Highlights from this week’s conversation include:
Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit abundantagingpodcast.com.
Michael Hughes 00:00
Hi everybody, and welcome to the Art of Aging, which is part of the Abundant Aging Podcast Series from United Church Homes. On this show, we look at what it means to age in America and other places around the world with positive and empowering conversations that challenge, encourage and inspire all to age with abundance, as part of our aging and Innovation Series. Very pleased to welcome Andy Miller to the show today. And he’s a senior vice president of AARP innovation labs, which is an entity that I’ll tell you has just grown and grown in terms of the impact it’s having, and fostering new and important solutions in the aging and health care space. And Andy, you are certainly no stranger to innovation. You’ve got a track record that includes being the patient leader, Constant Contact, you founded the Small Business Innovation loft, you founded and sold a number of companies and oh, by the way, you’ve held roles and Innovation at financial players like T Rowe Price Bank of America, who, and we’re so pleased to have you on the show today. Welcome, Andy. Well, thanks.
Andy Miller 01:06
I’m glad to be here, Michael.
Michael Hughes 01:08
For listeners that are listening to this at time of release, Just a friendly reminder that our Ruth Frost-Parker Center for Abundant Aging is holding its annual symposium in October of this year. I believe October 6 through Friday theme is ending ageism and attending live in Columbus or attending virtually at a very terrific price. So just visit UnitedChurchhomes.org/parker-center. Alrighty, so Andy, just to start things off, describe AARP as innovation labs to me . What are the jobs that you and your staff do?
Andy Miller 01:44
Yeah, so AARP Innovation Labs has been around for about seven years now. It’s changed over time. And we started out trying to build their own products, we’re building our own startups. Now we really focus on working with startups, we realize that we are far better equipped to find the best startups we can in the world that are focused on the issues we care about most. And we bring them in, we run pitch events to find them all over the country, we will then bring them into an accelerator program, which I think we’re going to talk about in a little bit. When we run these accelerator programs four times a year, we help them validate what they’re doing. We help them refine it. And then we want to ultimately help them grow or scale their business.
Michael Hughes 02:27
That’s awesome. And I got to thinking of incubator programs accelerator programs, it seems like every big company has one, you know, we see them. I don’t think not so much of an age check. And we’ll unpack that in a second. But you know, what you’re doing at AARP just seems a little bit different from other traditional accelerator or incubator programs, right? What were you seeing out there with other programs of that type that you thought you could do better at? or you’re looking to correct?
Andy Miller 02:55
Yeah, so when we started this, we actually partnered with one of those who partnered with a company called mass challenge. It’s the largest non equity accelerator in the world. And they were launching a new program called mass challenge pulse. Today, it’s called Health Tech, in the intent was to find startups and pair them with companies to try and get a little bit further down the path. So it wasn’t just a mentee model. And so we were a founding member. And this was back I think, in 2000, maybe 1819. And we worked with, like, 30 companies over the years through MassChallenge, health tech. And it was really beneficial for us to learn how to work with startups, to learn what they really need. We see companies or other accelerators like TechStars, or Y Combinator, and there’s dozens, as you mentioned, and I’m not knocking any of them. They’re all they’re all great programs. But they’re all very different. Right, TechStars and Y Combinator, which are probably the two most well known. They’re basically venture capital firms at the end of the day. They’re finding companies, they’re investing in them, and then off they go. Right? In, we decided that wasn’t really what we wanted to do. We were trying to find companies that we could actually help, we can roll our sleeves up and put our money where our mouth is, if you will, a lot of these different programs, incubators and accelerators rely heavily on the mentor model, which is they find a bunch of guys like me and you, and they have us come in and talk to startups and give their two cents and advice. And while that may be helpful, what we’ve heard from startups time and time again, is you and I may show up and give them completely different pieces of advice on the same topic. So what do they do? Who do they listen to? How are they going to actually move forward? And so our program is 100% percent and bespoke, right. So when we bring startups in, they are given a portfolio manager from my team and they build a custom agenda just for them even though they may be in a cohort of 15 or 16 companies. Each company is getting there. our own unique sort of programmatic way that we’re going to go through the next eight weeks with them, when they join the cohort, we give them resources that they don’t get in other places, right. So they may get access to mentors, sure, they get access to subject matter experts from AARP, which is highly valuable. And then we give them access to things like GLG, right, which is a service where you get industry experts that will come talk to you. We have access to feedback loops and other things where they can test and iterate really quickly. And we do all of this, we pay for it, we give them the resource, we almost become an extension of their team for eight weeks. And there’s a byproduct of that. We also have started to invest in these companies. We don’t make any investment decisions till after they graduate from the cohort. So it gives us eight weeks of working with the founders working with their platform, their service, their offering their product, to understand, is it real? Is it providing real value to the users? Is it solving a real problem? Can the founders actually tackle this problem, produce something and grow it? That’s far more insight than almost any investor would have before making an investment decision? And so not only are we helping them, we’re helping ourselves,
Michael Hughes 06:15
I gotta say here, and even, you know, most of the models, I’ve seen the models, I’ve seen an incubator and accelerator programs are, you come in, we’re gonna take a piece of your company, you know, whatever percent on the cap table, it’s gonna be, and it’s almost like, let’s just whatever happens, you know, we’ll get a bunch of guys, we’ll make these beds, we’ll throw them out there, we’ll kind of put these kind of just a little scattershot, right? I mean, this seems a lot more focused, a lot more curated.
