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Project Get Old Winner: Using A Lifetime Of Experience To Launch A Startup
October 19, 2016
When you think of a startup founder, the first image that comes to mind may be of a millennial in a hooded sweatshirt, pulling all-nighters to write software code.
But in fact, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are twice as likely as millennials to start new businesses, according to a 2015 Gallup poll1. Increasingly forgoing retirement for a second or third act, boomer entrepreneurs are putting their resources and lifetimes of experience to work to propel business ideas to success.
It’s Never Too Late to Start a New Chapter
Take, for example, Andy Birutis, 58, who already had 30 years of experience in the consumer products industry when he teamed up with former colleagues two years ago to launch Alchemi Labs, a sun protective gear company.
“We realized how much we love working together and making products, and thought ‘why don’t we do this one more time—where we can make a difference?’” said Birutis, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
In August, Birutis and the company’s first line of products, Alchemi Sun Hats, were selected as the Grand Prize Winner of Pfizer and Indiegogo’s Project Get Old. In partnership with the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, the contest showcases innovations that encourage healthy aging for the mind, body and spirit.
Four finalists were selected in June to be featured on the Project Get Old Indiegogo page. Innovations included a “smart” mattress cover that tracks duration and quality of sleep and a portable standing desk. But Alchemi Sun Hats, which use high-tech materials to help safeguard people while being active outdoors, won over judges.
As the winner of Project Get Old, Alchemi Labs will be awarded $50,000 and a day of mentoring with select Pfizer colleagues in New York, where company experts will provide advice on everything from social media to venture capital fundraising.
Understanding the need for sun-protection
A world-traveler and outdoor enthusiast, Birutis is a prime customer for his own product. He begins his day each morning with a three-mile hike in sunny Arizona, where temperatures can hit 95 Fahrenheit before 8 am. “The sun really gets to you,” said Birutis. “I understand the need for protection from skin cancer and heat stroke and exhaustion. We’re more aware of it than other parts of the country..”
Indeed, people who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds are at greater risk for skin cancer2. As the average lifespan increases, between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have some form of skin cancer3. Seniors have accumulated a lifetime of sun exposure, putting them at higher risk for skin cancer. In addition, as people age, their body’s ability to repair DNA damage from the sun also diminishes.
But even aside from seniors, experts recommend that all people over 6 months of age use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wear sun-protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to block harmful UV-rays4.