By Dennis Clemente
NEW YORK–There are now house calls for dentists, errands and laundry, even beauty makeovers. In the tech concierge space, this is no longer surprising. But here’s the thing: These companies are offering these services to seniors, the market many tech startups are ignoring when it’s a sizeable enough market. More than 44 million Americans are 65 years old and up.
Carla Caramat, CEO and founder of housecallsdentists.com, Zachary Jones, Business Development head of nancy.care and Rachel Doyle, CEO and founder of glamourgals.org presented their respective concierge businesses for seniors last September 29 at the Aging 2.0 meetup at Brookdale Battery Park in lower Manhattan.
Caramat, who has over two decades of success as an entrepreneur in health care management in San Francisco, offers her dentist house calls in New York and San Francisco. How did she figure out if her idea was viable? “About 70 percent of seniors live in Manhattan. On top of that, her target audience is not covered by insurance.”
When you make a dental appointment, Caramat said two people come to your home – the vetted dentist and dental assistant. Yes, the company also does X-rays at your home and works with care managers as well.
Jones, co-founder of Portea Medical, a provider of home healthcare services in India and Malaysia, says the startup was named Nancy, because it’s a popular name among seniors. Nancy is a tech-enabled senior care concierge service that allows family caregivers to remotely care for their loved ones by using a smartphone app. These include home grocery deliveries, laundry, haircuts and errands.
For Jones, the industry is in its nascent stage. He recognizes seniors don’t buy things online, but the daughter does. “It’s a much more involved process than you think.”
Other than family members, who can the seniors trust to take care of them? “We understand it’s the most vulnerable market. We use social proof as our vetting process. It’s similar to how you rate your Uber driver.” He adds that the analytics will bear this out.
Doyle said GlamourGals caters mostly to women: “Women outnumber men 8 to 1,” she said, although she said she wouldn’t mind extending their service to men.
As a young woman, it may hard to figure out why Doyle’s business caters to women two or three times her age, but she has been at it for more than a decade.
Doyle said she was inspired to give beauty makeovers when she was a teen back in 1999. Today, she organizes teen volunteers to provide ongoing companionship and give beauty makeover to women in senior homes. “We’re building a movement of compassionate leaders.”
How do they market to seniors who mostly don’t care about forming habits around using apps, the internet or technology?
Caramat said she markets to them by releasing quarterly newsletters and doing SEO. For his part, Jones said they reach out to the daughters of their target market while Doyle relies on press coverage, which is not surprising given that her startup offers complimentary beauty makeovers – a story that gets media covering it. “When you have a great story, you can utilize the press.”
“You have to have confidence in marketing to people twice or three times your age,” she added.
Allison Becker hosted the meetup with Lauren Covello of FORTUNE Venture as moderator.