Andy Miller 06:39
I mean, what you’re describing is really the textures. YC model, right, which is, you know, we’re going to TechStars I think made over 500 investments last year, throughout all of their programs. And you know, it’s very programmatic. You come in, we’re going to write your $100,000 check, we’re going to take roughly 5% of your company, we’re going to reserve the right to write another $100,000 Check. And you’re going to come through our program for two or three months. And then those two or three months, basically, what we’re going to do is teach you how to pitch for more money. Right along the way, we may get you a dealer to help validate what you’re doing, so you can get more money. Right. But that’s primarily what all the accelerators do, you’re seeing more and more, what I’ll call corporate foundries popping up, which is a little bit different. Right, corporate foundries are a big company and say we want to basically outsource r&d, we don’t necessarily want to go play with a big accelerator, we just want to do it ourselves. So they may hire a company, there’s a lot of them out there, generator ventures, hire alpha, like there’s a bunch of these companies that will come up and spin up sort of product development functions that they will help sell. So if you have something you really want to solve for, as a big corporation, you don’t have the research to know how to create a startup, this foundry concept, someone else would go and take your ideas, run with them, and build something and then for the back to you.
Michael Hughes 07:57
So I want to build a better mousetrap. I have an idea. But the mousetrap is you hire an outside company, you say, Okay, let’s stand up. Like, it’s not a hackathon. It’s not whatever, it’s basically, you know, throwing out a net and finding out who is working on that issue from a startup point of view, and then inviting them to come in and maybe fostering them that way. So I can run a specific challenge on specific shots. Interesting corporate finds. Just back to back to the H decK collaborative, though, if you’ve already gone through one of these programs, does that kind of restrict you from participating in as an H tech company?
Andy Miller 08:35
No, it doesn’t. In fact, we’ve actually cut some deals with our friends at MassChallenge and TechStars. But we have a number, I’m probably close to half of our startups that come through our program have been through another accelerator. It’s interesting, because the validation we get on our model, when we do our surveying at the end, you know, Net Promoter Score, kind of saying, our net promoter score is far north of 90. And we’ve been doing this now for five years, four cohorts a year. So at first, I thought maybe there was a halo effect, but now the model is being validated every single cohort. And it’s because of the custom agenda. It’s because of the resources we give them and how we’re actually helping them validate, refine and grow.
Michael Hughes 09:18
Yeah, and it just seems natural for AARP given his position in the aging space to have something like this and also just seems to be a very altruistic you know, it’s if a nonprofit was going to do it to do this model, they would do it this way. But I noticed it also has a lot to do with your vision, what you’re seeking to kind of correct it’s out there, but just switching just to the topic of aging health and all that. I just it’s almost like it’s the Rodney Dangerfield of the VC and investment world you know, ah check gets no respect. I know that as long as I’ve been in this space, it seems like it’s getting some momentum. You know, the world’s aging and people are the problem of our long term care crisis is starting to become. I’m a little bit more real now. But at the same time, you know, I can’t. I don’t have a sense of comparison of where each check is in terms of its momentum of investment compared to other things. I mean, where do you think a check is right now you think it’s still Rodney Dangerfield? You think it’s coming out of the shadows a little bit?
