Launching Freebird Club—social travel for over 50s


Launching Freebird Club—social travel for over 50s

Words Founders Factory

May 10th 2023 / 3 min read

The problem

Our society is getting older—with over 2.1 billion people over the age of 60 by 2050. One of the principal challenges associated with ageing is loneliness. Over 40% of adults over the age of 65 regularly feel lonely.

The economic impact of this is vast. Loneliness among Americans aged 65+ costs the US Government around $7 billion in additional health care costs per year; in the UK, it costs £6k per person for a decade of an older person’s life in health-related costs.

Travel can be a simple but effective tonic for loneliness (especially when it comes with opportunities to meet new people), and is a leading aspiration for those approaching or over retirement age. But many people perceive a big social barrier to travelling, not having anyone to go with and lacking the confidence to travel alone. Existing travel options are short on the social side: even homestays are often overly transactional.

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The solution

Freebird Club is a peer-to-peer social travel and homestay club for older adults. Sitting at the intersection of traveltech and agetech, where the silver economy meets the sharing economy, Freebird will enable and empower members to travel, chat, meet, and stay with each other, as part of a trusted over 50s community.

Members pay a subscription, through which they can access the Freebird platform in order to connect with like-minded locals for 1) travel tips & recommendations, 2) meet-ups to do things together, 3) accommodation via homestays.

Freebird’s social club model (built around community and connecting older, like-minded individuals) means that it complements and enhances, rather than competes with, existing providers like Airbnb and Saga.

Freebird recently received a £333k grant from Innovate UK as part of their Healthy Ageing Challenge.

The team

Peter Mangan (Founder & CEO)

Peter has over 20 years’ experience in management across a range of sectors, from financial services to music to academia. Prior to founding the first version of Freebird Club in 2016, he worked as a Senior Manager for Research & Innovation at University College Dublin. He was also a coach for the European Commission’s ‘European Social Innovation Competition’, having been a former winner.

Phil Jordan (CTO & Co-founder)

Phil has over 20 years experience as a tech entrepreneur working as CTO, CMO, CXO and CEO of various start-ups in e-commerce, ML, mobile apps and WiFi. Phil founded and ran, taking it to acquisition by one of the world's largest travel brands.

Why we’re excited to launch Freebird

Lizzie Hindocha, sector director for Mission Studio, says: “Peter's vision for the business is extremely compelling—a world in which older people empower each other to go see the world, and see it as their oyster—and has attracted plenty of great press, a significant UKRI grant, and a fantastic team including co-founder Phil. Over the next months, we will be supporting the Freebird Club in building up its engaged and supportive user community. Our impact end goal here is to prevent and reduce loneliness in the older population, whose world often shrinks as they age. The Freebird Club shows that there is another way, and we're here for that.”

What Freebird wants to get out of the programme

  • Access to cross-ranging expertise and support in evolving our start-up strategy, product, marketing, talent, and fundraising - and generally helping us set up for success.

  • Plug in to a dynamic startup ecosystem which can be a fast-track to investors and partners, while raising our credibility and providing access to a high quality network. 

  • Boost our commercial acumen and market intelligence. Help us de-risk the venture and make it as attractive and compelling as possible to all potential stakeholders.

  • Connections to other founders who are on the same journey, and those who have done this before, from whom we can learn and share knowledge.

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