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How much do VCs matter for startups in the older adults segments?

It is a given -- startups want to hear from venture capital panel pundits.  Hindsight being 20-20, those who help make venture capital investments clearly have panel potential. You are a startup and what you want most to hear is why VCs invest and why they seem alternately enamored with consumer-oriented tech or enterprise/health tech.  In fact, you could puzzle a bit over the way newly-generated terminology overtakes ideas that did not do well with VCs or anyone else. For example, what happened to the 2001 prediction of the rise-fall-rise of eHealth?  

What does a VC see as appropriate to fund in health? Let’s just pick through one example, Kleiner Perkins investments, one of the most famous -- and just bypass their biotech and enterprise health tech picks. What they have funded that could help the 'older' person within the older adult market? Let’s consider their health investments as displayed on the KPCB website – what do you see? Highly specific choices, not so much targeting older adults, as potentially useful if that person has specific health diagnoses:  Livongo – Diabetes ManagementMango Health – Medication ManagementApniCure – Sleep ApneaBreathe Technologies – Cystic FibrosisElcelyx – Type 2 DiabetesEssence Healthcare – Medicare Advantage Plan (St. Louis); and Inspire – Sleep Apnea. Perhaps a startup can align their story with a targeted pitch into these potentially crowded spaces.  

The trend report from Kleiner Perkins is quite informative about VC's lens.  The Mary Meeker report of Internet Trends at 213 pages (!!) is less about predicting the future than it is about acknowledging the present as KPCB see it. The document considers demographics ("Millennials matter most” p. 51-52); what type of devices are consumers purchasing globally – and an almost-grudging acknowledgement of what’s new and significant that KPCB may not have funded. The report highlights voice on page 114 and acknowledges Amazon Echo’s 4 million units on page 131. Okay, okay, voice matters, Meeker admits, especially in China, see page 115. And check out the chart on page 107, Popularity of Business Contact Channels by Age.  You’re correct if you guessed that boomers (64%) and seniors aged 70+ prefer to do business on the telephone, though not ever-more-rampant robocalls. Who knew that 81% of the population mutes ads or that 93% of the tech-using population has or is considering ad-blocking software?

How important is VC investment – depends on who you ask.  Acccording to a Stanford Business School analysis, in today's economy VCs have become a 'dominant force' in the financing of innovative companies. This began, they note, with "a regulatory change in 1979 that permitted pension funds to invest in VC funds."  Okay, but do VCs really matter? Now switch coasts and perspectives, note how a Harvard Business School report picked through six myths about VCs, pretty much debunking the rhetoric in the Stanford report. Most VC funds, especially larger ones, do not outperform the market. "VC financing is the exception, not the norm, for startups" and given the rise of crowd funding and a broad range of angel investors, "VCs will continue to play a significant, but most likely smaller, role in channeling capital to disruptive start-ups." The question to ponder:  which category of investor, and specifically which investor groups, are interested in the older boomer and senior markets?

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Appotek is another one great medicine app startup.


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