Andy Miller 10:17
I definitely think it’s coming out of its shadow. Specifically, we’re seeing more and more venture funds start H tech funds, right? We’re seeing established VCs starting H tech funds, we’re seeing brand new venture funds formed around H tech. I think what’s happened is all the research around what I’ll call the longevity economy, right? Where like, where the money is, where the demographics are going. Once you think about a Silicon Valley VC, they tended to focus on fun technology, mobile tech, different things like that, that were focused on 18 to 35 year old males. Well, that’s great. And they are very early adopters. And some of AARP’s research has helped in this. But we’ve been able to show the myth that old people don’t use tech. Not true. In fact, 50 to six year olds are the single largest group using early adopters, the biggest spend of disposable income on new tech, it’s not the 18 to 35 year old. So you’re seeing as the population shifts, the money is shifting. And so a lot of these companies, what do they do chasing money, right? At the end of the day, they’re trying to make products that they can grow that scale that business and then exit that business. And so they tend to go where there’s a big population, there’s a big addressable market, there’s about $2. So they’re starting to kind of understand what that is. Now, the second piece of the longevity economy is that tech piece, as I just mentioned, it’s a myth that all people don’t use tech, right? COVID was actually a great accelerant for this. For the older population. Right? They had to use tech, maybe they were using tech to look at Facebook, pictures of the grandkids, maybe they were using FaceTime, but they still had to go to the doctor. So they started using telehealth, they still had to pay their bills, they started using online banking, and the list goes on and on. And so they became much more comfortable with the technology. And therefore they adopt, they’re adopting more and more.
Michael Hughes 12:16
Yeah, and you know, what’s, you know, what just occurred to me is that, you know, in some of those cases, you’re right, there is a trope out there. I mean, I’m not seeing it. When I’m looking at the residents of our properties. I mean, I think the people that are moving into independent living now retired 15 years ago, what was around 15 years ago, you know, the Internet was around, you know, smartphones were around, social media was around. So these are not unfamiliar things. I think it’s, and I think there’s sort of an element of maybe us learning together, right? You know, there’s a huge problem during COVID, we all had to learn about telehealth, we all had to learn about zoom, we all had to do this. So it was almost, you know, I don’t know what sort of an element what sort of what that did to accelerating tech adoption amongst older people. But I would suggest that for all of us tech, adoption, increase? Yeah,
Andy Miller 13:04
absolutely did. And I think the only thing that really matters here is not just the demographic, but the geographical dispersion of the demographic. So when I was younger, my entire extended family lived within 20 minutes of each other, like I could drive to my aunt’s, my grandparents, anyone’s house, right, that we all lived right near each other. And what’s happened is, families have moved. And you know, my parents live in Sarasota, my sister lives in Northern Virginia, I live in Boston, well, how do we still stay not just engaged, right? We want to make sure that we’re socially engaged with one another. But how is my parents’ age in particular? How do I make sure that they’re getting the tech that’s going to help them? It’s getting you know, whether it’s ambient monitoring, or whether it’s fall prevention, whatever it is, and I want to make sure that they have that as well. I’m extremely technologically sophisticated. So I’m going to make buying decisions from my parents. And you’re seeing that happen over and over where the adult children who are very sophisticated, are trying to help their parents adopt certain things, because it’s not only helpful for the parents, but it’s helpful for me, right. The other piece I’ll bring up is intergenerational connectivity. Right. So we’re seeing more and more technologies that are really interesting. So not to turn this into an infomercial for any of our companies. But I’m going to use one that I think is fascinating. It’s a company called game board. And what they’ve been able to do is create a digital version of all the games we grew up on. Right? And so my mom can have a digital version of this on her coffee table. I could have one in here with my grandkids and be playing a game in real time with my mom. We could have a family game night on a Friday night. Like that didn’t exist before. And now we’re seeing tech that’s enabling us to do things we did a long time ago, when we all lived right near each other. And we can do that again in this career. getting more and more sense of community amongst families and beyond. So that’s, it’s fascinating to me what the technology is doing.
Michael Hughes 15:07
I mean, that’s, you know that and I just want to just for our listeners, I want to make a point. Pretty clear here. I mean, I consider there’s only really two certainties, market wise and life right now the age wave and climate change, right? There’s a lot of money to be made in the age wave, right? There’s a lot of opportunities here. And it’s just about unpacking those different sorts of themes, or just really kind of getting in finding out what people want as age when we can take into your teen early, earlier point. Technology is not that barrier anymore, you know, the trope of the old person, you know, not being able to use it, that is not what’s happening right now. So you mentioned, you know, you know, intergenerational tech is maybe one thing you’re getting excited about when you think about just the huge market opportunity that there is around eating right now. Where would you be putting your dollars right now? And what do you think it is? Where should people be finding solutions?
