Q&A With Mary Furlong: Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit [Sponsored]

As interest in senior care continues to grow from the investment community, one event has successfully brought aspiring entrepreneurs focusing on the baby boomer market and investment partners together for more than a decade.

The 15th Annual Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit, scheduled for June 20th-21st in Berkeley, California, will feature a business plan competition for start-ups with products and services aimed at the baby boomer market with a winning prize of $10,000. The event also provides an opportunity for growing organizations in the longevity market to connect with venture capital and senior housing operators.

Register here for this two-day conference while tickets are still available.


The dialogue has been edited for clarity and brevity.

George:  How did the Silicon Valley Boomer Summit get started 15 years ago, and what’s the draw for entrepreneurs?

Mary: Fifteen years ago, I started this. A lot of the venture capitalists said to me, “Gee, we’re not really in the longevity market. We’re in the health care market.” But then when we drilled down, we saw that the customers in the health care market were largely older people, because they have more chronic diseases and more chronic conditions. We launched the business plan competition and we had amazing judges because we have access to the venture community.


One part of the Silicon Valley Boomer Summit is winning the $10,000 prize, but the bigger part is winning the connections into the networks and the ecosystems that we’ve created across a lot of different categories.

The connections that we’ve had with the winners and watching their stories—you’ll see on the agenda, there’s a session on what we’ve learned from the winners because they’ve had to raise angel capital, seed capital, some have done deals with private equity, many have done deals in other countries. There’s a lot of learning that we can gain from how they got into the market.

George: What is one area you are seeing investors and companies most excited about this year?

Mary: I think one area that everyone’s excited about is voice-enabled technology and how it’s helping seniors live in their homes. People are also interested in learning about artificial intelligence, and the kinds of services that need to be developed that are market-leading.

George: Tell me about the sessions for the two-day conference.What are they all about?

Mary: The number one thing people liked last year was the networking, and this is a small, curated conference. It’s not a conference of thousands. It’s a conference of 200 to 300. We are looking at creating context for conversations around what does work in terms of going to market. What are the next level thoughts about senior housing, senior housing and hospitality, what exactly are the opportunities in the the China market? We are very excited—for the first time, we’re going to have investors in senior housing from China coming to talk about that market and how fast and how large that’s growing.

So, you’ll see John Hopper, who’s with the Ziegler Link-Age Fund, and you’ll see David Lindeman, who’s currently in China but is doing a whole two-hour session on that China market with Roseann Lake from The Economist and her new book on China. We have a more global marketplace, so we have investors coming from Dubai and Canada and companies from Israel and Taiwan. We also have more women angel investors and more women seed investors and more women entrepreneurs than any conference in this market space.

It’s a small event, over two days, where you can actually sit down and have a conversation about what your thoughts are so that you can further improve your blueprint. It’s research-rich, so you’re going to get white papers and content that you could take back to inform your thinking.

George: That’s great. What can senior living owners, operators and developers get out of coming to the event?

Mary: I think they can get a blueprint to help them shape a vision of where they should go next and access to the data to share. I also think they can get tools and skills to refine their marketing messages. I think they can get new partnerships. I think they can learn from major players on the investing side. We also have people who want to participate at the angel, seed, and corporate investing level. If I’m a senior housing operator and I want to be on the cutting edge, I think this is the conference to come to.

** The story has been edited to reflect the date of the event for June and not July as previously written. SHN apologizes for the error.