Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) have and will continue to reshape the population—we should be reshaping business to meet their changing needs as they age.
We are completely under-investing in and under-serving older adults in this country and around the world—and it’s wild because the opportunities for great social benefit while building large, sustainable businesses are massive. The question is, why?
We all know that the over-65 population is rapidly growing. Today, there are approximately 46 million people aged 65-and-over living in the United States. That population is projected to more than double to 98 million by 2060. The market is exploding and so is the opportunity.
You don’t have to look 40 years ahead to capitalize on those opportunities.
But there’s very little innovation for that population happening now.
Why isn’t new business and innovation booming for aging Baby Boomers? Two simple problems—that are easy to fix.
Venture investors need businesses to grow quickly, and tech makes it happen. Unfortunately, most people think that technology and the 65+ population don’t mix. That’s just not true. Think of the automobile, telephone, ATM, and microwave—these are just a few examples of new technologies that were rapidly and widely accepted because they fulfilled a real need—making people’s lives better every day. We’ve got to change how we think about our older population and their willingness and desire to adopt new technology. If technology doesn’t feel like technology, but rather a much needed service, that’s better for everyone—regardless of age. The technology needs to disappear into the background.
The second issue is that most entrepreneurs are in their twenties, thirties, or forties, decades away from 65. They’re not seeing this enormous business opportunity because they haven’t lived it yet. Usually, people build to solve their own problems. They’re looking at their own lives and ways to innovate, then developing new products and services for themselves and their friends.
Men and women over 65 have very unique needs and desires.
It’s also important to know for what segment of this market you’re building. It’s too broad to say, “I’m building a product for older people.” People in their late sixties have different needs from people in their seventies or eighties. And each one of those population segments is looking for its own products, its own solutions. There’s no substitute for spending time with your customers.
We started Honor, an online marketplace for home care workers and clients because we saw a clear and urgent need: much better care for people who want to stay in their homes as they age—often called aging in place. But there are so many more things that older adults will need as they age, everything from fun social activities—because wellness is all about staying active—to better safety and security innovations and even new education opportunities.
There is real venture capital available for entrepreneurs who have a good idea and solid business plan. I hope that Honor’s presence has helped open up this category. And I sincerely hope that we’ll continue to see new and innovative product built for our collective audience.
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