Entrepreneur's Annual 100 Brilliant Ideas
By Kara Ohngren and Jennifer Wang | Entrepreneur Magazine - June 2010
Reboot, sonny Florence Henderson wants to outrun the Geek Squad with FloH Club, her new tech service for seniors Last spring, actress Florence Henderson admitted she had a problem: She couldn't e-mail on her new smartphone.
"We were talking about how we were going to launch FloH, the brand she wanted to start to promote better living for seniors," says Tony Hirsch, a business partner. "And when we showed her how to use e-mail, she said, 'I want all my friends to be able to do this!'"
Fast-forward a year, and the former Brady Bunch mom is on set in Westlake Village, Calif., wrapping up an infomercial for FloH Club, her telephone-based tech-support service for seniors. For $24.99 a month, members get 24/7 access to computer specialists. Want a Facebook account? Done. Need to hook up a printer or make an online purchase? No problem. They'll even access computers remotely and provide on-screen tutorials.
"Necessity was the mother of this invention," says Henderson, 76. "It can be so embarrassing to ask for help--so I wanted to make sure there was no such thing as a silly question at FloH Club.
For that expertise, she partnered with Support.com, a tech-support center that's based in North America and trains agents to help clients who aren't so good with technology. Despite little advertising, membership has grown since the October launch, Henderson says. She expects the infomercial, set to air this summer, to draw tens of thousands of new members by the end of the year.
It's an idea whose time is now: Internet use is growing proportionately fastest among older users, and targeted sites are springing up everywhere--think Eons, a social networking space for boomers, or Granpaparazzi, a street-style blog for seniors. It's enough to draw the worst technophobe online. Now, how do you open the attach? --J.W.
9 More to Watch:
Continuum Crew A boomer think tank and marketing firm that aims to attract older consumers to brands in industries as varied as pharmaceuticals, financial services and packaged goods.
Dating for Seniors Dating site targeted at singles 45 and older that screens for fake profiles and spam. Monthly membership ($29.95) after a free three-day trial.
Granpaparazzi A style blog featuring senior street fashion. "They're already wearing what you covet and they have been for decades."
Myine Electronics The company's electronic audio products make music accessible to consumers with limited time or technological sophistication.
Nifty after Fifty A fitness franchise, complete with "Brainaerobics" and driving simulation programs for the 50-plus crowd, with locations in sunshiny California, Nevada and Texas.
SeniorsForJobs.com Seniors who don't believe in retirement post résumés on this job site, which matches them with employers who need to fill ranks with experienced hires.
Silver Ride A San Francisco driving service dedicated to helping older adults stay independent after "driving retirement."
Summit Health Resources The new Green House homes--an alternative to traditional senior-care facilities--provide residence for as many as 12 seniors, who each have their own rooms and plenty of autonomy.
Wellcore The "Help, I've fallen!" personal emergency response system gets a design makeover. Say hello to the iPad of fall-alert devices.