Wednesday, April 8, 2015

If You’re Looking for a New Product or Service Start-up Idea, Give Some Thought to the Needs of Senior Citizens. Here’s Why.

clip_image002This article was written by John Rau, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

To see why this is the case, one needs to start with an examination and evaluation of the latest Census data/information. In this regard, the latest information regarding the population of individuals age 65 years and over in the United States can be found in the 2010 Census results at One also needs to examine related demographic analysis reports such as: “An Aging Nation: The Older Population in United States”, Report No. P25-1140, issued May 2014, “The Older Population: 2010”, Report No. C2010BR-09, issued November 2011, as well as various press releases found at These reports are all available on the Internet. The trends are important here. In this case, selected examples and observations derived from a review of this information are as follows:

· Between 2000 and 2010, the population 65 years and over increased at a faster rate (15.1 percent) than the total U.S. population (9.7 percent).

· The nation’s 65 years and older population is projected to reach 83.7 million in the year 2050, almost double in size from the 2012 estimate of 43.1 million. The baby boomers are largely responsible for this increase in the older population, as they began turning 65 in 2011. By 2050, the surviving baby boomers will be over the age of 85.

· The U.S. is projected to age significantly over the period 2012 to 2060, with 20 percent of its population age 65 and over by 2030 versus 13 percent in 2010.

· By 2032, Americans over age 65 will out-number those under age 15, which means that elders will be short on caregivers—not to mention that they will make up a large amount of the population marketplace.

In the December 2014 issue of the AARP Bulletin, there is an interesting article by Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO in which she states that “Next month (January 2015) Gen Xers ( those individuals born between 1965 and 1984) begin turning 50. Ten thousand people a day are turning 65 and that will continue for the next 16 years”.

The above-cited demographic results suggest that there are most likely many opportunities for start-ups if they were to focus on the needs of the elderly—specifically, there is a significant “customer base” and it is expanding.

To illustrate my point, in the November 17, 2014 issue of Time Magazine is presented an interesting article entitled “Senior Startups-Innovators are targeting a new demographic” by Katy Steinmetz in which she states that “the over 65 crowd is an expanding demographic with plenty of problems for innovators to solve”. In her article, Ms. Steinmetz points out that nearly 90% of those over age 65 say that they want to remain at home as long as possible, and many companies are trying to make it easier, or more pleasant, for them to live on their own. Examples cited in the article include a social network that connects older people, a smart watch that includes features such as pill reminders, and a sensor-based monitoring system placed on pillboxes and the refrigerator that family members can remotely use to assess activities within the senior households. As she points out in her article, “one reason that tech companies have been slow to target older consumers’ needs is that entrepreneurs are often young and tend to solve problems they know first hand”. This further suggests that the needs of senior citizens could very well be an “under-served” start-up opportunity.

Other suggested needs of this “customer set” can be found in Maureen McFadden’s April 2, 2010 article entitled “New technology could help senior citizens maintain their independence longer “ (see: and are as follows:

· New technology to help them maintain their independence longer

· Anything that can help a person stay in their own familiar surroundings is well worth it

· Products to insure security and safety, including fall prevention

· Products to eliminate medication errors

To help start-up entrepreneurs and inventors with commercialization of ideas for meeting the needs of the senior population, Edison Nation Medical, a business component of Edison Nation that produces the “Everyday Edisons” TV series, is searching for innovative product ideas to improve the health and wellness of the senior population through its Innovation Search Program (see: with “the objective of the Innovative Search being to uncover ideas for products, devices, technologies or apps that improve the quality of life and the ability to maintain independence for Seniors.” Promising ideas will be presented to leading medical device manufacturers and healthcare retailers with whom Edison Nation Medical has partnered with the end goal being to commercialize each qualified product idea. In this regard, Edison Nation Medical states that, in the context of this innovation search, senior health and wellness products cover a broad spectrum of product categories, including (but not limited to):

· Products that assist with daily living activities

· Health monitors

· Medication management systems

· Products that improve safety and mobility

· Senior-friendly portable products and devices

This product search is open to the public and innovators as well as small


In summary, demographic analysis of the U.S. senior population shows that we have the “ideal new product and service opportunity situation”, namely, a customer base that is rapidly expanding with many needs and problems to be solved. Start-ups and inventors couldn’t ask for a more perfect situation. Go for it!