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Scores of tech entrepreneurs are already moving into this growing market. I have heard many of them talk about developing “the next TaskRabbit,” a reference to the hugely successful handyperson app that has become popular with seniors. To do that, the successful app of the future has to be senior-oriented and genuinely useful for customers 55 and over.
I’m the CEO and founder of an online senior living marketplace in the United States, and I’m third generation in this industry. Here are a handful of things I’ve learned about this market that I hope can inspire or guide your senior startup idea.
Remember, there isn’t one senior market. There are two.
Seniors in the United States are not a monolithic bloc of customers. I call the market I am focused on “Gen B.” This consists of baby boomers born in the late-1950s to the mid-1960s. Careful, though. This rapidly growing senior demographic has a dual persona.
Persona One is “the caregiver.” This Gen B is caring for an aging adult and therefore does not have time for unbundled technology. The app that can consolidate services and support will win. Services they are looking for include everything from housing to bill pay to medical care support. The more all-inclusive the product, the easier you are making the life of this Gen B persona.
What’s the trick to understanding them? You have to imagine they are in the shoes of the aging loved one they are caring for. That is how this persona is using the technology. Thinking as a senior, they are seeking tech that provides one or a combination of the following:
• A high quality of senior care
• The best possible quality of life, at home or in a senior living community
• Community, ideally with other seniors around the same age
• Engagement and meaning in senior activities
Persona Two of Gen B is “the self.” In my experience, despite their advancing years, this group will never think of themselves as “seniors.” In fact, they often adopt the same technology as millennials. Whether they are caring for an aging adult or not, they usually still have jobs and live a very active life. Therefore, the technology they seek appeals to their individual interests.
In this case, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. So, what should you focus on when creating tech that addresses their aging process?
• Urban and city life, as opposed to rural or country living
• Healthy aging, be it from diet choices, yoga or other lifestyle options
• Independence of action
• Aging gracefully, but not necessarily “staying young”
So, what are the key takeaways to act on?
1. Don’t build a new TaskRabbit. Gen B is already using it and, from my experience, they will continue to use it.
2. Create technology for one segment of Gen B that consolidates or bundles helpful life tools, like finding housing, paying bills, arranging medical care and more.
3. Create technology for the other segment of Gen B that personalizes their aging experience. Appeal to their desire to remain active and engaged.
4. Gen B loves to share. Make sure your product is easily shareable or offers features that promote sharing.
Because there is no single Gen B consumer profile, these takeaways are a bit fluid. Just remember one key takeaway when building tech for this market: They want things to be fully taken care of for the people they are caring for, but when it comes to their own needs, they want choice.Founder/CEO of Seniorly, a leading senior living marketplace. He is a 3rd generation senior living executive with an MBA from Berkeley-Haas.
March 11, 2019 at 08:43AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs