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Thursday, April 28, 2016

5th Annual AARP Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch™

Well, it took me 2 hours and 12 minutes to drive the 70 miles to the Sunnyvale Plug and Play Center from my house in Antioch. I should have left the house at 5:30 instead of 6. I briefly thought about going the back way over to Livermore and then down (a lot shorter as the crow flies), but I'm glad I didn't, even though it took me an hour just to get to Walnut Creek alone on the 4 and the 242. I had KQED on the radio (as always), and they reported a major fatal crash on the 580 at Hopyard Road in Pleasanton that had westbound 4 lanes closed, with traffic backed up all the way to Altamont Pass.

Ugh. Then, I didn't get back to the house 'til about 7:45 pm after the event.

I'm glad I resisted the (coffee bladder exacerbated) episodically transient traffic gridlock urge to bail and just go back home and crawl back in the sack. The day was well worth it. Particularly in the contextual light of this book I'm close to finishing.

See also, in particular, my recent take on Dan Lyons' book "Disrupted." And, my April 25th post Digital Health IT = "Better Care at Lower Cost." Right? -- wherein I review evolutionary biologist Dan Lieberman's important book "The Story of the Human Body." As I posted over on Medium,
I could not recommend this book more highly. I would make it required reading in medical school. The genus homo has been around on earth for more than 7 million years, after branching off from its primate forbears. Roughly 99% of that time has been spent in pre-agrarian hunter-gather mode, and it is that long, ancient period to which we remain biologically adapted. To the extent we fail to take this into account, we will stymie to a significant degree everything else we try to do to improve health care and human health...

So, this year's theme was all about "caregiving" and caregivers. Yeah, been there, done that. Between my late daughter and then my now-late parents I put in 15 years of next-of-kin caregiver duty.

Nice PDF link here.
"As of late 2014, approximately 40 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult. This population of caregivers is estimated to reach 45 million by 2020, caring for 117 million people."
My time wearing the Driving-Miss-Sissy/POA/Legal Guardian/ADL scutwork hats was pretty much bereft of any digital apps assistance.

It looks like a lot of help is on the way. One hopes. Definitely a huge and ever-growing market. BTW, the UK's Paul Mason notes in his fine book "Postcapitalism" that there are three overlapping drivers bearing on the future of markets: [1] aging population, [2] climate change, and [3] migration. Another important read, this book.

So, this Innovation@50+ event featured, beyond the great panel discussions, short presentations by ten Pitch Competition finalists, each of whom had to then take questions from a panel of Venture Capital representatives. The audience subsequently got to vote on three (ordinal ranked) criteria as well via little hand-held remotes.
  1. "Does this product or service fill a significant need?"
  2. "Is this product or service unique?"
  3. "Would you use this product or service yourself or recommend it to family?"
The offerings spanned a wide products and services array, as did the panel and audience reactions.

At the conclusion two winners emerged, one chosen by the VC panel, one on the basis of audience vote tallies.

A few random pics from the day.

Alexandra Drane and Lisa Suennen!

Robin Farmanfarmaian.

What a story she has... I found her passing negative allusion to Theranos interesting. BTW, she has a book out.

"We are on the cusp of a healthcare revolution.

From wearable sensors, to improved point-of-care diagnostics to artificial intelligence and robotics, there are breakthroughs in biomedical technology on an almost daily basis which are set to fundamentally change the way that patients interact with their healthcare providers.

Author Robin Farmanfarmaian has seen this change first-hand. Misdiagnosed at age 16, she endured multiple surgeries and countless hospitalizations over the course of a decade before deciding to take charge of her own healthcare and changing her life overnight..."
Mo' pics...

Gonna take me a while to name all of these peeps. Difficult to take notes while shooting on the fly. I'd seen some of them at #WinterTech. Lotta smarts on the stage.

The absurdly smart 17 yr old CEO of SafeWander!
Wonder if they carded him at the 4 pm open bar reception ;)
Alex's keynote interview with AARP's Nancy LeaMond

Yeah, BobbyG loves to photograph the ladies in particular. Like, duhhh...

Competition winners Penrose (two on the L) and SingFit (two on the R)

Plug and Play is a cool place. Stage lighting sucked, though. Insufficient spots, mis-aimed, no parcan floods with gels, and no backlighting. Yeah, I'm spoiled.

I'll have further reflections shortly, but for now I'll just post the foregoing.

AARP Health Innovation@50+ Announces Winners of LivePitch: Penrose Senior Care Auditors as Judges’ Choice and SingFit as Consumers’ Choice
Sunnyvale, CA (PRWEB) April 28, 2016

AARP today announced the winners of its fifth Health Innovation@50+ LivePitch event held yesterday, Wednesday, April 27 at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, CA. Ten startup health tech companies focused on caregiving pitched their businesses and Penrose Senior Care Auditors was chosen as Judges’ Choice. SingFit was voted as Consumers’ Choice by the 400+ audience. The full event streaming video, as well as highlights, will be posted on the website which also includes more information on companies and content, at

“We were very impressed with our finalists this year, and how their businesses will improve the lives of caregivers and those they care for,” said Jody Holtzman, senior vice president, Enterprise Strategy and Innovation, AARP. “Of a great set of companies, Penrose Senior Care Auditors stood out and was recognized by our industry expert judges. SingFit resonated the most with the 400+ people who joined us yesterday. We are now excited to work with all the finalists to support their businesses as they make critical impacts in the “50 and over” health technology sector.”

Judges’ Choice Penrose Senior Care Auditors of Dallas, TX provides the first and only tech/app-enabled senior care auditing solution, called Penrose Check-Ins, to ensure seniors are okay while providing families peace-of-mind. During the Penrose Care-Check, an auditor visits the senior and using the app, assesses 150 items related to their well being and reports back to the family. @penrosecheckin

Consumers’ Choice SingFit of Los Angeles, CA combines a growing body of scientific research on the health benefits of prescribed singing with a proprietary music platform in order to mass distribute the benefits of music as medicine. Focused on dementia care and healthy aging, its debut product SingFit PRIME is the winner of the USC Keck School of Medicine Body Computing Prize. @MusicalHealthT...
I dug the SingFit thing in particular, given that I'm an ex-working musician.

So, just prior to the conclusion of the event, Alexandra and Lisa riffed together on some really funny standup-worthy stuff about starting and VC-pitching a fake "caregiver startup" simply to prove to their loved ones that they truly cared about them.

I immediately recalled a passage in Douglas Rushkoff's book (update: which I've now finished; he saved the best for last).


When investing gets so separated from real economic activity, finding funding for a company— without falling into the growth trap— is hard. Entrepreneurs must play the same abstracted game as investors but from the other side of the board. 

One of the smartest technologists I know, a young woman from the West Coast I’ll call Ruby, decided to launch a company on a whim. She was not interested in making money or even promoting a new technology; she wanted to test her theories about how the ebbs and flows of the startup market worked and whether she could win at the game by getting herself acquired. 

So Ruby did exhaustive research on emerging interests and keywords in the technology and business press, as well as conference topics and TED subjects. What were venture capitalists getting interested in? Moreover, what sorts of technical skills would be valuable to those industries? For instance, if she concluded that big data was in ascendance, then she would not only launch a startup related to big data but also make sure she created competencies that big data firms required, such as data visualization or factor analysis. This way, even if her company’s primary offering failed, it would still be valuable as an acquisition— for either its skills or its talent, which would be in high demand if her bet on the growing sector proved correct. 

She ultimately chose geolocation services as the growing field. She assembled teams to build a few apps that depended on geolocation— less because the apps themselves were so terrific (though she wouldn’t complain if one became a hit) than because of the capabilities those apps could offer to potential acquirers. Working on them also forced her team to develop marketable competencies as well as a handful of patentable solutions in a growing field with many problems to solve. The company was purchased, for a whole lot, by a much larger technology player looking to incorporate geolocation into its software and platforms. The employees, founder, and investors who believed in her are now all wealthy people. 

Ruby is not cynical; she is a hacker by nature, and merely gamed a system that she knows is already a game. She reverse engineered a startup based on market conditions, industry trends, and nascent investor fads...
The smartest hackers understand that their skill at hacking technology may be less important than their skill at hacking the digital marketplace. To them, it’s all just code— and even if it’s not, it’s more like code every day. The economy is less a place to create value than a system to game. Hell, everyone in finance and banking is already gaming the system, extracting money from what used to be the simple capitalization of business ventures. Why not create business ventures that game the gamers at their own game?...
Rushkoff, Douglas (2016-03-01). Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity (pp. 184-186). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
LOL. Seriously, you really need to read this one.


With apologies to Ted Cruz.

More to come...

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