“I view caregiving as helping your loved ones,” Torchlight CEO and Founder and LifeSpeak Chief Strategy Officer Adam Goldberg recently told the LifeSpeak team.
“And you yourself are at the nucleus of that. If you aren’t well, it’s really hard for you to take care of the ones you . It’s the ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first to make sure you’re capable of taking care of others’ metaphor.”
That idea was the driving force behind Torchlight.
Torchlight is a comprehensive caregiver support platform that educates and empowers employees to resolve modern family caregiving challenges. It provides direct access to top specialists and cost-effective, scalable expertise—24/7—to reduce burnout, turnover, and absenteeism. It features decision support tools, a caregiving knowledge base, one on one advising and concierge services that can help caregivers navigate content.
In late 2021, Torchlight joined the LifeSpeak group of companies.
“When we met the LifeSpeak team, it was like these are our people who we didn’t know existed,” he says. “There was this uncanny, parallel journey that Michael and the LifeSpeak team had been on in very adjacent, complementary areas—because you can’t talk about caregiver support without talking about mental health and total wellbeing. You can’t have one without the other.”
A personal beginning
Goldberg’s journey with Torchlight has been long—he jokingly refers to it as a 10-year overnight success story. Its roots go as far back as Goldberg’s youth, when he and his mother were caregivers to his Aunt Pauline. She was on the autism spectrum and had suffered much emotional trauma. Goldberg says he had a lot of explaining to do when someone would come to his house when he was younger.
“I often had to pull the car over and de-escalate tantrums and put on very specific composers of classical music to calm her down,” Goldberg shared. “I think when you’re raised in an environment like that, you just march to a different beat.”
Goldberg attended business school and then worked in various corporate environments before entering private practice with his mom. She was the primary caregiver for his aunt and was inspired back in the 80s to start a consultancy where she could help families navigate caregiving and everything that came with it.
Throughout the process, Goldberg learned a lot. But he recognized that he could only service the people who could afford to pay consulting fees. He wanted to create something that could be life changing for millions of people dealing with the same, common challenges.
So he decided to create Torchlight, a digital platform that could scale caregiver support to reach millions of people through employers and member organizations. By embracing a B2B model, Torchlight could align with employer health plans and organizational goals for employee wellbeing to democratize access to caregiving support.
“It’s just way too expensive to have me or my mom in every circumstance spend hours with somebody,” Goldberg says. “That’s what is very unique about us. We built what we liken to a Turbo Tax for navigating all these challenges for children and elder loved ones and for supporting yourself in the middle of it all.”
Building a digital platform, one step at a time
But the process wasn’t quick or easy. Torchlight bootstrapped, raised a little money and built its digital platform. Once it earned more customers, it raised a little more money. The process repeated as the company gradually improved the platform and expanded its audience. Torchlight never raised a “crazy amount” of growth capital but remained intent on having the business fuel itself.
The first digital versions of Torchlight helped parents struggling to navigate school systems and services for their children. Eventually it expanded to include support for caregivers with loved ones at the other end of the spectrum: the aging and elderly. Goldberg says caregiving can range from autism to Alzheimer’s, managing screen time to avoiding senior scams, and so much more.
“We had learned and gotten our butts kicked so much doing the child piece that we ended up doing the elder expansion in probably an eighth of the time—and it’s just as rich,” Goldberg says. “It just goes to show you’ve got to make every mistake in the world until
The lack of general awareness that caregivers need this type of support made the process even harder. One of Torchlight’s greatest strengths was therefore also one of its biggest challenges: being far enough ahead of the curve on caregiver support, in the innovator and early adopter phase, that it really had to “beat the drum” and insist caregiver support was an unrecognized need.
“We were having to educate a market, which humbly we ended up doing,” Goldberg says. “Caregiver support didn’t exist before we created it. And now it’s recognized in the health world. It’s kind of cool to have created and be a dominant player in a category in health care. But that took a while, and you’re burning dollars the whole time and you’re keeping the faith. Ask any partner of an entrepreneur what life is like. It’s like having faith in your partner and living with that for over a decade.”
Having to remain in bootstrap mode for so long was hard. People wanted to throw money at Torchlight, but the team stayed the course, confident that eventually it would make a bigger move than any one of its competitors—even when they were completing big raises.
Torchlight now and beyond
Since then, Torchlight has come a long way. When users now log in to Torchlight for the first time, they create unique profiles, and the platform responds with recommended content and up-to-date information . It tracks engagement to provide greater personalized support through the caregiving journey with relevant videos, webinars, podcasts and more.
It also provides one-on-one expert advising and concierge services when critical caregiving needs arise. The platform builds a profile of each user that becomes more intelligent the more it’s used, so it can focus users on the content that matters most to them.
“No one has time to figure all this stuff out,” Goldberg says. “It can be really confusing and you’re typically very overwhelmed when you get into these caregiver scenarios. The whole experience is about helping families become more effective and have greater agency over navigating the stuff that’s most meaningful to them.”
At the same time, Torchlight is helping employees get back into the work seat or helping them re-engage. Its’ data-driven approach provides workforce insights to C-level executives to help uncover employee needs and enhance both performance and health outcomes. And for employers, the process is easy.
Torchlight features a quick, four-step implementation process that takes just 30 to 60 days: kickoff/discovery, program development, integration and testing, program launch. A Client Success Manager is assigned to each new client to provide da- to-day support, from implementation to launch and beyond.
“Often I’ll talk about how there is a vicious cycle,” Goldberg says. “We’re all going to work to support our loved ones and then our loved ones are very often the ones who give us grief and stress. Not that they intend to, but it’s just the fact of the matter. And that then hampers our ability to engage at work, get results, bring home earnings and support for the family member. Forward thinking employers realize you can throw a wrench in the spoke and turn the turbine in the other direction. Then you can make it a virtuous cycle.”
Goldberg says organizations can engender incredible loyalty and increase productivity by providing better wellbeing support for employees. Often, he hears that people don’t just care about the money. If they feel like a company cares for them and their family, they show up to work more committed and engaged.
Goldberg had long envisioned moving into areas like mental health and total wellbeing to support people even further. It’s part of what made the LifeSpeak partnership feel like a natural fit. The opportunity to help even more people get to that place, not just with caregiver support but total mental health and wellbeing support, has Goldberg excited about the future. Getting to where it is today is Torchlight’s biggest achievement, even if it was also its biggest challenge.
“I was lucky because I had a lot of really key people—advisors, family members, investors—who helped,” Goldberg says. “Because this is a full contact sport, and you need a team to help you get there. And the team that we have at Torchlight now—I get emotional when I look at them because it’s like this is the heart of it. The most important thing for me always was accomplishing something that seems impossible with a team of like-minded, passionate, talented, smart, caring people. And we built something special with a special group of people, and all of a sudden, we end up at LifeSpeak where there’s a whole planet full of us.
“And it’s like we’ve landed.”
Learn more about how Torchlight and the entire LifeSpeak family can help your organization support your people through the full range of family caregiving, mental health and wellbeing challenges.
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