An app that expands the utility of on-demand transportation services and a mobility device, whose prototype emerged from a Ring Pop, were the winning ideas pitched at the kickoff event for the Aging2.0 Global Startup Search last week.
About 100 people gathered at Genworth Financial on April 7, to take part in the preliminary round of Aging2.0’s Global Startup Search Competition. The event featured pitches from nine teams comprising local entrepreneurs and university students from Virginia schools.
Our Richmond chapter of Aging2.0, an international organization with a mission to reshape technology in aging, hosted the very first event in the global competition. The local chapter is “raising the bar,” says the San Francisco-based headquarters team, and has leveraged movement in the community by being housed in the Greater Richmond Age Wave’s Business for Life work group, which includes a diverse network of advocates and leaders.
Work group member Joe Brisby is a mentor with Richmond SCORE, which has connected thousands of businesses with experienced mentors to help them succeed. He described the event as “a first class presentation by all in an open environment. Richmond has set the bar very high.”
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Trish Fitzpatrick, vice president of corporate outreach for Uzurv, pitched the company as a way to connect older adults with transportation network services such as Uber and Lyft through advance reservations. The popular apps do not support advance booking, which Fitzpatrick says leaves the market wide open for their company to fill emerging market demands. Users can develop relationships with drivers, and schedule rides to and from rural areas that might not usually receive service – aspects that Fitzpatrick hopes will appeal to older customers. The company is conducting focus groups in the near future.
Uzurv’s victory earned the company a slot at Aging2.0’s Global Startup Search Competition in San Francisco in October, including some travel funds. They will also be featured on Aging2.com for added exposure. The grand prize for the competition is $2,500.
After each pitch, the audience remained engaged and connected to the entrepreneur via an online voting technology used on their smartphone or tablet. The technology rated startups on quality of idea, quality of pitch and impact on the industry. Handizap, a Richmond startup that aims to invent products to help improve the lives of those living with disabilities, came out on top and was named the People’s Choice. Founder Josh Smith invented the Sixth Digit, a device that allows people with limited hand mobility to better use smart devices. He developed the prototype from a Ring Pop while adjusting to a life-altering spinal injury.
Our panel of judges included Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Tammie Smith, Richmond Memorial Health Foundation CEO and President, Mark Constantine and Dr. James Cotter, a gerontology professor at VCU. Cotter told Richmond Bizsense that Uzurv’s broad appeal set it apart from the other startups. “It is appealing to all older people,” he said.
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Ninety-eight-year-old advocate Guy Kinman remarked on the “wonderful, practical event.” A resident of Brookdale Imperial Plaza, he said the event has since been abuzz among other residents, “So the ideas have legs.”
The Greater Richmond Age Wave thanks Genworth and Richmond Memorial Health Foundation for sponsoring the Aging2.0 Pitch Event, as well as fellow philanthropic partners The Community Foundation, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg and Bon Secours.
To engage in our next Aging 2.0 pitch and expo on September 30, email the team at email@example.com. We are looking for pitchers, participants and sponsors.
Learn more about all 9 startups that pitched in the event program: