Atlanta’s startup community is known for turning out fintech and SaaS success stories. But the next startup to become a household name could be in the Age Tech space, thanks to a growing number of innovators and investors in town.
If you haven’t run into the term just yet, you aren’t alone. But as a $2 trillion potential market, it is worth taking note of the tech sector designed to help older adults and caregivers.
“The term “AgeTech” itself didn’t exist until a few years ago, so we’re somewhere around the bottom of the second inning,” said Max Zamkow of Third Act Ventures. “Prior to the pandemic it had been slowly gaining momentum, but the increased awareness and needs that COVID-19 brought essentially strapped on a jetpack. With more and more startups and investors entering the space and regulatory barriers being removed, there’s still plenty of fuel in the tank.”
Atlanta’s innovators are certainly helping to create the fuel.
Just look at Age Tech Atlanta, an organization bringing together entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, and investors. The organization was founded by Jeffrey Gray, an entrepreneur in his own right focused on aging-in-place solutions. In just over a year, Age Tech Atlanta has grown to over 30 tech startups dedicated to redefining the experience of aging.
Why you should care
The reality is that people are living and working longer and staying in their homes longer. They are also seeking a higher quality of life in their later years and expect their homes – and their cities – to be accessible.
At the same time, more younger adults are taking on caregiving full or part-time. That is changing the work-life dynamics of millions of people each and every day.
That creates unique challenges for innovators to address.
“I have been in the aging arena for quite some time and one of the most important lessons for me is that the best AgeTech really is “technology for humans.” Thoughtful, user-centered design is starting to be applied more and more to the longevity arena and I couldn’t be happier about that. Each of us is aging every day – if we are lucky – so we are solving problems for both our current and our future selves,” said Atlanta-based entrepreneur Elizabeth Clubb .
What makes AgeTech interesting in Atlanta?
Hypepotamus chatted with some of the Age Tech Atlanta leadership recently to learn why Age Tech in Atlanta is gaining steam.
What stood out was just how interdisciplinary the movement is. Startups focused on healthcare, fintech, cybersecurity, medtech, proptech, future of work, and digital connectivity are all part of the evolving industry.
That is exactly what makes local companies in the space potentially interesting to investors, says founder Paige Wilson.
“It should be hard to find a more investable sector right now if you consider what investors look for. They look for opportunities in large markets that have real problems to be solved. Then they look for solutions that are scalable. I doubt anyone at this conference questions the plethora of problems or the size of the market. So the only remaining consideration is, are there scalable solutions in this sector? Enter the AgeTech innovators! They (we) are harnessing technology to develop scalable, investment-worthy solutions to the limitless problems in this vast and growing sector,” Wilson told Hypepotamus.
“We are at the tip of the iceberg of the Aging-in-Place industry, and the Atlanta AgeTech community is progressively trailblazing a path for solutions to have an impact in the community,” added Ali Ahmadi, CEO of TCARE Inc.
Who should you know in town
Happy Talks – Founder: Christian Ross
Combating loneliness is a huge topic in the AgeTech space, as founders look for innovative ways to keep older adults connected and supported.
Happy Talks, founded by Christian Ross, is designed to tackle loneliness one phone call at a time. Families and caregivers that need help providing consistent emotional support to older loved ones can use Happy Talks to connect those loved ones with “Buddies” for phone conversations.
“Remembrance is a huge theme,” Ross said. Most calls center around telling life stories or sharing memories.
“I will say, when in season, Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor are also frequent conversation themes!” Ross added.
To date, most of Happy Talks customers are in Georgia and Maryland.
As an early-stage founder, Ross has a lot on her plate. On top of building Happy Talks, she is also a Broker in Atlanta’s booming real estate scene and co-host of the popular Atlanta Startup Village pitch competition.
But hearing the difference Happy Talks is making in the lives of older adults keeps her going.
“It truly is a privilege. Our society has an obsession with youth. In the upcoming years an additional reward will be seeing the language and perceptions around age and aging shift,” she told Hypepotamus.
Ome – Founder: Akshita Iyer
She started by building a smart stove knob to prevent kitchen fires – something that costs over $1 billion in damages a year. But as the company grew, she saw an opportunity to “reinvent the kitchen to make it truly intelligent and connected.”
While there is a lot of focus on home security technology and voice-operated home devices, kitchen devices don’t currently “collect feedback and flag any inconsistency in cooking activities that could help proactively mitigate risk,” Iyer added.
Alongside its kitchen hardware, Ome has built out a software suite for family members and caregivers to monitor kitchen use. That provides “a level of objective reporting, quantitative data, and insight for the early detection of cognitive impairments,” according to Iyer.
As Ome has grown, its customer base has gone on to include the the senior living facility market and the “sandwich generation,” a group of adults who are caring for an aging parent and a younger child.
While Iyer started building the startup in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, she moved Ome’s headquarters to Atlanta last year to be closer to many of her early investors and to connect with the growing AgeTech community.
MyFloc – Founder: Elizabeth Clubb
Like many people, Elizabeth Clubb found herself taking on more of a caregiving role with her aging father about ten years ago. While she knew her father had a good support system of friends, neighbors, and professional caregivers, Clubb started to stress about the financial side of things.
“What wasn’t so great was the money part,” she said. “When my father was no longer able to run his own errands, for example, his solution was to give his checkbook or debit card to someone else to use. It was extremely stressful for me and for him. As time went on, he was living in fear of becoming a victim of fraud or financial exploitation. Our situation was not unique and going through that experience made me realize that this is an enormous problem that touches so many lives.”
That’s why Clubb founded myFloc, an Atlanta-based fintech and expense management platform designed specifically for older adults.
From its home in ATDC, myFloc looks to prevent fraud and financial exploitation, which some estimates leads to losses upwards of $114 billion a year. But the platform also looks to help the financial wellbeing of caregivers, a traditionally overlooked group.
“By 2030, there will be approximately 70 million adults over the age of 65 and right now there are 53 million family caregivers, according to AARP. 92% of those people are also financial caregivers. Financial caregiving is complicated as there have not been good tools to address the reality of how people help one another. I lived that experience with my father and there are so many others in the same situation,” she added.
Are you building in AgeTech?
If you are interested in diving into the local Age Tech scene, be sure to check out Age Tech Atlanta’s website for upcoming Meetups.
Tickets are also on sale for the On Aging conference in Downtown Atlanta this March. Startups ready for investment are invited to apply to the inaugural Age Tech Challenge Innovation Showcase, which will take place during the conference.
Applications for the $10,000 pitch competition are now open to companies across the country ready to travel to Atlanta.