In the last few years we are seeing a growing interest in Entrepreneurially creating new products and services for seniors.

It perhaps started with the fax machine or maybe the Sony Walkman or maybe, even before that, the pocket calculator.  But for most of us we have lived through wave after wave of technology revolutions. I can remember during my high school years my mom bought my father a Panasonic calculator that did the four basic math functions plus square roots.  She paid close to $400 for it (think $2,000 to $3,000 in today’s dollars).  We played with it for hours so impressed by how magical it was. Today, calculators that do much more are used as trade show giveaways. Through most of my life new technology has been invented with teens and middle age adults being the target market but this is changing.  In the last few years we are seeing a growing interest in entrepreneurially creating new products and services for seniors.  While it would be hard to argue that anyone has come-up with the killer technology thing for seniors, there is no shortage of people and companies working on finding that next thing.

Finding and Funding the Next Big Thing for Seniors

A few weeks ago leading senior living investment banker Ziegler and Link•Age Ventures announced the launch of the Ziegler Link•Age Longevity Fund.  After spending a couple of weeks negotiating calendar dates (mostly my fault) I got a chance to chat with John Hopper, the chief investment officer for the fund.  Here is what he had to say about the industry and the fund:

  • The reason for the fund is that, with the aging population and a continuously changing healthcare marketplace, there is a great deal of uncertainty.  While uncertainty means unpredictable risks it also represents great opportunity for new products and services.
  • This fund has a little over $26 million to invest.  It is a closed fund, meaning that they are not taking new investors.
  • There are a total of 90 limited partners which includes 70 not-for-profit senior living providers.  These partners are particularly committed to finding and funding new ventures that will improve the lives of the seniors they serve.  These providers can be great early customers and pilot sites where products and services can be fine-tuned.
  • I asked John what kinds of companies they are looking for:

o   Companies that have a finished product or service, meaning they are not a seed capital fund.

o   Companies that have some revenue.  This does not mean they need to be profitable, but they do need to be able to demonstrate they have a saleable product.

o   Company that have already done some fundraising.  It could be in the form of friends and family or a seed fund.

  • Their ideal investment size is half a million to 2.5 million dollars but for the right opportunity could go up to 5 million dollars.
  • As with any private equity fund like this, part of the investment equation is to explore the exit strategy for their investments.  John’s response was that of course the big win would be an IPO but other exits might include recapitalization by a larger fund or sale to a larger company in a related business.

Who Cares

Finally I asked John why my readers, senior living providers and operators, should care.  His response was that paying attention to what the fund invests in provides a great opportunity to explore new technologies and services that could benefit their residents. You can see the press release about the fund here To learn more or submit your new venture for possible funding you can visit the Ziegler Link•Age Longevity Fund website.

My Reader Questions

Do you care? Are you interested? If you had a chance to do a pilot for a new venture would you be willing? Steve Moran

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