We launched the London stream of the Impact Hub Fellowship for Longer Lives in partnership with AXA and Swiss Re Foundation in January this year. We were inundated with submissions from entrepreneurs looking to address the challenges associated with the increase in human life expectancy, falling birth rates and our ageing workforce.
Finally seven finalists spent a day pitching to our expert jury panel made up; of Ilona Haslewood from Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Yves Masson from AXA Direct and Partnerships, Alison Mclean from Swiss Re Foundation, Peter Tyson from Impact Hub King’s Cross, Dermot Egan from Tilt, Valerie Stevens from Help Age International and David Metz from UCL.
It was an inspiring event full of pitches, presentations and interviews all well worthy of support, but three finalists had to be chosen to be part of our accelerator cohort. ‘Silversharers’, ‘See What I Mean’ and ‘Speakset’ all made the cut – we caught up with Ewan Marshall, co-founder of Speakset after the event to ask him a few questions.
What inspired you to explore your enterprise idea?
Ewan: Two years ago I moved in with my grandparents, who were in their 90′s at the time. At the same time I was exploring business ideas. I believe that to create a great business you must try to solve a really big problem. I saw hundreds of problems that my grandparents faced every day and knew that I could solve some of them using technology.
How did you meet your team?
Ewan: I was on a world leading start up accelerator, Entrepreneur First, whilst exploring different business. All three of us had tried and failed various businesses over the first half of the programme. It became clear that what we cared about was creating a business that had a huge impact on the world. We came together around the idea that no one was building great technology for older people not around any product vision. We then spent four months just speaking to as many older people as possible. Learning about their lives, problems and aspirations.
What has been an important lesson you’ve learned during the process?
Ewan: To focus as much as possible on doing one thing really well.
Who are you currently collaborating with?
Ewan: NHS trusts, local governments, charities, care homes and large corporates.
What are you most looking forward to from the Fellowship programme?
Ewan: There are not as many people building businesses for older people as I would like. It is going to be great to be a part of a community like this and help build it from strength to strength.
What does impact mean to you?
Ewan: Changing people’s day to day lives.
SpeakSet is a product that converts an older person’s TV into an easy to use video calling device. It makes video calling accessible by using a clear interface and being controlled by a really simple remote control. SpeakSet solves the problem of isolation in old age.
Team members: Ewan Marshall, Adi Kasliwal and Matt Simmonds