Reflections on the Aging2.0 AgeTech Expo

By Steve Moran

Reflections on the Aging2.0 AgeTech Expo . . .

So in some sense, this is skewed by my first encounter with an emerging company, where it took only 10 minutes to make someone mad at me (the whole story below). Here are my quick high level initial impressions from the Aging2.0 AgeTechExpo.

The Cool Stuff

  1. I am a big fan . . . it serves the industry well in at least two respects: 1) It allows the industry to get a feel for how the technology world is perceiving the aging market; and 2) It provides a platform for entrepreneurs to rub shoulders with industry leaders who already know the senior marketplace best and deepn their understanding (more about this below).

  1. Each time I attend tech events like this it is ever clearer that with respect to senior living there are two very distinct buckets of opportunity or perceived opportunity. The first are tools that help senior living providers do a better job. This would include EHR systems, cloud-based staffing and CRMs.  

    The second are resident- and family-facing apps that abound and whose value is debatable (the one exception to this would be emergency call systems). Yet this is the area that seems to get the most attention.

  1. There was one presentation everyone was talking about and I missed it. It was by a 17-year-old high school student who invented a wander prevention device for individuals with dementia. I tracked him down and did an interview that will be published in the coming weeks.

  1. There was a presentation on robots as companions. I have been a skeptic but I am beginning to think these devices may have some real value.

  1. The last panel of the day was a group of seniors talking about technology in their lives. It was remarkable, but not in a way I could have ever imagined. That panel will be the subject of it’s own article.

The Sobering Stuff

  1. I had conversations with two different entrepreneurs who started out focusing on the senior living face and have discovered there are bigger opportunities outside our sector. We can be a good fit for software products but not so much for hardware based products. What seems to be happening is that there is a sense that the market is bigger than it actually is.  

  1. There are still a lot of youngish inventors who think a good idea (in their own mind) is enough. Two stories:

    1. I picked up my badge and started working my way through the vendor exhibits. I stopped at a table, asked the individual standing there what it was that they did, got a pretty good explanation, and then asked what their revenue model was. I was quoted a price, but couldn’t quite figure out if it was a one-time price or some sort of recurring pricing. I kept probing and the responses were more about the product and it was really frustrating.  

      I persevered and finally what I thought was a product price turned out to be a monthly price ($150 per month or more per resident). If I was smart, I would have said, “Thanks for the info and walked away.” I am not that smart, so I suggested that it was unlikely they would find many senior living providers who would be willing to pay that.  

      She proceeded to tell me how they had researched what they were doing and that it was a great value. It was clear she was quite certain I had no idea what I was talking about . . . and my sense was it was partly because what she saw was some old bald guy who couldn’t possibly know anything.

      At that point I wished her well and went on my way.   

      In case she reads this, I will put $1,000 on the line that unless they drop their price to less than ⅓ of the the lowest price she quoted me, THEY WILL NOT MAKE IT!

    2. As I wandered the trade show I was surprised at how often, I would walk up to a table and have a very difficult time getting anyone to engage with me. I can’t help but think it was because I am an old bald guy who was dressed more casually than I usually do, which wiped out my credibility. I found myself wondering if I am not the victim of ageism . . . in the middle of an event where that should never happen.

It was a great event and, if invited, I will be back next year.