Inspired to end loneliness among older people, UK-based The Joy Club raises €1.3 million for its community-based platform

Co-designed by a team of retirees and inspired by one adventurous granny, UK-based The Joy Club was founded in 2019 to tackle loneliness amongst older people. The community-based platform is designed to help retirees discover events, passions and friendships that will enrich their lives. 

Google Maps co-founder Lars Rasmussen has invested in the round, alongside Calm/Storm Ventures, Alma Angels, and other notable angel investors. Elvie founder and CEO Tania Boler and Elvie co-founder Alexander Asseily (also the founder of Jawbone and Vice Chairman at Lilium), have also backed the start-up.

In addition, Jane Reddin, Talent Director at AlbionVC, and speaker at this year’s EU-Startups Summit, is advising and backing the team. 

Hannah Thomson came up with the idea for The Joy Club after being inspired by her granny, Jean. The inspiring lady used her retirement to go solo backpacking around New Zealand, she picked up painting, volunteered in Bulgaria, and even married her high school sweetheart. 

Jean certainly shows that there’s plenty of life post-retirement, but, sadly, for many retirees, this experience isn’t always the same. Loneliness is reaching epidemic status amongst older people and it’s believed that in the UK, 1.4 million older adults feel lonely – a figure only expected to increase. In addition, it’s thought that 40% of retirees consider the television to be their main companion. 

Enter The Joy Club. Hannah developed the agetech startup to create a community for retirees based around shared experiences, a place to share the joy.

Founder CEO of The Joy Club, Hannah Thomson, commented: “My Granny Jean found retirement to be the most joyful and socially connected time of her life, but few are as lucky. Stopping work can be a cliff edge for many people; your routines are stripped away and lots struggle with recalibrating their identity, despite having lots of living left to do. That’s what The Joy Club is here to solve. We want to create the community, inspiration and opportunity people need to thrive in later life.” 

The UK has around 9 million retirees who use the internet, representing a huge and growing market opportunity for tech-enabled solutions catering to this demographic. The Joy Club offers this community access to over 50 events per month for a £5 monthly subscription fee. These include art classes, dance lessons, live music events, talks and lectures, fitness sessions, creative writing workshops, and many more. Members can also access a private community area, where they can foster friendships and receive daily content and articles.

Hannah Thomson continued: “The average person will spend one-fifth of their life in retirement and yet 65% of retirees feel ignored by consumer brands. To date, the tech and startup sector in particular has chronically overlooked this big, growing and important section of the market. It’s time to do better and create products specifically designed for this amazing demographic. We’re thrilled that this esteemed group of investors shares our excitement for the space and is backing The Joy Club as we work to grow our community and help even more retirees live joyfully.”

The Joy Club team, having launched the platform in beta in December 2020, used the last year to gain an in-depth understanding of what this demographic wants from a community – conducting research and development with over 5,000 members. 

This fresh funding will allow The Joy Club to continue spreading the joy. It will be used to build out its community features to better support member engagement and make it easier for users to make online and offline connections. The funding will also be used to scale the community, helping tackle loneliness and ensuring more people can enjoy a joyful retirement. Over 100 retirees played a role in designing the platform and their thousands of members take an active role in guiding its evolution – making sure the product fulfils the needs of target users and caters to a broad spectrum of digital literacy. 

Lucanus Polagnoli, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Calm/Storm Ventures, added: “We strongly believe that fostering social connections and being part of a community is a critical factor in living healthier lives. And as our society ages, being able to stay mentally and physically well is becoming more important than ever. That’s why we’re backing Hannah on her journey to make retirement better for a growing but underserved customer base. We believe there’s a huge market potential for an agetech brand that doesn’t speak down to or infantilize its audience but is making the most of their digital skills and spending power.”