When Clara Fernandez began working at her family’s rehabilitation clinic, she had no idea it would take her down the startup path. But after seeing the educational gap seniors had about healthy living, she teamed up with her husband Juan Cartagena to co-found Rosita, a longevity coach for seniors.
In the midst of their app launch, we sat down with Clara (albeit virtually) to ask her a few questions about the longevity sector and her ambitions at Rosita.
What is Rosita?
Rosita is a longevity coach for seniors. Our goal is to help seniors define their longevity strategy for the next ten years. The idea is to help seniors increase their healthy life expectancy, especially knowing and understanding the biology behind their ageing process and how they have to start implementing those actions today with the help of our application.
How would you describe your mission?
We want to increase healthy life expectancy or years full of energy.
That’s a grand vision. Do you, at times, feel like today’s discussion about longevity, at times, emphasises life expectancy over quality of life?
There is a lot of controversy here. Actually, what most of the scientists think is that longevity is increasing healthy life expectancy. Because the only way to increase life expectancy is to delay the diseases related to ageing. It’s about delaying the diseases related to ageing. And because you’re not dying from those diseases, you will live longer and hence healthier.
No one is investigating life extension without reducing disease. They are completely correlated.
You’ve been heads-down working on Rosita for almost a year now. How did you start your journey into longevity?
A decade ago, I started participating in my family’s practice which is focused on back and knee pain rehabilitation. I started realizing that one of the areas that had the most impact in the health of our patients was education. And I realised that even though the healthcare system had evolved in so many ways to treat complicated pathologies, they had not evolved in a way that could teach the patient what was happening to their bodies. This is why, six years ago, I ended up converting the clinic into the Longevity School. Alongside a 20-person staff, we teach more than 500 seniors a day and have had 15,000 seniors stay an average of 10 days in our facilities.
The Longevity School is where we gained all the expertise to build Rosita effectively.
Say I was a 65-year old senior. How would I interact with Rosita?
The first thing we will have you do is a mixture of classes and a doctor assessment. The thing that defines us is that we teach users why things are important. We don’t have a questionnaire where you fill in your data and then we plug you a plan with tasks. We are going to give you a proper longevity educational programme so that you understand the underlying biology behind ageing. Then, we start defining your individualised plan.
You’re going to have a daily and weekly plan of activities that are going to be a combination of classes, activities, and workshops. The main thing here is that we are going to start working on the problems you have today. When we have created the habit to address those problems, we’ll be moving you forward into the field of longevity. This is the wider picture of our strategy.
Rosita designs all its exercise classes in-house, correct?
Yes, we are taping them ourselves. We are defining our own exercise methodology to ensure that we bring science and entertainment together. We have ballet and introduction to Sevillanna. We do karate and crossfit for seniors. We take time to actually map what is interesting to you and what your personal goals are.
I assume designing an app for seniors as a non-senior can be tough. What are some of your main challenges?
The senior market is not a sexy industry for most entrepreneurs. But seniors are a huge market and there are many potential needs to be satisfied. If we are able to solve the technological barriers and engage users actively we could become their fifth app. We joke but they use Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, and the phone app. And maybe they have a sporadic fifth app they don’t really engage with. When they start engaging with us, we have lots of potential.
You just launched Rosita’s coaching app. What are your immediate goals as you gear up for this launch?
Right now, we have created a specific area of exercise for coronavirus. We are launching in collaboration with 100 town halls that want to distribute Rosita to their senior community because they had to close their physical facilities.
So we are planning both an offline launch with all the towns that are participating in the network and an online launch through all the traditional startup press.
For more information, visit holarosita.com