Andy Miller 15:59
Yeah. So one thing that I know is happening is, and it doesn’t matter where it takes place. People want to age in a home. Well, right? In, you have this quandary of letting me age well as the person living in that home or that physical space. But it goes beyond me, as I mentioned, you know, it’s the grandparents, parents, it’s the adult children, and they want to have these connections. So what’s getting me excited right now is this concept we’ve been working on with one of the largest electronics companies I can’t quite mention who yet. But this concept of a living lab and a living lab. It’s about aging. Well, you know, people often talk about aging in place. I don’t actually like that, because I think it’s a negative term. Maybe you talk about thriving in place. Right? And what’s key about that, the word thriving and the word place, a place is just lizard, literally a physical place where you’re going to live. Right? So how do we use tech to make sure you’re thriving? And so this idea of a living lab, it could be in an independent living, assisted living, it could be an adu that I dropped in my backyard for my mom to live in, it could be any of these things, right? And so how do we bring together a collection of curated tech? That will make sense, that will be fun. In some cases, you may not even know it exists. And it’s just there to make sure I’m doing okay. Right. So that’s really getting me excited. Because if you look at the world of tech, or startups today, almost every single one of them does something well, but it’s a point solution. In and of itself. You’re like, okay, that’s kind of interesting. And I always use the example of one of our companies called Kisana. Smart toilet seat, right? You sit on it, it takes your not just ways you but it takes vitals it does all this stuff in and of itself. That’s interesting, right? Great. I went to the bathroom at 1005. gather some data. Like, right, like maybe over time, it creates a trend. But if you think about this concept of a living lab, and you have lots of techie at the same time happening in a physical place, I can start to get contextual insight that I didn’t have before. Right, I know what the person was doing right before they went to the bathroom, potentially. Right. So if they were using another company, we own practice, right? It’s sort of like, peloton for yoga. I know they hate when I say that. But it’s sort of like this On Demand interactive exercise. Well, maybe they were doing that right before they went. So the toilet seat registered a high heart rate, without knowing what they did right before that. The data is somewhat useless, right? So really being able to look at all of the data that’s being used to help someone live and thrive in place. And creating contextual insight by aggregating all that data together, is what gets me the most excited.
Michael Hughes 19:03
It’s a term it’s a tremendous data play, Andy, this is what’s going through my mind right now is and this is a speech I’ve given, that people have suffered through in the past, but you know, if I’m somebody that’s newly diagnosed with, let’s say, a chronic disease, right, they’re gonna there’s already databases out there, they’ll kind of size me up, Ah, wait background, all this and they may just sort of find a cohort for me and a bunch of other people that are okay, this medication may work better than others or this treatment, in terms of overall wellness and aging, all the factors that just support wellness and aging, you know, your relationships, how engaged you are, I mean, Bob Kramer had a great line about an engagement index where, you know, I don’t want to go because my hands are shaking, you know, all of the different outs the home state, the traditional social determinants, like food and transport and all that, but a lot of this stuff around behavior and correlating behavior. I mean, that’s a huge opportunity, right?
Andy Miller 20:01
Enormous. And the reality is it’s not been done before, I think for a couple reasons. One, all the startups are too small, right? They’re just chasing their point solution, whatever it is that they’re gonna do and do really well. And then if they, if they’re successful, you’ll see them branch out, right? They become more and more. But the reality is, this is an enormous data play. So there’s privacy issues, there’s infrastructure issues. And there’s to be frank, there’s only probably five companies in the world that are capable of probably pulling something like this off at a ubiquitous sort of societal level. And they’re all now, if you look at all the big companies, right? Whether it’s Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Google, they all have Best Buy, they all have health now. Right? There’s Apple Health. Right? Right. So we’re all not only waking up to the longevity, economy and the opportunities, they’re literally sitting here, but how do we help shape it? Right. And so if you look across those organizations, they each have slightly different approaches to things. But you can imagine Amazon being the ultimate ecommerce engine, being able to know all about you and your date, use your data to make better recommendations on what you should be eating or or buying or whatever. You know, same thing with BestBuy, right? Interesting about someone like a Samsung or Apple, they’re in our lives every day, and we don’t realize it, whether it’s the phones, the TV is the microwave, the whatever it is, we’re using all of their tech all the time. And we probably don’t realize how much we it’s, well, we
Michael Hughes 21:31
see those little songs you know, every time my dryers are done, it plays a song, My dishwashers done it plays a little song, but no, I, I totally get it. I mean, there’s good these are, you know, you, you interact with it more than your facts, right. And
Andy Miller 21:45
so if you stitch all that together, and you layer on top of it, these point solutions that are very precise, they’ve been built to do one thing, one thing really well, so a device that may be doing ambient monitoring, right, and I’m gonna get way too techie for a minute here, you stick it on the wall, and all you see is a box on the wall. But it’s actually creating a radio mesh network that sees if you’re standing, sitting, walking, if you’ve fallen, if you’ve eaten, if you’ve gone to the bathroom, you’re maybe even can track your heart rate like that exists to fade into the background. And you don’t even know what’s there. But to connect that with all this other insight and information is I just get really excited about this opportunity. Yeah,
Michael Hughes 22:25
I can kind of tell but I share your excitement. All right, let’s flip it. Let’s flip it around a little bit. You see a lot of stuff, I see a lot of stuff, some stuff that gets you, you know, puts a light bulb in your head. What is the stuff that basically gives you a snore? Yeah, what is the stuff that you hit the delete button on? We What should people not be developing?
