Business

AARP Launches New Collaborative to Spur Tech Solutions for 50-Plus Market

The pandemic showed how much technology could keep people connected even when they couldn’t be together. Hoping to keep that momentum, AARP launched the AgeTech Collaborative to create new technology for those 50 and older.

Technology allowed many activities to continue despite restrictions on face-to-face activity during the pandemic. Inspired by how much technology helped people 50 plus and realizing the potential it could have to make lives better, AARP recently launched the AgeTech Collaborative.

“Technology focused on the 50+ [age group] isn’t necessarily a brand-new category, but COVID has accelerated the need and turned what was once a nice-to-have into an everyday necessity,” said Sasha Spellman, AARP startup collaboration director. “We realized that there is this immediate need to really help accelerate the curation and scale of AgeTech products, services, and experiences.”

The AgeTech Collaborative was designed to help innovation flourish in the sector. The platform has three goals: to discover innovative AgeTech solutions, to connect the AgeTech community, and to grow the impact of leaders in the field.

“Since we’re one of the leading organizations for social change, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our resources, our brain power, and convening power to create this ecosystem that is going to support the process of bringing these AgeTech solutions to market,” Spellman said.

The Collaborative includes startups, venture capitalists, and industry veterans. To help startups learn more about the process and ensure they’re ready to be included, AARP has an 8-week accelerator program they can apply to participate in. “They help these early-stage companies refine their solutions and figure out ways to really speak to the 50-plus audience,” Spellman said. Startups that complete the accelerator successfully are admitted to the Collaborative.

While the Collaborative has many resources for AgeTech creators, it also has materials member consumers would find useful.

“We have things like a resource library that acts as a knowledge base,” Spellman said. “We have external-facing articles on areas that are of interest to our community: social-isolation-related issues and FinTech—financial-wellness-related tech—is a growing issue.”

Advice for Others

Spellman, who previously worked on a similar program at another association, shared tips for other groups looking to work on innovative projects for their industry or profession.

“The number-one thing for an out-of-the-box idea like this is to leverage the brainpower of other team members you might have or other departments across your association,” she said. “I’m blessed to be working with a really smart and a really creative team.”

After that, it’s important to get feedback from your community. “Talk to your members to identify what their overall pain points might be, so whatever you’re creating will address what their ultimate needs are,” she said. “Also look at whatever trends and categories might be top of mind for them.”

Finally, be open to change based on member and team feedback. “When I started working on this concept back in November 2020, the idea completely shifted from what I originally thought it was going to be,” she said. “We’ve gone through multiple rounds of iteration and changes on this. It’s important to be open to that and see where it goes.”

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Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a senior editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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