As usual, Laurie Orlov's blog raises a fundamental question or two.
It has been heartening to see so many young people become involved in the age business but are any of them making money from their products and services?
My product marketing model classes products and services designed for, and marketed to, older people as silo products. This is distinct from the much larger universe of products that all ages purchase - these are called age neutral. The reality is that the two dimensions of being age-neutral - the design of the product and how it is marketed, sold and supported, are anything but age-neutral and instead too often assume the customer has the physiological profile of a 30 year old.
So the question is, when does a product need to become silo rather than having age-friendliness at the foundation of its design and marketing? For instance, why do we need a silo tablet device rather than an off-the-shelf iPad or Samsung? I can list a lot of reasons but are any of these so fundamental that makes the device unusable?
Now, if these devices were designed, from the floor up, to be capable of being used by all people, including those with the normal level of physiological ageing issues, then at what point does it become commercially viable to provide a silo product? I can tell you, it raises the point a long way.
Having a firm grasp on this model is a good starting point to answering the question that Laurie asks.
Another issue, and there are lots more, is the distribution channel and having enough marketing dollars to make it work. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many startups founder by not consider their channels to market.
Dick Stroud's answer to Laurie's question is yes you can make money but it is much harder than you think and it will be even harder when age-neutral products are innately age-friendly. And of course it depends on how smart the startup is in grasping the fundamentals of NPD and launch that have been around for ages. Dick Stroud