Engineers, Entrepreneurs, Gerontechnologists
Donovan: Biomedical Engineering and Psychology
Matt: Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design
Meet Donovan Morrison and Matt Wilcox, cofounders of Chicago-based Luna Lights. Donovan and Matt both attended Northwestern University. Donovan studied Biomedical Engineering and Psychology. Matt studied Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Design. Donovan and Matt met during a program called Design for America, which is focused on tackling problems in the community through human centered design. They participated in their Summer Studio session, where they learned the principles of user research, prototyping, and user testing.
Through spending months within senior living communities via this program Donovan and Matt identified nighttime falls as a major pain point and felt compelled to dive in and create a more effective solution than what was being offered. Discovering the preventable and detrimental nature of falls, the duo began exploring what they could do to solve this problem. Falls are very dangerous to older adults, resulting to 3 million injuries treated in emergency rooms, almost 1 million hospitalizations, and 30,000 deaths. In 2013, falls cost $34 billion in healthcare spend and is expected to rise to almost $70 billion by 2020 (NCOA).
Donovan and Matt discovered their passion for a career in aging by focusing on solving one big, preventable problem. Inspired by their ability to have a large impact, Matt and Donovan created Luna Lights, an innovative small business passionate about preventing falls. Donovan and Matt are passionate about using engineering and design to support independence and safety of older Americans. The cofounders have found that being technology entrepreneurs in the field of aging enables them to have greater impact for a population where innovation is assumed to be a juxtaposition.
Donovan's career advice: "When first starting out, we quickly learned not to make assumptions about aging. Outside of our grandparents neither of us had spent much time with older adults, so we had some pre-conceived thoughts surrounding aging. After our first day of user research, however, it was clear that we needed to eliminate any bias in order to truly understand our users and stakeholders."
Matt's advice: "I would encourage people entering the space for the first time to really spend a LOT of time just observing before leaping to product ideas or solutions. There are many types of people that your business will likely touch in some way, and it's important to intimately know how you will affect each of them. We try hard to provide tangible benefits for each of our stakeholders in order to ensure a great experience for everyone, and have seen that mentality bear a lot of fruit for our business."