Andy Miller 22:47
So I’m gonna caveat this by saying, I know this is a really important topic that I’m about to snooze on. But I know it is. So false, I understand how important it is. To detect falls, it’s more important to prevent falls than detect falls, I would say, right. And so you know, if I see another wearable fall detection device, there’s a bazillion of them. You know, at the end of the day, all the ones that are tied to watches Apple is going to, you know, Google and Samsung are gonna make you obsolete at some point. I mean, Apple Health is already doing all this stuff in the watch. Oh, yes, it’s super important. But we just see so many of these things. And it’s just okay, I don’t need to see another watch app that is telling me that someone has fallen down. And what’s interesting about that, I was talking to a gentleman the other day, who happens to be the chairman of a big Wall Street firm, and we’ve been trying to talk about their customer base being older, and he wants us to go and talk about all these things. And he was telling me that he golf’s a lot. And when he takes a divot when he’s golfing, his watch thinks he’s fallen down. And he asked me if I knew why that was. And I said, Well, I can’t tell you with 100% certainty, but my guess is it uses the accelerometer. So as you’re coming down on your golf swing, when it gets interrupted by you hitting the ground in, you know, he’s probably not really following through. So he just literally falls, it thinks you fall in it, he said, You know, I probably fall, you know, 20 times during the round of golf because I keep taking divots. And so even the technology that exists is not foolproof. So a combination of technologies is going to be a much better solution than just a single point. So again, come back to this idea of how do I capture contextual insight from many things at the same time?
Michael Hughes 24:46
Yeah, and because that’s what human nature is all about, isn’t it? This is what human nature design is all about. We interact with systems of things. And one thing on its own, if it’s going to fail us in that way, you’re just going to just pop it right in the drawer and forget about it. You know, I mean, how Gotta go AARP did a study 70 how long something on wearables? And essentially, how long did it take to wind up in the drawer? You know, I mean, Apple Watches, I’ll get my granddaughter to use one. It’s great. It’s multifunction, you know, and all that. But you’re right. Any failure of a promise or anything that is an added norm for this thing? And it changes the relationship with with this thing you
Andy Miller 25:20
bought? Right? Absolutely. I mean, Fitbit, you know, I think they created the category, which was great. But I believe the research you’re referencing, which was like eight years ago, shows that in about two weeks, it ends up in the junk drawer for a bunch of reasons, right? We kind of figure out how many steps we take a day, in general, based on our routine. Great, I take about 6000 steps, so I need to do a little bit more, right, or I forget to charge the battery. That becomes the bigger one. So I forgot to charge the battery, so I gotta put it on. It’s not working, I throw it in the drawer, I forget about it. Right. So you know, we need to figure out how you have in the watches probably done this the best Apple Watch, right? Or a Samsung Galaxy watch or something like that has, you know, it can do your steps, but it does a whole bunch of other things too, right? So in pairing with your phone, it just becomes almost like an extension of the phone, quite frankly. You know, I used to be a watch guy like I had, you know, went and got all the watches I collected. I haven’t worn any of those watches in probably five, six years because I only wear my Apple watch because of the utility.
Michael Hughes 26:18
Wow. That’s a great point. Last topic, before we get on to some questions, we always like to sprint on our guests. But let’s talk about founders in the age tech space. That’s you predominantly see health tech, age tech. Everybody wants to create something for a reason, you know whether it’s going to be a new sport strength, whether it be it’s going to be a new, I don’t know, autonomous driving failure, people are driven to found companies and found companies and technology. What do you think, maybe two questions? How do you think founders in the age tech space are different? And what sort of advice do you find yourself giving to founders in the age tech space that might be a little bit different from, I don’t know, traditional?
