Columbia Business School

How a Wall-Street Executive Turned a Life-Changing Accident Into an Opportunity to Help Those in Need

Presented by Columbia Business School

Tragedy to Triumph

On November 26, 2011, then Wall Street executive and avid cyclist Ron Gold ’91 was in the final three miles of a 50-mile bike ride when he was hit head-on by an SUV.


After several weeks in a medically-induced coma, Ron awoke to learn that the accident had permanently damaged his spine, leaving him a paraplegic.

Ron spent the next five months in the hospital and rehab, but the challenges continued when he finally returned home. “The hospital set us up with a health care agency that provided caregivers and nurses covered by our insurance,” Ron recalls, but “after six weeks, despite the need for a lifetime of help, the benefits ran out.” Through this experience, Ron came to two startling realizations that nearly five million people in need of home healthcare in the US face: first, home care is often not covered by insurance, and second, home care agencies are prohibitively expensive (averaging around $25 per hour) and offer limited choices for providers, and sometimes even poor care.


These setbacks inspired Ron to dedicate his career to providing a better solution for those in need. “LeanOnWe provides a selective network of carefully vetted caregivers who are hired by and work directly for a family. No middleman, lower costs, and easy management,” says Ron.  Additionally, “all families speak to staff members who have either trained caregivers, hired caregivers for their family, or received care from a caregiver.”

This model has enabled LeanOnWe to combine higher pay for caregivers and lower cost and more control for families, along with the peace of mind an agency provides. “From where I sit, literally, in my wheelchair, I know that a thoroughly vetted network of experienced caregivers is a welcome option,” says Ron. “The feedback has been tremendous. People couldn’t believe that something designed in this way didn’t already exist. More importantly, families have been thrilled with how easy LeanOnWe makes it for them to directly hire experienced caregivers who fit their needs,” adds Ron. “It is scary to put my heart and wallet on the line for LeanOnWe, but the feedback confirms that I am really onto something.”

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About the Author

The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center at Columbia Business School aims to instill entrepreneurial thinking in all students, and provides the tools and education needed to launch, scale, and invest in startups. Subscribe to the Lang Center’s newsletter, Upload: Lang Center News & Ideas, to receive monthly insights and advice from thought leaders.