Welcome to the second edition of the Silvertech News Roundup, a monthly recap of the latest happenings in the world of technology for older adults. Below you'll find summaries of the latest Silvertech financings, product announcements, and events. My name is Max Zamkow and I'm a coordinator for Aging2.0 New York and a partner at Third Act Ventures, a venture firm that invests specifically in startups working to make life better for older adults and their caregivers.
We had some surprising things happen this month, including a tech founder associated more with youth than age speaking about the opportunities in aging, and a viral facebook post that extolled the virtues of aging in a Holiday Inn over Senior Living. Read on for more and as always if you have a product announcement, funding update, or comment please reach out.
Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian is betting on Silvertech
Already an investor in Voyage, Papa, and True Link Financial, Alexis’s firm Initialized Capital is focusing heavily on Silvertech with it’s recently closed $225mm fund. “This is a massive market to be serving that’s quickly growing, and also now has a kind of tech fluency that we’ve never seen before,” he told Senior Housing News.
Ohanian is seeing opportunity in two types of Silvertech startups, those that are improving and tailoring existing products for seniors, and others that are creating something totally new. He also believes there’s a huge opportunity in the intersection: “I can’t help but feel like there’s going to be some change in the nursing or senior care space itself” he stated, noting that internet age consumers expect a far greater level of transparency and security than the industry currently provides.
There are more Silvertech investors than you thought
Speaking of investors, Keren Etkin, the Gerontechnologist & first employee of ElliQ maker Intuition Robotics, has compiled a list of the major Silvertech investors. In addition to the 3 dedicated funds - Zielger Link-Age, Generator, & my own Third Act Ventures - she points out investments from name-brand VC funds like Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla, and Accel. All-in-all the report lists 22 distinct investment firms and 45 startups that they’ve invested in. This is yet another valuable resource created by Keren who also recently authored a detailed Silvertech market map which you should check out.
Uniguest gets more eyes on them by acquiring Touchtown
Walk into any senior living facility and you’re likely to see activity calendars, lunch menus, and birthday announcements plastered on the walls like billboards in Times Square. With communities converting from paper to digital, companies like K4Connect, which recently raised $12mm from AXA and Intel, have sprung up to serve this market. More established companies have eyed the market as well but have made little progress due to the challenges of adapting to this space. So it comes as no surprise that Uniguest, a provider of digital signage & public-space computers in hotels, has acquired Touchtown.
Uniguest has been attempting to penetrate the senior living market for a while now, so as important as the 1,200 community clients the acquisition brings is the senior living expertise of the Touchtown team. “Enhancing the resident experience is becoming more important in senior living and necessary in order to attract baby boomers. Hospitality and wellness are critical elements to that equation,” said Ted Teele, chief executive officer of Touchtown.
Unite Us raises $35mm Series B to tackle care coordination
More and more attention is being paid to the “social determinants of health” - the most basic human needs at the bottom of Maslov’s hierarchy such as food and shelter. Recognizing that medications and surgeries are only effective when these needs are met, Medicare has begun covering non-medical interventions - a simple idea that’s making the tough task of care coordination even more challenging.
A number of startups have been created in the past few years to ease this burden, Aging2.0 NY recently hosted a panel showcasing a few. Unite Us has been one of the more successful companies in this field and is trying to take the lead with a $35mm investment led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from Town Hall Ventures and Define Ventures.
“The market is just getting started when it comes to comprehensively addressing the social determinants of health,” said Taylor Justice, President of Unite Us. “Providing the infrastructure and methodology that connects organizations across silos, enabling them to work together seamlessly, and proving that patients received services is just the start. There is still a long way to go.”
Agency’s global longevity collective opens in Cambridge
Designed as a gathering place for innovators in aging, Agency has launched a “global longevity collective” in Cambridge, MA. Somewhere between a coworking space and startup accelerator, Agency’s aim is to “commercialize some incredible products and services that help the world’s aging populations and their families and care partners” according to its co-founder Danielle Duplin.
There has been a recent wave of Silvertech accelerator launches: Upward Labs in Hartford, AARP’s Hatchery in DC, and Silver Moonshots, a virtual program. While still nascent, these programs are providing communities of support that are still few and far between in this burgeoning industry. I hope to be able to write about some of their graduating companies in this newsletter soon.
Tombot Kickstarts in just 7 hours with Jenny, an emotional support robo-dog
If you’ve been touched by dementia, whether directly or indirectly, you’ve probably heard of Paro, a robotic seal specially designed to provide comfort to those suffering. You probably also know that Paro has a whopping $6,400 price tag and is a seal instead of a normal household pet due to challenges the maker had replicating the look and movement of cats and dogs.
Enter Tombot which, in collaboration with Jim Henson’s creature shop, has created a realistic emotional support robo-dog that it plans to retail for $500. Using multiple servos and sensors it acts and reacts similarly to the real thing - “Jenny” the prototype is so convincing that multiple passers-by cooed at my screen during a demonstration video call. Their Kickstarter reached its funding goal in the first 7 hours and is nearing triple that before it ends today.
Trusty.Care raises another $1.3mm to help you pick the right Medicare plan
“When somebody hits 65, the first thing they need to do is to sign up for Medicare. This is incredibly arcane and complex, and the financial implications of getting it wrong are enormous. If you don’t sign up for a couple of these different pieces within four months of turning 65, you start to have these penalties. There’s Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, there’s part A, C. It’s Kafkaesque.”
Jo Schneier founded Trusty.Care to solve this. Using AI to analyze past claims data they’re able to accurately predict out-of-pocket costs for the following year on different combinations of Medicare plans. It must be going well, as fresh off closing $800k back in December they’ve raised another $1.3mm from the likes of The Fund, Startup Health, and Esther Dyson.
With over 200k views, this Facebook post sparked a national discussion on the cost of senior care.
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