Andy Miller 27:04
Yeah, I think the interesting thing is, you know, every startup has an origin story, right? And when you think about origin stories, and they use techspace, most of the time, it’s based on personal experience, right? It’s somebody that had a mother or a grandmother or someone that they maybe they were a caregiver for and they were trying to find a solution, they couldn’t find it. So they built it themselves. Right? We see a lot of that. It’s probably the majority of origin stories. And they’re powerful, right? So anytime you’re building from a place of personal experience, it’s interesting, we always talk about and you referenced that earlier, this idea of human centered design, right? They go out and talk to the consumer or talk to the folks. And if you go back 10 or 15 years when the phone was just taking off and mobile apps were everything. Most of the people building mobile apps were young males building for themselves, right, or gamers or whatever, there wasn’t a lot of true utility in so they ran to do it, but they literally were still building for themselves. So that same thing is happening now. I have a personal problem, I can’t find a solution. You see a lot about caregiving, we see a ton here, right? Or even financial services. You know, when you get into the clinical health care stuff, we still see origin stories that are personal, but they tend to be from doctors, or nurses, someone on the front line that’s like, I don’t ever want to see this again. It may not even be personal to a family member. It just may be that I’m done. Like I’m an ER triage nurse, I’m done trying to continuously work on people that have this problem. Let’s solve it. Right. So the origin story is still highly personal, maybe not their family necessarily. So that’s what we see more than I’ve ever seen before. And I’ve been doing this for 20 something years. Even personally, my last company I built because we had just a kind of a cool idea for loyal mobile loyalty cards. It wasn’t for any save the world, big cars, it was just a niche that we saw, there wasn’t anyone filling. We don’t see that we see this as for a purpose. And there’s tremendous passion behind these entrepreneurs. Not to say others don’t have passion because they do, but it’s not the same. Right? So that’s the first piece of this second piece. Because of this, a lot of these entrepreneurs are not experts in the area. Again, they’re solving for a personal need or solution that they’ve had. And on the health tech side, it tends to wait in healthcare. And so we tend to do a lot more coaching in educating on you know, expense reimbursement and understanding you know, all the different as your age right so, there’s the Medicare Medicaid stuff, but there’s stuff you know, we’re talking about already. 550 year olds that aren’t on that, and, and sort of how do you bridge the gap? And talking to somebody? That is, you know, 5050 is the new 40, right? Like, you know, and you talk about a bunch of 75 or 80 year olds that are using tech every day. And so how do you talk to them? How do you SM sort of sell to them? And then how do you do the customer service? This is the other big thing, right? And you and I have both experienced this, many of the people listening are gonna chuckle. We’ve become customer or tech support for our parents or for our grandparents, right? My mom used to call me all the time, how come he’s not printing? I’m hitting the Print button. Okay, well, now I can diagnose, is it turned on? You know, whatever, right. And so there’s a, that’s a real issue is that the more people or the older folks are adopting tech, there’s a need for tech support, right? They help the genius bar, if you will, right? Our Geek Squad kind of gets it’s a very tricky situation, because our research will say that a lot of older folks don’t want strangers in their home coming in to help them set something up or whatever, right? So how do you make sure your tech is designed such that as easily, you know, trouble, you can troubleshoot if you need to write without being in someone’s home? And so all these are the kinds of things that most entrepreneurs don’t think about. But AARP and United Church homes were thinking about this all the time, right? And so we spend a lot of time educating and sort of helping them understand how Yeah, I always like
Michael Hughes 31:35
to say, well, too, yeah, I mean, we I always like to say if your thing runs on a battery, tell me exactly how long it lasts, because I’m going to be the one that’s driving over there, or knocking on a door to change it, which can be good and bad a way to kind of get in there and not. And then, you know, I always get, you know, folks that tell me, I want my solution to do 100 things. So take a look at their competitors, oh, they’ve got this little thing, I have to have this little thing too. And it’s a weird game. When they talk to me. They’ll say, Well, we can do this, this and this, but they don’t really recognize what the two or three things that my team does the most are. And how are they optimizing the experience of using that solution? So that’s really easy, and instinctive and things like that, you know, that’s the difference of human centered design, I can always tell which solutions have been developed in coordination with the users because the UX tends to be a little bit simpler, you know, the tasks are a lot more intuitive. And that’s the sort of thing that we’d like to see. Because in our world, workflow disruptions are, can just sink something so fast, I can’t tell you how many things we found in closets, just because they require a different dashboard, or they do or it just wasn’t even on boarded properly. So all that matters. You asked
Andy Miller 32:49
the question earlier about, you know, technologies that I’m seeing that I’m sleeping on, like they’re just done with them. I will say and I’m not sure how much of the audience here is entrepreneurs, but both to the entrepreneurs and to the corporate folks that may be watching this. The thing that I get most irritated by when a startup shows me their pitch decK, they all have this competitive matrix, it’s usually the four by four graph. And they always show me and they’re, you know, no matter what stage they are, they always shouldn’t be there in the upper right quadrant, no one else is, all their competitors are lower left or wherever, right. Or they show me the car, magazine sort of thing where you have like, you know, the different car makers, and you have like circles, maybe they have this feature, they don’t have this feature. And inevitably, they’ll have every feature, and show me like some, you know, big company, or they don’t have these four, but we have. And that’s very telling, because you’re going to wait a minute, like you’re, you know, a two year old company, and you’re showing me that you have everything built. And you’re comparing yourself to some, you know, Juggernaut in the industry who hasn’t. So one of two things is happening, either you’re wrong, and you actually haven’t built these things. Or maybe the other company that’s been around a long time, has tested a whole bunch of these things and figured out customers actually don’t want all these things that you’ve checked boxes on. And so then my next question will be what research have you done? What, how many customers? Have you talked to me? Right? Because the answer usually is not many. Right? What did they do? Well, here’s what I think when you and I call that building inside out. When you build inside out from what you know, when you think is best you will always fail versus what you and I would call human centered design, which is outside in, right, go figure out what the consumer wants, why? How is it helping them? How are they engaging with it and building from that back?
