Innovation Spotlight: Brookdale’s Entrepreneur in Residence Program

At Lucro, we love seeing innovations come to life, so this week, we’d like to showcase a provider on our platform who is truly driving innovation. When we heard about Brookdale Senior Living’s Entrepreneur in Residence Program, we were very impressed. We think it deserves a spotlight - both to be an example to other providers of how you can drive innovation at your organization and to confirm for vendors and entrepreneurs there are organizations out there trying to drive innovation in senior care and can help in your product development. Take it away, Andrew!

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Guest Blog written by: Andrew Smith, Director of Strategy and Innovation at Brookdale Senior Living

I am a millennial. I wear a Pebble Smartwatch (RIP!), use a smartphone and a tablet, and prefer Snapchat and Instagram for keeping in touch with my friends around the country. I was in college when Facebook was limited to those with a university e-mail address. Each morning I wake up to natural light from my Philips Wakeup Light, my Nest Thermostat keeps my home at just the right temperature and my Nest Protect keeps my family and me safe. As part of an age group for whom technology is central, I am aware of how fast things change: My generation is the last one to spend its early years without the Internet. So yes, I can read a paper map, although it’s been a while.

One of the many amazing things about my position with Brookdale Senior Living is that it puts me in touch with people who have been “Internet-less” for most of their lives. Brookdale has over 1,000 senior living communities in 46 states. We care for more seniors than any other company, and nearly 100,000 residents are under our care. Every month, about 60 of our residents celebrate their 100th birthday. If you are 100 years old, you have lived without the web for 85% of your life.

People 80 and above are the fastest growing population but for too long we’ve been designing products for everyone but this population. There’s a huge opportunity to enhance seniors’ lives with new technologies, services and products. People say seniors are resistant to technology, but they are actually the very inventors and consumers who drove all this innovation in the first place. Think about it: television (1927), microwaves (1947), putting a man on the moon (1969), home video game consoles (1972), mobile phones (1973), Sony Walkman (1979), and on and on.

Here at Brookdale, we have a program called the Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Program to directly address two common challenges innovators and entrepreneurs face when building products and services for seniors:

  • How do you connect with a person who at the age of 90 may be managing a number of physical, mental and social challenges?
  • Where do you find them and how do you engage them in a meaningful dialogue to improve your product?

We enable those seeking to innovate for the aging to live side-by-side with seniors by moving into a Brookdale community for five days, having fun with them, dining with them and building relationships. This allows innovators to better understand this population and gives them a mechanism to design with seniors, not just for seniors. The residents absolutely love it – they love the opportunity to learn about new technology and to contribute to the process. They love the energy and passion these entrepreneurs bring to their work, and they cherish the opportunity to help someone young and passionate be successful. The program also provides Brookdale the opportunity to learn about and experience new technologies quickly and inexpensively and to make sure that we understand what residents want and need when selecting what types of new innovations to pilot and expand across the Brookdale platform. The program serves as a robust introduction to companies that we can reach out to as our organization’s priorities necessitate it.

If you’re looking to test or refine a concept, service or product for seniors, we invite you to participate in this free program. It’s open to startups as well as large, established companies. Past EIR participants tell us their experience has been incredible, bringing them new knowledge, recommendations, friendships and lots of great insight on how to make what they’re doing best fit seniors’ needs.

Looking to apply? Log on to Lucro today and search for the “Entrepreneur in Residence Program” board to submit your solution:

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Denise Hicks
Client Happiness Extraordinaire, Lucro

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