Every generation has a place online to pursue their passion. Yet, somehow everyone missed the 55+ generation which is over one-third of the world’s population.
GetSetUp is on a mission to help over-55s learn new skills, connect with others and unlock new life experiences. This social learning platform helps over four million older adults in 160 countries stay mentally and physically fit, creates economic opportunities through jobs and reskilling, and provides a community where people find meaning and purpose by sharing their knowledge and passions and forming new connections. Classes are taught by older adults on a highly interactive, custom-built video platform where older adults can easily connect during and in between classes. What started as a simple dream to find a space for one co-founder’s parents to hang out has become a global phenomenon.
Now the platform offers a unique space filled with thousands of classes on a wide range of learning areas and skill development: technology, well-being, community building, creative classes, finances, fitness, languages, and a whole lot more.
Three passionate founders make up the GetSetUp team, all are adamant about improving the lives of older adults. The initial idea started with Co-Founder and CEO, Neil Dsouza, who realized that as his parents were aging they still had a strong desire to learn and stay active! His dad taught himself Quickbooks to help startups and non-profits with their accounting and Neil was inspired to see him learning independently. He turned to his friend, and long-time running buddy, President and Co-Founder, Lawrence Kosick for support. Lawrence was entering his 50s and both he and Neil had a number of friends this age. None of them felt “old” but they lacked places that celebrated the wisdom and skills that came with maturity.
As a child, Lawrence’s father founded a non-profit assisted living facility for older adults. Amazed by the wisdom of the residents who had so much more to give, Lawrence was thrilled to team up with his long-time friend and co-founder Neil, to create a learning platform for older adults that allows him to continue the work his father started so many years ago.
Together the duo and their team created the GetSetUp platform as a space and community where their parents and friends could learn, create, and give back to society through shared knowledge and acquired skills, in a fun and interactive virtual environment with peers.
Since both had worked extensively in the tech industry they knew the importance of technology. Navigating technology is no longer a nice-to-have skill, but a requirement. It is now a necessity for everything from receiving health care, banking, communicating, and most importantly, staying connected. Neil and Lawrence knew that they couldn’t help people age better in the virtual space without first addressing some of the needs of older adults to bridge the digital divide. The GetSetUp platform thinks of older adults’ needs first, to help them enjoy all the benefits of technology and digital assets.
Every part of the GetSetUp experience is designed to meet its audiences’ needs, from the technology to the instructors and the fellow learners, who are all over-50. The first classes went live merely weeks before the global pandemic and the company quickly pivoted by listening to what learners wanted to learn and how they wanted to learn online. The catalog expanded from a couple of classes to over 2,000. One of Neil and Lawrence’s initial angel investors, Deval Delivala, was so passionate about the project that she joined as a third Co-Founder to lead international growth and head development in India, Australia, and other countries.
Challenges In Uncharted Territory
There are many challenges when addressing this market – it is mostly uncharted territory. Historically older people have been overlooked by companies, especially tech companies. That meant that there was no company that had created a playbook or best practices to follow. So, GetSetUp’s team set out to navigate these waters via trial and error. With each trial, successes were expanded and elaborated on and errors were an opportunity to learn and pivot quickly. By regularly testing new ideas, GetSetUp has been nimble and continues to make ongoing adjustments to better serve its learners.
Reaching the learners is a whole additional challenge. There is no known tried and proven practice for marketing to this age group. Let’s be honest no one appreciates products “for old people,” because this audience of people doesn’t tend to think of themselves as “old.” Most of the marketing to this age group had focused on highlighting age instead of the product or service’s value proposition. Rather than focusing solely on an inability, problem, or age range, GetSetUp highlights its value proposition: empowering older adults.
GetSetUp isn’t “for old people,” it’s a tool that helps older adults lead a healthier, more active, more connected life. It gives them the opportunity to create, share, and thrive in a global community of like-minded peers.
Older adults are the most underserved demographic, yet one of the fastest-growing consumer markets. Globally those 65 and older are expected to grow from 524 million in 2010 to 1.5 billion in 2050. The “Silver Economy,” driven by the spending power of older adults, is expected to grow into the 2030s, since the senior population is the wealthiest age group and their numbers are increasing.
Older adults today have different expectations than previous generations for how they age. Most of them are living much longer than past generations. Most of today’s older adults have more money than Millennials. They are determined to live active, meaningful lives that are rich in experiences. There is a big market of older people, of all income levels, waiting for services customized to them.
Companies have big opportunities to empower older adults. Older adults have so much to offer and are an active, curious, ready-to-learn group of consumers, eager to be empowered. Plus this cohort has the spending power and lifestyle that often allows them time to explore new things. Like your next product or service!
Words of Wisdom For Your Next Business Venture
GetSetUp’s early success, according to Neil, was due to building an easy-to-use platform for an underserved market, and good timing. During the pandemic, older adults became more open than ever before to new technology and new ways to connect, and GetSetUp was there.
Neil thinks the very initial step to any great idea is hearing people’s stories, what motivates them, and what they struggle with. Then find the systems around you that are ineffective in addressing those struggles. Next, brainstorm innovative ideas to solve these issues and inefficiencies.
Once you have a great idea make sure you incorporate a couple of key insights into your product or service.
- Create a sense of mission. If you have a strong sense of mission and identifiable partnerships, new business opportunities can open up from there. For example, at GetSetUp, we are on a mission to empower older adults and create opportunities for peer-to-peer learning. And because of that mission, we’ve been able to find great partners who are passionate about the same mission.
- Listen to your market. If you want to customize a product for the older adult market, it’s crucial to listen to them! Products that are made for and by younger people might not always translate to an older audience. But if you have a team ready to listen to the concerns and feedback of your older adult users, you’ll be ready to identify and solve the problems. At GetSetUp, we don’t just serve older adults, we employ older adults. We hire older adult “Guides” who lead online classes on our platform and having older adults on our team has been essential.
- Solve a meaningful and impactful problem. If you solve a meaningful problem and provide enough value then there will be a buyer. Finding the product-market fit gives you the focus to address a real problem in a scalable way. The aging space needs more start-ups that have this discipline and can solve real problems with real business models.
So when you go looking for your next business model, think outside the box. Talk to others around you, perhaps your next solution isn’t a problem you have yet, but one you might face as you age.