Jan 22, 2024 - Health

Exclusive: Say hi to Ohai.ai from Care.com founder

Illustration of a large robot hand using a tiny feather duster, sweeping dust.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ohai.ai, a venture-backed startup from Care.com founder and former CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo, has emerged from stealth to help households stay organized, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The company believes that its virtual assistance platform, dubbed "O," can lighten the mental load of family schedule management and task delegation.

How it works: Artificial intelligence and humans power O.

  • Within the free, basic tier, O offers daily schedule summaries and alerts for calendar openings and conflicts with connected family members.
  • For $25 a month, customers can also use O to scan texts, photos, emails and other documents to add events to calendars automatically; delegate tasks like pickups and drop-offs; and make appointments by phone.

The intrigue: Most tasks are completed by AI right now, the company says.

  • For tasks where humans have to be involved — such as booking appointments — Ohai.ai says AI is being trained "in parallel."

The big picture: The mission of Ohai.ai — branded to sound like an uplifting greeting, "Oh hi!" — reflects Lirio Marcelo's longtime focus on caregivers.

  • She launched Care.com, a platform that connects families to various household providers, nearly 20 years ago after her experience of having to care for a young child and ill parent at the same time.
  • Since leaving the company three years ago as then-chairwoman following brand conglomerate IAC's acquisition, Lirio Marcelo became a venture partner at New Enterprise Associates and a founding board member of The Asian American Foundation.

From a leadership perspective, Lirio Marcelo says she's much "chiller" this second time around.

  • She's working with people she's worked with in the past and she knows now what to ignore — like details on a homepage that may or may not drive conversion.

What they're saying: While the virtual assistant economy has become saturated, Lirio Marcelo says Ohai.ai is focused on "specific communication issues and coordination" within family dynamics.

  • This includes divorced parents and siblings that have to look after a parent, she says.
  • "Some people will say, it's narrow in my focus, but I actually think that the total addressable market of this is massive," she adds.
  • "It's actually bigger than Care.com's, because it's not just people who are comfortable outsourcing care ... every family needs to coordinate everyday care for their loved ones."

By the numbers: Ohai.ai is fully remote and currently has about 20 full-time employees, including former Care.com senior leaders Lauren Tornow and Ragini Pathak, as well as five human assistants.

  • With $6 million raised in seed financing c0-led by Eniac Ventures and LifeX Ventures, Lirio Marcelo says the company has "plenty of runway" to get to an A round.

What to watch: "Ohai.ai reminds me of Uber, where I was one of the first angel investors," Nihal Mehta, co-founder of Eniac Ventures, tells Axios.

  • "[W]e believe [that] Ohai similarly represents a mass market consumer application leveraging AI as a platform," Mehta says.
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