Why Primetime Partners is betting on the “ageless” population

Age tech isn’t for elderly people only. It’s for anyone who wants quality of life as they age. That’s where Primetime Partners comes in.

The venture capital firm was started in 2020 by Abby Levy, who was founding president of Thrive with Arianna Huffington, and Alan Patricof, founder of Greycroft Partners. For Primetime Partners, “age tech” can touch almost every sector of what Patricof calls the “ageless population:” health tech, fintech, consumer tech, prop tech and many more.

Primetime now has 23 portfolio companies, including: Rocket Dollar, which helps people save more quickly for retirement with alternative asset investing; HCG Secure, an insurtech that provides products for home care; Aidaly, which helps family caregivers find financial reimbursements; Yes Hearing, a concierge-style service for hearing aids; and Kindra, a direct-to-consumer startup for menopause-related products.

Primetime also conducts its own research about the senior demographic, dispelling many myths along the way. For example, there is a perception that older adults are less online or willing to spend money than their younger counterparts.

But according to Primetime’s data, there are 50 million seniors in the United States, and they are the fastest-growing population segment, increasing at three to six times the rate of the rest of the country. From now until 2030, 10,000 to 12,000 people are retiring daily — and they are spending money online. Among those retirees, 75% are likely to make a purchase online and 44% rank the internet as their top preferred source of health information.

The impact of COVID-19

Primetime was launched and getting ready to fundraise just as COVID lockdowns hit the United States. “Alan and I were on the phone in April 2020, saying should we just pause on this until there is a better landscape?” Levy said. “I really credit Alan with saying that now is actually the best time to be moving forward and, in fact, we made four investments while concurrently fundraising because we saw so much opportunity in this space.”

Fundraising also moved rapidly. The majority of Primetime’s inaugural $50 million fund ($30 million) was raised in about a month and it closed three months later.

COVID also increased interest in age tech by entrepreneurs, Levy added.

“COVID dramatically changed that because every person in our country somehow became a caretaker for someone who was older or became aware of what it is to age in our country or in general,” she said, adding “Entrepreneurs and founders, frankly, all have personal stories now, personal pain points, somehow related to aging that were really accelerated or emphasized during COVID.”

Primetime’s portfolio

Levy said Primetime looks for “companies that tackle big issues, like the issue of social isolation among seniors, retirement and financial security and businesses tackling the fact that there are very few products on the shelves that address menopause, which 50% of the population will experience, including 50 million women over the age of 50 in the U.S. alone.”

For example, Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, the founder and CEO of Kindra, told TechCrunch in an email that the company also wants to “destigmatize menopause and dispel the taboo, so women feel informed, comfortable and empowered throughout their menopause journey.”

Primetime has also invested in a number of fintech companies, including ones that deal with liquidity, financial planning and retirement. Those are issues that are relevant to any adult, regardless of age. For example, someone in their 30s or 40s might not only need to plan for their own retirement, but also help their parents or other relatives.

Rocket Dollar CEO Henry Yoshida told TechCrunch that its average users are in their mid-to-late 40s up to their 70s, making a mix of people who are planning to retire and those who have already retired.

Levy highlights the gender and age diversity of founders in Primetime’s portfolio. “I think many of these issues are top of mind for women who are caregivers. In our portfolio, 10 of the 23 founders are women, but I want to emphasize that the CEOs are women. It’s not just a founding member on a founding team, 10 of the 23 companies have a female CEO.”

The fund is also working hard to attract older founders who are 50 plus. “As you can imagine, that’s quite challenging because there are a lot of reasons why people in their 50s and 60s who want to take on the intensity, pressure and stress of going through founding a startup,” Levy said. “I wish we had more, but we have four businesses that are founded and led by CEOs age 50 plus and we would love more, absolutely.”

Limited partners, customers and collaboration

Primetime works closely with portfolio companies on developing marketing and distribution strategies. Its portfolio is split evenly between enterprise and DTC businesses, with some overlap.

Levy said when she co-founded Primetime, her assumption was there were only three types of enterprise customers: health plans or payors; senior living resident operators; and the government. But “as we’ve progressed, the industry has continued to diversify,” she said. “Additional enterprise customers are all the hospital systems, then all of the risk-bearing entities, like an Oak Street or a Landmark, and employers that have also come up as a different customer base.”

Employers have also become an important customer base. For example, one of Primetime’s employer-focused portfolio companies is called Empathy, which helps them offer bereavement leave.

Several of Primetime’s investments focus on the “sandwich generation,” or people who are taking care of both children and aging parents or other relatives.

“Family caregiving is a very big topic in our country, especially with 50 million unpaid, untrained family caregivers who on average spend $7,000 out of pocket helping their loved ones every year,” Levy said. “We have about four businesses that are in and around family caregiving because we believe it’s a tremendous opportunity to serve this audience, and they’re a real resource and asset for everybody.”

Primetime’s limited partners include three nursing home operators and two hospital systems, who also help the fund do due diligence.

“What’s interesting is that because of our horizontal or cross-cutting expertise, we have become very friendly with other venture funds that are vertically oriented, that are digital health or healthcare services or fintech, etc.” said Levy.

“We’ve actually been brought into many deals because of the collaborative nature of other funds saying ‘hey, you guys are experts in this population, why don’t you come in? And if you know anything about venture capital, especially in today’s competitive environment, it’s very unusual to have that kind of invite.”