This year is the seventh year that Santa Clara University has been host to the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit and Business Plan Competition. The event’s co-producers, the university’s Leavey School of Business and Mary Furlong & Associates, describe the now-annual event as a “unique forum to explore, share and design products and services that will dominate the baby boomer market in coming years.”
As is said, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. In other words, a trade show is a trade show. And the Boomer Venture Summit is pretty much that – a trade show that showcases what its participants, mostly thirty-something MBAs and Ph.D.s, think will capture their elders’ imagination, or at least their disposable income.
The high point of the day is the competition in which teams of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed youngsters get the opportunity to pitch their boomer biz ideas to a panel of judges. Attracting entries from around the U.S. and the world, the contest awards one lucky group of entrepreneurs $10,000 to bring their concept to market.
Let me tell you, there’s no exercise in humiliation quite like being brought face-to-face with what that millennial generation thinks about us 50-something Baby Boomers. Forget going to San Francisco with flowers in your hair. At your age, if you’re going to San Francisco it’s only going to be with all the assistance modern medical technology can bring to bear on your decrepit and deteriorating self.
This year’s medical offerings featured Clear Ear’s impacted ear wax removal technology, MEMStim’s neurostimulators, Oculeve’s natural tear production therapy, OMyMeds’ prescription aggregator, Pontus Medical’s non-invasive “fluid status” monitors, Quipu’s heart failure early diagnosis systems, Cadence Biomedical ‘s “kinetic” orthotics, Fall Stop…MOVE STRONG’s dance program for reducing injuries, Golden health guide’s review website for home medical products, and SmithWorks’ “products for the mobility-impaired.”
To while away the slivers of our time not dedicated to medical treatment, there was Entrée’s “easy-to-use” Internet hub for seniors, Personal Spokesman’s text-to-speech mobile application to make smartphones “accessible,” and myDen’s “integration of network and streaming broadband content delivered to the television, for seniors,” and, my personal favorite, AfterSteps’ online end-of-life planning platform.
Closing the afternoon’s presentations was Surprisingly Vegan’s “natural,” vegan and gluten-free “just-add-water whole-grain waffle mix.”
I didn’t stay to hear Guy Kawasaki’s closing talk on “How to Design Enchantment,” so I can’t tell you how removing your earwax, putting some kinesiology in your orthotics, or mixing up a batch of instant vegan waffles drive up life’s enchantment meter. However, I can tell those whippersnappers this: I am not going into that good night as a vegan. First I want a good steak, a martini and possibly a cigarette.
If your trifocals are handy, you can read more about the Boomer Venture Summit at www.scuboomerventure.com. Assuming, of course, you have a grandchild who knows how to turn on the computer.