Helping Those Challenged by the Aging Journey

Madeline Dangerfield-Cha

The intergenerational connections forged by being raised by a single mom and her maternal grandmother inspired Ulupreneur Madeline Dangerfield-Cha’s world view and fueled her passions. 

After graduating from Columbia University, Madeline began her career in education and marketing. She moved to Singapore, opening an office for Essence Digital. After three years of helping to grow an original team of four to more than 100 in the region, she decided to join the Stanford MBA program. While at Stanford, she met soon-to-be co-founder and kindred spirit Joy Zhang. Joy had been a hospice and dementia care volunteer since high school; they bonded, and grew determined to help those challenged by the aging journey. The pair spoke to hundreds of women who were caring for aging parents and relatives. From those interviews, they figured out what those caregivers needed the most: a friend for their mom or dad, someone with whom to share their stories when family couldn’t be there. Madeline and Joy wanted to build something that allowed older adults to continue to receive high-quality care and age with dignity in the place of their choosing. 

Mon Ami co-founders

In 2018 they created Mon Ami, which means “my friend” in French. It’s a database used by national government agencies serving older adults and people with disabilities, so they can deliver better care in order to meet the coming challenges of the U.S.’s impending demographic shift.

We interviewed Madeline about her journey and her tips for founders and she told us in this  short video about how tough it’s been for two women of color to raise money from investors.

What are your tips for other fundraising founders?

It is a really difficult journey, especially if you are not a traditional founder with existing connections and networks. But it’s worth it—because in order to build your dream, you need to find passionate people who see the vision and are able to supercharge your energy. And that’s how we felt about Ulu Ventures. An equally critical part of the fundraising process is a strong belief in yourself and the vision. 

How was the market mapping experience with Ulu?

We did the market mapping exercise with Clint as part of his initial investment in Mon Ami, and we’ve since shared that with multiple other investors. It was useful both in how we learn to structure getting someone up to speed on our market, because it’s a pretty niche market. [It’s also helpful in learning] how to think rigorously about the opportunity that we present with the business.

What are your dreams for Mon Ami?

We dream that Mon Ami will become the largest healthcare social care tech company in the United States, and that we are going to be the system of record for state Medicaid and aging departments for 50% of states in the next 10 years, which will allow us to touch the aging journey both inside and outside of health care for all the seniors in this country.

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Rusty Dornin
Rusty Dornin is the director of marketing and communications for Ulu Ventures. An award-winning radio and television journalist, she was a CNN correspondent for nearly 18 years covering domestic and world news ranging from war to natural disasters and tales of crime and politics.
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