Primetime Partners is a new investment firm involving heavy-hitters from the worlds of venture capital, wellness and senior living, and will back startups focused on the fast-growing older adult market.

The firm originated through collaboration between Alan Patricof and Abby Miller Levy. Patricof is the venture capital icon behind Greycroft, which has $2 billion in assets under management, and Apax Partners, which has $50 billion of assets under management. Levy is former vice president of strategy and growth for SoulCycle and served as president of Arianna Huffington-founded Thrive Global, which is dedicated to driving behavior change to reduce stress and burnout.

Tom DeRosa, CEO of Welltower (NYSE: WELL), will serve as an advisor to Primetime Partners. Welltower is a Toledo, Ohio-based real estate investment trust that is the largest owner of senior housing properties in the United States.

Primetime Partners has gotten off the ground quickly, Levy told Senior Housing News. She and Patricof first became acquainted because he was an investor in Thrive. Also, Levy had attended business school with his son, Jonathan.

“I told Jonathan that I was starting a venture fund in the space, and he said to me, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what my dad wants to do,’” Levy explained. “That was only just back in November.”

In the subsequent eight months, Primetime raised its first fund of $32 million — with investors including NBA star Kevin Durant — and made four investments.

“It’s been definitely an accelerated pace, but I think that’s partially because the opportunity is so crystal clear,” she said. “And the timing is just right.”

While Primetime is off to a quick start, Levy has been examining the opportunity in this space for about three years. She was exploring different ways that her retired parents could spend their time, and found a dearth of options. 

“It just struck me that there are so few private sector businesses that are designed for older adults in terms of products, services and experiences,” she said. “Either they’re super medically oriented, or they are for a different generation of older adults, one that isn’t represented in today’s older adults who are technologically literate, who are very active … and looking for relevance in today’s world.”

Primetime Partners aims to address this 25% of the population that is being underserved. With its first fund, Primetime intends to make seed and early-stage investments of between $250,000 and $1 million.

So far, its portfolio includes startups such as Bloom, which creates online social experiences for older adults, and financial planning service Retirable. The ongoing focus will be on startups of various stripes that are focused on the older adult consumer — aging in place, financial security for retirees, care management, longevity health services, and enriching consumer experiences were all called out as areas of interest, in a press release issued Wednesday. The firm is also eyeing startups founded by older adults.

“At age 85, I want to be the spokesperson for what’s possible and drive society forward,” Patricof stated in the press release.

While a global pandemic might not seem the ideal time to start a venture capital firm, Covid-19 has raised awareness about the plight of older adults in this country, Levy noted. Historically, entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s have tended to focus on solving problems most relevant to their age group, but Covid-19 is revealing other opportunities for them to pursue, she believes. At the same time, older founders are being inspired to start companies to address pain points that they are encountering related to their own parents.

Already, Primetime is seeing a healthy pipeline of potential investments, according to Levy.

Certainly, Covid-19 has made technology more essential than ever to senior living operations, with some startups serving the industry reporting massive growth in the last few months. Levy and Patricof are very aware of the role that senior living communities play in the lives of older adults, and some senior living operators have invested in Primetime, Levy said, although she declined to name them.

She is also excited about the involvement of Welltower.

“Tom is a visionary leader, and he’s always been very focused on serving older adults as much from a health and wellness perspective as from a real estate perspective,” Levy said. DeRosa has helped educate her and Patricof on the market and has helped them make valuable connections, and Welltower’s operators have expressed an openness to meeting startups that can help address issues ranging from nutrition and fitness to connectivity and social isolation.

Levy is aware that senior living operators can be overwhelmed by the proliferation of new technology and the number of pitches and inquiries they receive from startups; she hopes that Primetime Partners can help providers narrow their efforts, and bring better solutions to market more quickly by shortening the typically long lead time and complicated process of adopting new technology within a senior living enterprise.

Primetime’s dedicated focus on the aging demographic differentiates it from other venture capital firms, but Patricof and Levy are not alone in seeing this opportunity. For example, Initialized Capital — co-founded by Alexis Ohanian of Reddit fame — has an increasing focus on elder tech. Ohanian believes that technology could disrupt the traditional senior living model within the next decade, he told SHN last year.

Levy also can see this as a possibility. She points to how technology has played a role in transforming other types of commercial real estate, such as by contributing to the rise of co-working and new models of retail. A similar process could play out in senior housing. Apartment living with services on demand, senior living providers extending their services into people’s single-family homes via technology, and tech-driven intergenerational living models are among the possibilities that come to mind for Levy, although she believes that even more innovative ideas will also emerge.

“I do think we’re going to see a lot more experimentation and a lot more models,” she said.

But a big part of the challenge is not inventing new types of housing, care or services for older adults, but rather finding more effective ways to engage this generation in the offerings that are already available to enhance their lives and wellness, in Levy’s view.

“The businesses I’ve worked on, between Thrive and SoulCycle, ultimately are about motivating people to take care of themselves,” she said. “Our senior living facilities can have all the offerings and the infrastructure, but if they can’t create relationships with their residents and find a way to motivate them, then all of those programs and assets lie fallow.”

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