Tech conferences and pitch competitions typically feature apps and hardware made for millennials, who make up the largest generation. But the design of these products usually fails to meet the needs of an even larger total population: Boomers and seniors.
On Thursday, venture capitalists flocked to a conference and pitch competition called the Boomer Venture Summit in Berkeley, California, to see technologies built to serve this aging population.
The pitch competition is one of the few that matter to institutional investors. And no wonder, given that people over 50 make up 35 percent of the population and represent 53 percent of all consumer spending, which amounts to more than $5 trillion in the U.S. every year, according to the AARP.
"The number of applications we received from start-ups more than doubled over the past year," according to one of the event's co-producers, Michael Skaff, a CIO with the Jewish Senior Living Group. "That's an indication that people are waking up to the needs and size of this market here in the states and in China, which has a massive Boomer population, too."
The summit has spawned some companies that have had both financial success and societal impact, such as PetPlan, a pet insurance provider that does more than $100 million a year in revenue, and PuraCath, a medical device that reduces infections that result from kidney dialysis.
This year, a startup called BaroStitch won the $10,000 cash prize for early-stage startups. The company has developed a medical device that can help heal arteries after heart surgeries that are common among seniors. BaroStitch was founded at Stanford's Biodesign department by Chirag Chauhan, Katie Blevins, Eric Kramer and Vivian de Ruijter.
Other finalists included Quikiks, makers of "hands-free" shoes, and Geneticure, a company that helps physicians find effective treatments for their patients' medical issues based on a patient's genetics.