AARP, T. Rowe Price, QED kick off community to target $8.3T 50-plus market

Technology aimed at older people, whether it be healthcare, fintech or entertainment, is not new, but a new community of startups, investors and global industry leaders are shining a light on what they say is an $8.3 trillion opportunity.

AgeTech Collaborative from AARP is bringing together organizations, like T. Rowe Price, Walgreens, Cooley and QED Investors, to scale startup products and tools and get them in front of AARP’s 38 million members.

The collaborative kicked off with 50 participating startups, including Voiceitt, Rendever, Trust & Will and Mighty Health. Companies have the benefit of six testbeds to trial their products and will be able to bounce ideas off more than 10 investors and venture capitalists, top companies with a stake in the 50-plus community and service providers.

Andy Miller, AARP senior vice president of innovation and product development, told TechCrunch that while the spending power of those over 50 is already $8.3 trillion, that is expected to triple in 30 years.

Miller said the idea stemmed from AARP Innovation Labs, an accelerator he leads, which was attracting some 30 companies, but was not able to provide access to AARP’s membership. Instead, the organization began thinking of ways to give startups a path to scale, which included finding pilot opportunities and partnering with companies willing to test out products.

AARP was also getting calls from venture capital firms eager to get the organization’s take on a startup targeting the 50-plus market, as well as other accelerator programs.

“We felt there was this enormous need to bring together this ecosystem,” Miller said. “Within this demographic, 10,000 people turn 65 every day, and the oldest millennials are 10 years from turning 50. There is a financial incentive, but ours is socially good by allowing people to age better. We can leverage the power of AARP, the ultimate connector where we have a unique vantage point, with VC, corporate and startups. If anyone should win the age stack, it should be AARP. We want everyone to be successful.”

Other organizations are also playing into the age tech space, looking for the next best innovations, including Aging 2.0, while startups continue to bring in funding for various products and services. For example, Bold raised $7 million earlier this year for its senior-focused fitness programs.

Meanwhile, prior to the global pandemic, technology for older folks was a nice to have, but now is “an absolute necessity to live your best life,” he added. From having to scan QR codes to access a restaurant menu to telemedicine appointments with doctors, it required older people to be more comfortable with technology.

In addition to those two areas, Miller sees innovations in categories like voice, which is what Voiceitt is working on with technology to decipher grunts and sounds that translate into turning on lights, and fintech with products like intergenerational financial planning.

Fintech is also one of the areas that Nigel Morris, managing partner of QED Investors, has been keeping his eye on.

There is a need to understand retirement options and figure out whether they will pass money to their children and that people are no longer retiring at 60 and going off to the beach, but would rather take advantage of the gig economy, he said.

QED invests in four age tech companies, including Freewill, software for managed giving, and True Link, which helps caregivers manage finances.

“Companies are thinking of this problem, and this is the time,” Morris added. “This population is not classically cool and is overlooked because many investors don’t understand the population. There is so much opportunity and AARP putting this together is great. Being a founding member is a feather in our cap.”