On October 28th 2011 our team participated in the Startup Weekend Eindhoven. Some of us pitched others came to join groups. Lilian decided she would pitch after all…

The problem

While working for TNO, she had done research on the social networks of elderly people. The goal was to find out how to help elderly people maintain their social network for a longer period of time and how ICT could play a role. One of her findings was that the family remains the most important network, when all other networks disappear. She also found that usually one or two daughters communicate a lot with the (grand)parent and keep him/her up to date on what is happening with the other family members. The other family members do not communicate as regularly as the grandparent would like, but they understand that the children “are very busy with their lives, their work, their children etc.

This is a pity, because elderly people have a lot of “time to kill” during the long days. They say they do not need to have everybody visit them all the time, as long as they know what family members are doing and that they care about them. They want to feel connected. Elderly people will not easily admit this to their children: they do not want to intrude in the lives of their children or complain.

Ironically most of the family members are very well connected with the rest of the world through the internet. By using e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp, Twitter etc. they let the whole world know what they are doing. Except for their grandparents… 30% of elderly people between 60 and 70 do not use a PC and/or are not connected to the Internet. Because family members cannot communicate with their (grand)parents in the way that they are used to, it means that the elderly are not part of their Social Network.

The solution

If you would give your (grand)parents a “digital photo frame” you could send them short messages, pictures and children drawings. Because they do not have to do anything to receive these messages/pictures it is not scary or complicated for them. These digital photo frames already exist on the market, but they are not widely used yet. We would like to offer a product-service combination which makes it very easy for the children to send pictures/messages to the elderly, using the communication means that they are already using. Our main focus is not so much the device, but the service around family communication and “connecting generations”. We want to get close to the needs of both the (grand)parents and the children and grandchildren (under 10, teenagers, students).

Startup Weekend

During Startup weekend we worked very hard on making a business plan. We studied the competition and did a SWOT analysis. We also talked to elderly people and to teenagers. We programmed a working prototype, which we showed during the final presentation. We did not win any of the team prizes, but Lilian was rewarded with the audience award for best idea (an Executive Master Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Leuven Gent) and we got a wildcard to participate at Startup Weekend Groningen. The theme of this weekend was “Healthy Aging”, so our idea fit in very well.
We got lucky (or better) this time and won the third prize!

Starting a startup

After the two startup weekends we continued working on the idea with four people: Lilian Kuiper, Peter van Veggel, Jop van Raaij and Gökhan Seckin. We decided on doing a Pilot in an elderly home and testing the first version of Kiek4U… more details in our next blog.