Michael Hughes 34:46
And if you, if you’ve got that, that line with it, every single box is checked or whatever, and then we ask to see a demo. And then you’re gonna give us screenshots or whatever then Spidey sense is raised as maybe all this stuff isn’t ready for primetime. So
Andy Miller 35:04
yeah, that’s right. And that’s a non-starter, right? When that happens, you know, and the reality is a lot of times, you know, companies coming to you, maybe they only get one bite at the apple, right? And you’re gonna, you know, look at him once. And if they’re, you go through them, oh, show me the demo, and they’re not, there is nothing, then you’re probably not going to look at them again, at least not for a while, right? So that you do yourself a disservice as an entrepreneur by not going in and being like, you know, what we didn’t build for everything. We built this one or two things, and we’re doing it really well.
Michael Hughes 35:34
I would so much appreciate, you know, coming to these six months before and saying, Can I sit down with you and learn a little bit more about what you do? You know, and spend, I mean, we’re trying to get our entrepreneur in residence program together, which is great. come live with us for 234 weeks and see how we operate, but much more ready to give advice and just help foster the creation of something then to be at the, you know, at the sales ends of things and getting a pitch. And you can tell that every single one of my objections is covered by another feature and another feature, you know, yet I can’t see that work in any sort of smooth and intuitive workflow, you know, so that’s now I mean, I’m getting old curmudgeon Linus is probably good. Andy, you’ve given us a lot of your time. Thank you very much for doing this. And on every episode of the show, we do like to ask our guests three questions about aging. That sort of supports our idea of abundant aging. And is it okay, if I ask you that? Absolutely. Okay. Right. So question number one. And when you think about how you’ve aged, what do you think has changed about you or grown with you that you’re really like about yourself?
Andy Miller 36:41
Yeah. This one is really around sort of EQ, the emotional quotient. This is really my personal EQ of time without EQ, in sports, or in a job. We all have our own personal version of that about six years ago. I took one of these Myers Briggs, there’s a whole bunch of them, I take them integer, like all your attributes and how you are and whatever. But I took one that had two different versions of the same question. It was how you are at home, in your personal life and how you are at work, or professional life. And I have for a long time always known that or felt like I wasn’t like something was out of whack and between who I am at home, and how I work. And I chalked it up all over all the years to me being an entrepreneur. Right. And you know, you start a company where I started five companies, and when you’re doing it, you’re working crazy hours, you’re all right. And so I always felt that balance. And so I took this test, and it was said it showed me something that really changed everything for me. Turns out that I’m far more empathetic at work than I am at home with my two children. And I said, well, that’s why I am far more empathetic with a bunch of grown adults at work than I am with my two young children. And so that was the impetus for me to really start this journey that I’ve been on now for probably five or six years, or maybe even seven years now, which is trying to discover the spiritual side of me and understanding why am I acting a certain way in different situations. And so I’ve been on that journey now for a while. And it’s been a fascinating journey in a lot of ways I think about aging. And what does this mean to me, as I’m learning about myself, I’m able to let go, I have this totally different perspective, as I think about my parents, or I think about my children, or my siblings, or my partner, like, it’s a very different world that I live in. Now, I often call up my world, because of the spiritual aspect of everything that I’ve gone through. That’s totally changed my perspective on aging.
