We just got back from our first experience as exhibitors at AARP’s Life@50+ Conference in Miami. This conference brings together tech startups, clinical providers, consumer product companies, and an array of services to help people maintain healthy and active lifestyles as they get older. With over 10,000 attendees, most of whom are AARP members, we figured this would be an incredible opportunity to meet more people in our target demographic, get our name out there, gather feedback, and conduct a little user testing along the way.
After going to many pitch competitions throughout the year, we decided to try it ourselves. We applied to the Health Innovation@50+ Live Pitch competition, earning a alternative slot (top 6% out of the 235+ startups that applied!) and the opportunity to pitch for one minute in front of the judges (life science venture capitalists) and the audience (conference goers). Team Meerkat Health found out just how hard it is to cram the problem, solution, traction, team, and advisors into 60 seconds. After many hours of meeting with a pitch expert (thank you, Sandeep and Lift Off Health!), writing, rewriting, practicing, and pep-talking, I pitched!
We also had a booth in the Technology and Innovation section, where we had our prototype and survey form ready. Attendees stood on our prototype, but only took our coveted Dove chocolate and Werther’s treats (candy is a necessity at any conference) when we told them that the prototype wasn’t actually weighing them. In the 18 hours at the booth, we spoke to over 300 people and received over 100 filled out surveys that collected information on people’s health habits, motivations for good health, communication preferences, and use of technology. We are in the midst of running the statistics on all of the data but it was so helpful to see people’s reactions, talk to them about the idea, and get their feedback. It ranged from some people walking away in the middle of our conversation claiming they hated the idea of weighing themselves daily, to other people asking if we were selling it on the spot.
Overall, it was an incredible experience for us. We met a lot of amazing people, including potential users (many of whom are interested in helping us with further user experience testing) and entrepreneurs (with a lot of potential for partnerships).