Consumers in their twenties to early fifties are usually considered the most attractive age demographic because of their spending power. Unfortunately, this means that older people are often underserved by companies even though they make up more than 16 percent of the world’s population.
Aging2.0 wants to change that. In September, the organization will travel to 30 cities in 30 days to find startups that cater to the elderly. Based in San Francisco, Aging2.0 supports tech entrepreneurs that serve the needs of older adults. It currently has local chapters in almost 20 cities and runs an accelerator program called Aging2.0 Academy to connect promising companies with institutional investors.
Called #30in30in30, next month’s tour was organized with Google For Entrepreneurs and kicks off on September 8. It consists of startup pitch events in 14 countries (Australia, Belgium, the U.S., China, Germany, Peru, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Taiwan, Israel, and Canada). Finalists will exhibit at Aging 2.0’s AgeTech Expo in San Francisco this November and be prioritized when Aging2.0 Academy’s next batch is selected.
Aging2.0 co-founder Stephen Johnston was a senior manager of business development at Nokia before founding a healthcare innovation consulting company. One of his clients was an affluent family whose patriarch suffered from a rare form of dementia. Despite their wealth, they struggled to get the right kind of care, which inspired Johnston to launch Aging2.0.
“They started a personal research consortium to help find a cure. Along the way, we realized they didn’t have the services or products to help them find caretakers and to help their father,” says Johnston. “The market is missing an opportunity.”
While consumer startups tend to seek users in their teens to early forties (or even younger), tech companies that specialize in services for seniors are finally getting attention. Johnston says in that in the U.S. alone, over $50 million in venture funding has gone into caregiving startups, like Honor and HomeHero, over the last two months.
Other areas with lots of potential for innovation include wearable health and safety trackers, devices that make it easy for seniors to keep in touch with relatives, social networking sites like Stitch, and smart home devices, which help people with limited mobility live independently.
Even Pepper, the humanoid robot developed by Japanese tech giant SoftBank, was designed to provide care and companionship for seniors, who make up over a fifth of the country’s population.
Along with gerontologist Katy Fike, Aging2.0’s co-founder, Johnston wants to create a global ecosystem to support innovation in senior care and services. Aging2.0 currently works with Generator Ventures and Formation Capital and plans to build its network of investors to provide promising startups with capital so they can bring their products to market.
“The prize in many ways is to keep people living independently in a community and healthy and happy,” he says.