Michael Hughes 39:01
And isn’t it interesting? Isn’t it interesting to use that sort of woowoo term? Because, you know, we talk I mean, you know, it’s we’re all here United Church homes were churches in our name, but I mean, as an open and informing organization, values, te and I, very closely, I mean, one of the things I’ve learned is really how personal and abstract, you know, spirituality can be for you. I mean, it can be structured, it could be unstructured, we could be talking about Catholicism, it could be talking about yoga. But this idea of spiritual health, I think is, I think, a green field, quite frankly, we we talk about managed care programs, and things that aim to, to wellness in aging, you know, because people you ask different questions as as as you age as my co host, Reverend Bob says, So, really, absolutely. Terrific. Okay, question number two. What has surprised you the most as you’ve aged?
Andy Miller 39:59
Yeah, my willingness to embrace change, I think has been the, you know, again, I’ll go back to on the, on the worksite. As an entrepreneur, it may sound weird that I’m, like, changed. I thrive in this gray space, I can do really well with ambiguity. In my personal life that was really hard. Like, I didn’t like the ambiguity, right? And so it’s really, I’m surprised that I’ve been able to really thrive and learn to thrive in the gray gray area, right, and that lives with ambiguity and rolls with it. Cuz I never as a younger kid, I know, I was not like that I was super type a hard charging, you know, in Yeah. So I’m completely done with AV there. Well, I
Michael Hughes 40:43
I mean, you’re Yeah, it’s I guess that speaks to the value of experience and the fact that you sort of all these different times, you’ve taken it and taken a risk. And, you know, in the startup world now, you know, you’re right. It’s sort of an interesting evolution. Okay. All right. Question number three. Is there someone that you’ve met, or been in your life that has set a good example for you, and Aging’s? Someone that inspires you to, as we say here, age abundantly? Yeah. So,
Andy Miller 41:11
uh, yeah, my, my partner, she’s been amazing and teaching me how to not only embrace change and aging, but dealing with a lot of different health issues, right? Not me personally. But family and extended family, in the level of kindness and generosity that she has, in the middle of all of this is amazing and extremely inspirational to me to try and emulate because I think about a lot of times, you know, her mom has dementia. And she’s young, her mom is, you know, you know, that’s actually 6566. And you’re watching things, you know, deteriorate, and it’s a tough thing to do, right. But, you know, my partner is able to have like this tremendous outlook, even though it’s a bad situation, and always helpful and kind and generous, and all of these things that I kind of think about, how would I respond in that situation, right, I have some similar issues on my side of the family, and I’ve always been more to snap and jump and be like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna solution or right, so I’m going to fix it, I’m going to solve it, I’m going to, in that’s not necessarily productive for anyone. So you know, to take a step back, take a breath, to look at it and come at it from an angle of kindness and generosity is what she’s taught me most. And every day, she inspires me to try and know better,
Michael Hughes 42:41
That’s really inspiring. And, and, and thank you very much for sharing, and a kindness, you know, empathy, it’s all things that we need. And if you don’t have kindness, or empathy, you know, tests are the key factors of being a good entrepreneur, too. You know, that’s. So thank you very much for being on the episode of this show. And for our listeners, thank you for listening to this episode of The Art of aging, which is part of the abundant podcast series from United Church homes. And then we want to hear from you, you know, what’s changed about you as you age that you love? You know, what do you think about what we talked about today, with age tech innovation? What do you think is missing? From the world of innovation aging that deserves to be there. Talk to us and open up a conversation at abundant aging podcast.com. You can also find us on youtube under United Church homes. And a reminder again to check out our Ruth Frost Parker center, especially our annual symposium at the beginning of October every single year, this year’s topic, ending ageism, at UnitedChurchHomes.org/parker-center. And before I forget, Andy, tell us where we can find you and give us the three things that you’d want to pitch.
Andy Miller 43:53
And things like, you can find us learning all about all the things we’re doing at AOP innovation labs, at the H tech collaborative. And that’s just htechcollaborative.org. And you can learn all about the pitch events, our startups and what we’re trying to build. We, in a very short time built the largest ecosystem in the world. But Ron H tech, very honored to have United Church Holmes and might be one of our participating members, has one of our very early members. So thank you. And so that’s what we’re up to. Super excited to just continue to find the most dynamic startups we can. We’re constantly scouring the globe to find companies that are really making a difference. So if you’re one of those companies, go to our website, check out our events and what we’re all about and reach out for assurances and work with us. If you’re a large company, the same thing comes. Come join the ecosystem and learn all about how to build better products and create more value for your audience.
Michael Hughes 44:55
Just from the United Church homeless perspective, we’ve loved the experience of being a testbed with the collaborative. And again anybody who is either an H-Tech founder, large company interested visit htechcollaborative.org. That’s it for this episode. Thank you all for listening. We’ll see you next time.