Silicon Valley techies who take the 50+ market seriously

Kai Stinchcombe isn’t your typical Millennial in Silicon Valley. At age 30, he has launched a company that targets a consumer group that doesn’t interest most tech companies in the neighborhood: the elderly.

Stinchcombe’s company, True Link, is posed to roll out a debit card tied to software that can guard unsuspecting seniors against financial fraud and abuse. It’s meant to address a huge, underreported problem that results in financial losses of $2.9 billion a year in the United States, according to a Metlife study. And fraud will only worsen with the aging of the baby boom generation, which will create a vast, tempting group of targets for scammers hawking things like fake charities, magazine subscriptions, overpriced hearing aids and home repairs.

But when Stinchcombe has pitched his idea to funders, potential partners and even employees, the reactions have been frustrating.

“People will say, ‘Oh this is great – you could issue this card to teenagers, too.’ Or, ‘How are you going to get out of that niche market for elderly people!’ A niche market? Are you kidding me?”

Indeed, the potential market for products targeting aging Americans is hardly a niche – and its growing at an explosive pace. The population of people over age 65 will hit 81 million in 2050, up from 37 million in 2005, according to the Pew Research Center. That translates into 19 percent of the total population, compared with 12 percent in 2005.

Stinchcombe, True Link’s chief executive officer, thinks Silicon Valley tends to ignore that trend line because of its youthful culture. He has raised $1.1 million to launch the card, which will hit the market early next year. But he also has allied True Link with Aging 2.0, a new business accelerator in San Francisco focused on spurring innovation in products and services for the 50-plus market. Learn more at Reuters Money.