The gray revolution: Fundraising within the older adult space

This group of people has been overlooked and underserved by our industry, and it doesn’t have to be that way; older adults are too important to be left behind by technology.
Lawrence Kosick Contributor Lawrence Kosick is the co-founder of GetSetUp, the largest online learning community designed specifically for older adults.

The technology industry is often thought of as being the domain of the young and the new. We see an emphasis on young founders (“40 Under 40”), innovative ideas and disruptive challenges to legacy brands, incumbent companies and “old” ways of thinking.

But one of the things I’ve learned on my journey in co-founding my latest startup is that technology should be enabling and accessible to all, and nowhere is this more critical than for empowering our older adults.

Older adults are one of the most underrepresented audiences for new technology products and platforms. There is a massive opportunity to provide products and services that will make life better for today’s seniors and future generations of older adults to come. Founders in every space, from edtech to healthcare, from financial services to robotics, can make a bigger impact if we recognize the opportunity of being of service to older adults.

One of the best strategies for tech companies that want to serve the older adult market is to focus your value proposition on empowering older adults.

Don’t make a product “for old people”

Older adults often get overlooked by tech companies. In fairness, it can be hard (and insensitive and uninspiring) to market products and services as being “for old people,” because people in this group don’t tend to think of themselves as “old.”

One of the best strategies for tech companies that want to serve the older adult market is to focus your value proposition on empowering older adults. Don’t make a product “for old people” — make a product that helps older adults lead a healthier, more active, more connected life.

Whether it’s the education tech space, financial services, health tech, consumer products or other innovative digital services for seniors, tech companies have big opportunities to empower older adults.

We are seeing some great examples, including:

  • AgeBold is doing interesting work with at-home exercise programs for older adults to improve their balance, strength and mobility. The value proposition: Exercise for better aging. It’s a product “for” older adults, but the message is focused on empowerment and building strength, helping people live healthier, more active lives as they age.
  • connects children with vetted older adult mentors, for one-on-one or group conversations and remote learning activities. This concept is powerful because it helps older adults share their life experience and build relationships with other families.

Older adults have so much to offer. Instead of approaching this market as a “problem” to be solved, startups should engage with older adults as an active, curious, ready-to-learn group of people who are eager to be empowered.

Recognize the size of the opportunity of the older adult market

It often seems like so many consumer-facing apps today are created for younger people. But there’s a big disconnect between where so much of the tech industry’s attention and investment is going and the spending power and lifestyle preferences of today’s older adults.

Older adults are the most underserved demographic for the tech world. They’re also one of the fastest-growing age cohorts. The number of people worldwide who are 65 and older is expected to grow from 524 million in 2010 to 1.5 billion in 2050.

The “silver economy,” driven by the spending power of older adults, is expected to grow into the 2030s because the senior population is the wealthiest age group and their numbers are growing 3.2% per year (compared with 0.8% for the overall population).

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