits, and more. The company has a team of seven full-timers and 20 contracted developers. 

"All of the gaps that existed with caregiving three decades ago when I was caring for my grandfather still exist today," Lee told Lifewire in a phone interview. "We want to encourage, empower, and equip family caregivers with the resources they need, because they really need that support." 

Quick Facts

  • Name: Steven Lee
  • Age: 46
  • From: Ridgecrest, California, which is located in the Mojave Desert
  • Random delight: He flies airplanes! 
  • Key quote or motto: "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney

Becoming a Serial Entrepreneur 

Lee's parents are immigrants from Hong Kong. They moved to the United States to pursue higher education before Lee's dad was offered a job back in China. Shortly after Lee was born, his family packed up and moved back to their native country. They stayed there for a decade before returning to the US. 

"Of all places, we moved to Akron, Ohio, from Hong Kong," Lee said. "I went to elementary and middle school there before attending high school in Toledo. I've been living in Boston for most of my life since."

Lee attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for college, where he closely studied speech recognition tech. His father was an engineering professor, and Lee said he always knew he would be an engineer.

His official major at MIT was electrical engineering and computer science, and upon graduating, he joined a startup called Speech Works, which spun out of the research lab where he had worked on campus. The company went public in August 2000 before being acquired.

"I always had this strong interest in business," Lee said. "So it wasn't just about tech for tech's sake, but I was interested in tech as a means to build better businesses that do something good."

Steven Lee and Jessica Kim.
Steven Lee and Jessica Kim.

Ianacare

Lee linked up with a college buddy to launch his first venture in 2005, a video advertising provider called ScanScout, which Tremor Video acquired in 2010. Lee served as Tremor's chief technology officer for six years before deciding it was time to move on. 

"I learned a lot through that journey," Lee said. "I was craving my next entrepreneurial venture and itching to build something from scratch. I wanted to do something meaningful."

Guidance Is Key

When Lee connected with Kim, she was experiencing the same caregiving challenges while caring for her mother, who was fighting pancreatic cancer. The "i-a-n-a" in ianacare stands for "I am not alone," and the two-fold meaning speaks to caregivers and those who need caregiving.

That also goes for the minority founders, themselves, who maintain a network of experienced mentors to help them navigate business challenges.

"Launching a startup is one of the toughest things you can do," he said. "There's no structure. There's no right or wrong, and it's completely up to you to make good decisions about your business's path. The support system is huge."

"We hear every day from caregivers that we've helped ease their journeys during a very difficult time."

It's because of that support that ianacare's founders were able to bootstrap the company through its early days. Lee and Kim funded the company themselves before securing investors and venture capital. Ianacare has raised $3 million in funding since its launch.

"The market is there, and there is a need, but we wanted to validate our platform before accepting outside capital," Lee said. 

Outside of landing some funding, Lee said he is most proud of how ianacare has connected with thousands of caregivers to use its services. Over the next few years, he is looking forward to attracting more caregivers to ianacare's platform and sharing metrics about how the company is changing the caregiving industry. 

"We hear every day from caregivers that we've helped ease their journeys during a very difficult time," Lee said. "We are creating a sustainable solution to a systemic problem."

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