Longevity Network
  • Dec 07, 2016
  • Service Journalism

Longevity Network Entrepreneurs Share Advice for 50+ Product Designers

Longevity Network Entrepreneurs Share Advice for 50+ Product Designers

Designing for the 50+ marketplace can offer unique challenges for product designers and developers. As people age, not only do their needs change but so do their limitations. We spoke to Longevity Network entrepreneurs to find out their best advice for entrepreneurs looking to break into and be successful with this lucrative and growing market.


As with all start ups, it’s important that you understand the landscape in which you’re working. This is especially important when developing health technologies to service the 50+ audience, as government regulations, such as Medicare, can affect which products will be reimbursed and therefore be accessible to these consumers.

“To truly get at the root of the problem, entrepreneurs must not only understand the regulations and nuances of the landscape they are looking to disrupt, but also respect them and experts already in the field,” says Sally Poblete of Wellthie.

And it’s not just regulation that will determine adoption; it’s functionality and usability, which can only be determined once a product has been developed and put into the field. Ikem Ajaelo of Veridrop says this is what makes field research so crucial.

“It is easy to look at the potential from a population and revenue viewpoint,” says Ajaelo. “But what really matters is if the market will adopt your platform or product. The best way to do that is to market test as many times as you need to.”

Patrick Freuler of Audicus conducts extensive focus group testing on computers with people 50+. The 50+ market interacts with the internet in a different way than you or I. Find out how what your customers behavior is online so that you can reach them directly and effectively,” says Freuler. “Continue to A/B test your web page to optimize it for your target user.”


It’s not only important that you know your audience, but that you get to know them as well since many of the preconceived notions about older Americans may actually be wrong. And while testing might give you analytical insight to your audience, Longevity Network entrepreneurs say nothing beats one-on-one interaction.

Chiara Bell of Careticker advises, “Before you build anything, spend time with your users and customers. And by spend time, I mean go and have coffee with them at home. Talk to them on the phone. Ask them questions about their lives, hopes and dreams. Share your thoughts about what you think the market needs. You will be amazed how wrong you are in your assumptions about what people want and need.”

Erich Jacobs of OnKöl agrees. “Don’t design or build your product from the comfort of a cube. Get it out and field test early and often, listen to your constituents, and be prepared to throw out preconceived notions you and your partners might have,” he says.

This advice is especially important advice for caregiving tools. Sandy Jen of Honor says nothing can replace or replicate on-the-ground experience when it comes to caregiving. “It’s easy to make assumptions and generalize based on data you find but at the end of the day, this industry does not know much about itself,” says Jen. “It’s a fragmented ecosystem that hasn’t benefited from a lot of things the tech sector has taken for granted: analytics, feedback loops, and product design.”

Arthur Bretschneider of Seniorly agrees. “Find ways you can build trust with a small community of caregivers or assisted living providers as quickly as possible,” he says. “This is a hyper local industry and a few early supporters can go a very long way.”


Finally, Longevity Network entrepreneurs say to be patient – though technology moves at a fast pace, healthcare entities and 50+ consumers may take longer to convince.

Randy Farr of Healthspek says, “Have patience. Everything takes time and the 50+ crowd are a deliberate and discriminating bunch who have seen enough in life to be appropriately careful. That’s a good thing.”

Melissa Louie of SeniorHabitat says even though health tech can get caught up in regulatory hurdles, there are solutions. “Since technology adoption is slow in healthcare, it’s important that startups create new technologies that solve an important problem for caregivers. To accomplish this, they have to understand their customers. Also, it’s important that they create solutions that are easy to use and inexpensive to buy.”

And David Weingard of Fit4D says don’t let any of these challenges stop you. “This industry can be slow to engage with innovation because of regulatory and safety concerns. My advice to startups who want to target this market is to offer innovative, performance based pilots to get going.”

So? What are you waiting for?

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