Including use of technology.
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STOP, LOOK, LISTEN before your senior-focused prototype drawing dries
Entering a tech market to help seniors. You want to help seniors -- you have a personal story about your grandmother. You are trying to decide whether your product for older adults warrants your time and devotion. This is not an easy decision, as you watch every thingamabob, it seems, launch into the market of tech for young folks either in website (Pinterist?) or gadget form (LunaTik Nano Watchband?). You wonder what you’re doing in the senior space; you’re not sure, but this seems NOT to be a gadget market. If someone were to ask you why that is the case, can you answer?
Learn about competitors, failures and channels of distribution. I am taken aback when inventors-to-be do not know what other tech is already in their space. Blinded by prior success in other markets or by the brilliance of their idea, they don’t know who else makes a product even remotely similar. Are those vendors out of business now or did they take their product from a senior focus to young consumers because they couldn’t get the sales in the senior market that investors expected? Is the founding CEO still around or have the investors run out of patience? Has the company shrunk into a fraction of its size? How are they doing today and finally, who funded them? If this inventor sounds like you, can you answer?
Find knowledgeable funding sources. How do those funders of other products feel about their investment? Do you go to events that feature these products to learn who else may have succeeded or who are the right funders? A startup founder told me recently of attempting to explain to an angel investor (who are mostly men, somewhat ironically) about a new product already prototyped and intended to help seniors. This particular investor knew nothing whatsoever about that market. So the inventor must be ready to explain why it is important – how big is it, the rate of adoption, the money to be made (by you, by investor)? Can you answer?
Recognize the difference between a feature and a product. An example: with advancements in GPS and fall detection technologies, it doesn’t take much of a leap (pun intended) to envision a fall detection or GPS product for seniors. This is where engineering can trump market common sense. Will seniors or their children buy these products as described? Is there a willing integrator that works with this product category or are there channels that have experience working with seniors? Before the drawing has left the table, have others tried to produce these devices as products and either failed -- or failed to ship? Is whatever-the-product-is really a feature that is appropriately incorporated into an existing product versus becoming its own NEW product? Can you answer?
If your response to any of the above is 'No, I haven't heard, don't know, can't say, or am not sure' -- then this blog post is for you.