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Member Spotlight: Senior65 Launches to Help Seniors Make Sense of Medicare

Shown in the photo are cofounders Eric Scheinbaum (left) and Chris Mihm (right), as well as Mihm’s wife, Wendy Mihm. (Photo courtesy Chris Mihm)

Upon walking into Senior65’s launch party it would appear that the online startup was geared towards millennials—but it is quite the opposite.

Launched on Thursday on the 1776 campus, Senior65 aims to help senior citizens—anyone aged 65 and older—gain a better understanding of Medicare and Medicare insurance. Cofounders Chris Mihm and Eric Scheinbaum have broken down the burdensome process of delving through countless pages of Medicare brochures into three easy steps.

Following the launch, 1776 caught up with Mihm to talk about how Senior65 plans to make purchasing Medicare insurance easier to understand and how they plan to educate a growing demographic.

Congratulations on the launch of Senior65. Can you share some detail on what Senior65 is?

Senior65 is a responsive website that helps seniors quickly navigate Medicare and Medicare insurance. While many people feel overwhelmed at the prospect of figuring out Medicare and what it covers, we have distilled the process down to three easy steps. The site offers step-by-step guides, real-time supplemental insurance quotes and links to applications. Our tagline is “Making Sense of Medicare.”

What does your professional background consist of?

I cofounded Senior65 with my financial advisor and close friend Eric Scheinbaum. Ten years ago he and I started a company called Medicoverage in Los Angeles, California. Medicoverage is a web-based insurance company targeting young people. While Senior65 represents a similar space, the target demographic and selling process is completely new to us. Prior to founding Medicoverage, I was heavily involved in the K-12 education space. I still like to think I have one foot in that field.

Who is on your board of directors?

We currently do not have a Board of Directors. We’ve boot-strapped Senior65 up to now.

What is going to determine the success of your launch?

Our site is up and working so the launch is already successful! We believe it helps to set a deadline on when your site will be available to the public—or you’ll be constantly tweaking it forever. We set our date as January 16 and hosted a fun launch breakfast here just to celebrate and thank the 1776 community for all their support.

Now comes the hard part. We receive a share of revenue from any insurance product that we sell on Senior65. We need to figure out how to acquire new customers for less than they bring in over their lifetime. Bob Dorf came on campus and said most entrepreneurs should be trying to build a machine where you put $1 in and a $1.10 comes out. If you can figure that out, the rest is easy. That’s what we are working on now. We think one key to that is building trust with our customers and creating a long-term relationships.

Every once in a while startups encounter hiccups along the way to success. Has your company faced any obstacles yet? Do you foresee any impediments down the road?

With Senior65 we haven’t had many hiccups yet—but we certainly have in previous ventures. The biggest obstacle to Senior65 is to convince insurance providers that the boomer generation is tech savvy and expects online tools. Some are under the impression that everyone 65 and over live in a paper-only world. We know that there is a large segment of 65-year-olds who have been working on the computer for 20 years and, in retirement, want to navigate their health insurance online as well. With that, we are currently working with a major insurance provider in California to produce one of the first online Medigap applications.

Who is your competition?

Technically, I guess it’s anyone who is selling supplemental Medicare insurance. But with 10,000 seniors turning 65 every single day (for the next 17 years!) we actually believe our competition is all the noise and misinformation out there. Our job is to cut through the noise so our customers can find us and build a relationship with Senior65.

Your mission states that you are targeting, “computer-savvy,” seniors who are 65 and older to help facilitate the process of finding and purchasing senior health insurance online. How exactly do you plan to reach this demographic? Will you be launching an innovative online ad campaign or will you reach them in more traditional ways such as print?

The bulk of seniors will find us through online search and social media. Sixty percent of our target customer is currently on social media—which may explain why young people are moving away from Facebook. Any print advertising that we would do would be part of a larger brand building campaign way down the line.

Is there a relationship, coordination or overlap between Senior65 and Healthcare.gov? Does this conflict in anyway with signup for Affordable Care Act?

Fortunately Healthcare.gov and Affordable Care Act have little direct affect on the over-65 Medicare space. That is part of the appeal.

What kind of resources has your 1776 membership afforded you that you might not have received elsewhere?

The community at 1776 has been very supportive. I remember when I first arrived here at 1776 in June, I was impressed at how people were willing to drop everything to help out. Infield Health sat down to share a ton of local resources. Nonprofit Metrics turned us onto Twitter Bootstrap as we set to build our responsive website. Bloompop has been sharing their successes with Facebook. Talent Insight, Fanaticall and Phone2Action regularly check in on our progress. There are too many to mention and they are all helpful.

I wish we had this type of support when we started our first company. I have also attended many informative drink-and-learn events on campus. Down the line we are very excited to tap into 1776’s more formal offerings and mentors to help us scale quickly. We are very excited to be in D.C. and lucky to be working out of 1776.