Katy Fike, who has a degree in systems engineering, was working as an analyst at Lehman Brothers when she decided to pursue a PhD in gerontology. At that point, “I was either going to an aging conference or a tech conference,” she says. “I realized we needed to make them the same.” The result is Aging 2.0, a network of innovators using technology to improve the lives of older adults. It sponsors global events, hosts an accelerator program, and recently launched Generator Ventures to fund age-related startups. Here are three companies it has invested in so far:
An 11-inch personal robot that can order groceries for you or remind you to take the roast out of the oven. Fike sees it as more than just a personal assistant. “He can connect you to your family or care provider,” she says.
Essentially a belt with airbags in it. Active Protective can decrease the impact of a fall by 90%. “This is a perfect example of how technology that exists in other industries can be creatively applied to this space,” says Fike.
A connected-home kit that makes it safer for older adults to live alone. It comes with mini accelerometers that can be stuck on anything from a pillbox (to remind you to take your meds) to the fridge (to remind you to shut the door).
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
I have my best ideas while running, ideally near the ocean. For better or worse, my brain also seems to really light up when I lay down to go to bed. So I often end up pecking away notes to myself on my phone when I should be sleeping.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Check my phone . . . which I know is bad. I’d love to say meditate, but I’d be lying.
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
The size of our team: We’re small but mighty!
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
Humans Of New York (@humansofny)–it reinforces to me that there are just so many neat people in this world and they each have their own unique story.
How do you keep track of everything you have to do?
My best productivity tool is my Zirtual assistant. I’ve been using the service for about 9 months now and it’s been a game changer for me. It let’s me focus on what I should be focused on and she keeps everything organized and running smoothly behind the scenes.
What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?
When I was a teenager, my mom used to say that it was impossible for me to be in a bad mood if I’d done the following three things: go for a run, clean my room, and call my best friend. Those three still do the trick for me to this day!
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
Richard Branson. He brings fresh thinking, an elevated consumer experience, and thoughtful application of technology and design to every industry he touches. In essence, we’re trying to bring those same things to senior care and the aging experience.