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Former Student Launches Caregiving Service

Amy Laine '95 August 24, 2022 3:16 PM updated: September 2, 2022 2:49 PM

Amy Blakely Laine '95
Amy Blakely Laine '95

Armed with a psychology degree from the College Station campus, advanced degrees in technology commercialization and gerontology from other Texas-based universities, and a licensed nursing home administrator, Amy walks as many others do - as a ‘Granddaughter’ caring for neighbors, friends and family.  This is the inspiration for SandwYch and was borne of her own life’s experiences.  During her early college years, Laine assisted her parents with caregiving duties for her grandparents while her parents managed their careers and helped Amy and her sister navigate their high school and college years.

Laine’s parents were original members of what is now known as the “Sandwich Generation,” an unchartered territory of being “sandwiched” in the middle taking care of parents and raising a family while being in the prime of one’s career. 

Laine’s digital native service provides valuable resources and insight on its website, and on social media, she shares daily words of encouragement and quick tips to a growing online community of caretakers. Laine offers subscriber-based self-paced and group-based video lessons designed to equip families with the knowledge necessary to make informed choices and have tough conversations with courage.

Laine remains connected to the Aggie Spirit as a past board member and current member of Aggie Women. She is active in The Association of Former Students along with her husband and fellow Aggie, Dale Laine ‘78.   

What motivated you to launch SandwYch?

Prior to graduating I thought I wanted to own nursing homes; a lot of them. However, after pursing a Masters degree in Gerontology and then Technology Commercialization I enjoyed the process of creating and building opportunities more. As an entrepreneur, each endeavor has been a building block in launching SandwYch. The work feeds my interest in social family dynamics and nurtures my enthusiasm for technology and healthcare. Our work, while difficult, is perfectly placed in the emerging longevity economy.

When did you discover your entrepreneurial streak and how do you maintain it, especially during times of uncertainty?

The pursuit of striking it out on my own and creating opportunities has always been an element of who I am. We launched Venture Alliance Group shortly after graduate school and many of the same clients are still with us today. Over time, the people behind the organizations have become like family.

Working with colleagues that are creative in developing solutions keep the entrepreneurial streak alive. Some of my greatest accomplishments are designing sustainable programs that are nimble enough to evolve with change.

In times of uncertainty leaning into mentors and advisors is the secret sauce in navigating unchartered issues. Some of my advisors might not even know the role they serve, but I can always count on them to shoot it straight. In startup world and beyond I invest in relationships with colleagues in the same space too. Allies provide tremendous value.

Describe what Venture Alliance does/did and how was it/is it successful?

Venture Alliance Group provides association management services for trade and non-profit organizations (501c6 and 501c3). Venture AG started in 2004 in Austin, Texas and focuses on education and healthcare industry associations. Our success is contributed to the people that represent Venture Alliance Group every day serving clients.

In your own words, what is a” Gerontechnologist?” 

A gerontechnologist leverages technology to help older adults age in place. Tools can seamlessly integrate in daily life or support a chronic condition.

What is SandwYch and what does it do?

From carpool to caregiver, SandwYch helps families age in place. 90% of Americans want to stay in their home as they get older. To age in place successfully, families need to communicate a lot more than ‘the will is in the filing cabinet’ or ‘I have enough money.’

*With employers—we support employees jugging work and informal caregiving with evidence-based solutions. 

*With social workers and pharmacists—we support families after you leave the hospital or the clinic.

*With licensed therapists and mediators—we discuss the hard conversations in a safe space.

*With lawyers and doctors—we are an extension of your office support.

*With friends and family—we are a subscription model to support those you love.

What role have mentors played in your success?

Mentors have come into my life for a long time and others just a season. I’ve been deliberate in asking for mentorship and in other situations, it has happened naturally. I currently have a mentor that is about the same age, give or take a few years, but our experiences are so different that I value her perspective.

How did your A&M experience influence your career and how is it informing your entrepreneurial exploits?

As an undergrad, I was meeting with a Dr. Steven Smith and through the research I did with him, I continued graduate studies in gerontology at the University of North Texas in Denton. Which led to experiences with AARP and World Health Organization. 

The undergraduate experience at A&M provides many opportunities for leadership outside of your discipline. Serving as a Fish Camp and Howdy Camp counselor for several years as an undergrad was a nice foundation for developing an entrepreneurial spirit.

As a Fish Camp and Howdy Camp counselor, the community you build is similar to pre-seed startup mode. The culture you develop early on will nurture you through the volatility of start-up world. You find the people that test your strength to evolve.

How do you remain connected to A&M?

My husband (Dale Laine, ’78) and I attend all the home games in College Station where we reconnect with friends and classmates. Dale and I have fallen in love with Texas A&M Galveston and the work Mike Fossum and leadership is doing for the students dedicated to the Maritime Academy. Previously, I served on the Aggie Women Network board and remain active with fellow Aggies in Austin behind the “orange curtain.”

Learn more about SandwYch here:

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