What we’re building at Umbrella

I want to tell you about three trends that are changing America today.

The first is that our country is getting older. You’ll hear things like “10,000 people turn 65 a day” but that doesn’t adequately convey the actuarial drumbeat. There will be 80 million Americans 65 or older by 2035.

The second trend is that most of these older adults will want to stay in their homes. This is called “aging in place” — the desire to live in the house and community you’ve always lived in— not an isolated, age segregated facility.

The third is that older adults are becoming more digital. But most products aren’t built for older adults. Every demographic has unique digital needs — your baby sister uses Snapchat differently than your husband— but older adults have been a neglected digital consumer.

Those are indisputable demographic truths that Umbrella is building for.

Here are two things that we believe that others don’t:

  • Products for older adults should be built and sold directly to older adults. We’re building one of the very few “direct to older adult” (D2OA) brands. We don’t sell infantilizing products to adult children buying for their parents — we sell to our users.
  • There is a deep power in communities supporting themselves, and technology can be used to elevate the best of human kind — not replace it. You won’t see any humanoid robots from us.

We believe in a world where technology can allow all of us to live independently, supported by our community, in comfort and safety.

Our first product is a ‘do-good’ marketplace that allows the community to pitch in and earn extra income.

We do all kinds of tasks in and around the home to make it easier to stay there — everything from raking leafs, to snow blowing, small household repairs, house cleaning, technology tutoring, and transportation to appointments.

The side effect of serving our customer is the creation of purposeful work for our communities. More than half of the people who work through Umbrella are themselves retired but want to stay busy and put their skills to work. Our Members and our Neighbors (what we call the the folks who do the work) form long lasting relationships through the process– sharing lemonade, lunch, and live music.

We think this is tremendously exciting, but it’s only the first step for the Umbrella.

If you think about the world from the point of view of the modern independent older adult — who is increasingly digital, and whose needs are changing and intensifying — we can flip the idea of the centralized, dehumanizing older adult facility on its head, to create a better life for the future ahead of us all.