New Ideas for Older Adults
With Lawrence Kosick
With the rapid changes in technology, it’s easier than ever to get connected online. Except one demographic that has essentially been left behind – older adults. Today’s guest is working to change that.
Lawrence Kosick is the Co-founder of GetSetUp, a learning platform and community for older adults – specifically those aged 60+. He was inspired at a young age by the wisdom and potential of the older residents at his father’s assisted living facility. GetSetUp focuses on re-skilling seniors who then teach other seniors how to do all the important things in their lives. This demographic will be close to 25% of the total population in the next 20 years, and seniors will become increasingly important customers for every business. GetSetUp’s Guides will be able to train and onboard these customers across Healthcare, Technology, Finance and a whole host of other verticals. On GetSetUp, learners can take classes in how to use their SmartPhone or iPad, drawing and crafting, cooking, and ordering groceries using an app. With GetSetUp, the world becomes more accessible for elders, whether or not they leave their homes.
Lawrence and Co-founders Neil Dsouza and Deval Delivala launched GetSetUp with support from founders of LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Zynga, as well as executives from United Healthcare and Rally Health. Previously, Lawrence oversaw Business Development and Partnerships for IFTTT, led Sight Machine’s APAC operations, and was VP of Global Partnerships at Yahoo.
A company born from community
Lawrence often gets asked: Why focus on older adults? He has a multifaceted answer.
As an entrepreneur, Lawrence realized that older adults, particularly in the 50-70 age range, are the fastest-growing group in the world. With limited knowledge in countries like the United States, he clearly identified a need for greater accessibility. In countries outside the US where elders are more likely to have technical savvy, GetSetUp’s travel and cooking classes are wildly popular and learners are likely to connect with others socially via groups.
But when Lawrence developed his business plan, he was focused on more than wealth or success. He remembered the days when his father has a retirement home – and he recalled how difficult things were for the residents. Elders in the facility often felt forgotten and overlooked by society. They also struggled with loneliness and missed the people they cared about. As Lawrence worked on GetSetUp, he connected strongly with the desire to make life happier and healthier for people as they age.
Lawrence and his Co-founder created an image of a world where differently-abled people can virtually travel at the click of a button, make new friends securely on the internet, discuss their favorite hobbies and interests, and learn new skills.
Scaling took a smart idea
When the pandemic hit, the Founders of GetSetUp recognized an opportunity to grow and scale the company. However, they weren’t certain where they should find instructors for their classes.
It dawned on them that their learners were more likely to be receptive to and excited by classes taught by other elder adults – but that group is less likely to know how to teach online!
An idea was born. Lawrence and his Co-founders met a retired former Apple Genius Bar instructor and Operator with 30+ years of experience teaching others how to use technology and teach online. They helped her set up an academy to help retired teachers learn to teach online.
They then reached out to the Retired Teachers Association and began bringing retired teachers onto their team. With support from their Genius Bar instructor, they empowered the teachers to learn new ways of using technology to teach others, and it took off.
While this sounded like an insurmountable hurdle, Lawrence and his team took it on. It was all part of empowering others to live better lives – and the mission is continuing on as GetSetUp thrives with over 5 Million users today!
“How could I apply my business and fundraising experience to tackle something that was more fulfilling–where I could wake up every day to solve a specific problem?”
“I love startups. You have to be a little bit of a ‘broken toy’ to do a startup, because you are fundamentally disrupting a market or building something that has never been built before. It’s not for the faint of heart but for the right person, it’s a wonderful thing to do. There is nothing easy about doing that.”
“We realized that there was a huge technical deficit and need to scale it faster. We realized we had to go out and raise capital.”
“The 50-60 year old US portion of the population is the fastest-growing. We have a disproportionate amount of adults who need to learn things and use services to live happy healthy lives.”
“We started asking our learners – what else do you want or need to learn? It became a great source for new programming. And we kept hiring new teachers.”
“People think – if that person can do it, I can do it too. We didn’t expect it to be as magical as it is.”
“You’re not only teaching them things, but there are instances where we are helping them overcome loneliness.”
“Not everything is a structured academic class. When you think about helping someone understand their iPad or use LinkedIn for volunteer work, they’re smaller and more interactive classes.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Visit the website for GetSetUp at www.getsetup.io
Connect with Lawrence on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lawrencekosick/
Follow GetSetUp on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/getsetup.io
Follow GetSetUp on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lawrencekosick
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