By Eveline Pupeter, CEO of emporia Telecom
How many everyday tasks do you carry out that require the use of a smartphone? Nowadays, everything from ticketing and transport to banking and retail requires competent use of a smartphone, so how do our elderly friends and relatives cope in a world saturated with smartphones that they struggle to use?
My mission has always been simple; to ensure older people are not left behind as we enter the digital future. As the world becomes increasingly hard to navigate without a smartphone, and with smart technology expanding into every aspect of our lives, we cannot risk leaving those without the use of such devices excluded. Therefore, I feel we are responsible as a society for making this technology accessible to our older generation, and this is my primary motivation.
I’m the CEO behind emporia Telecom, a company with a mission to digitally connect and empower people over the age of 65 through simplified telecommunications. We have delivered assistive technology products for over 30 years now, and have sold a total of 18million devices to date, ranging between smartphones, tablets, feature phones and landlines.
You may be shocked to know that there are over 40 million over-65s who are excluded from the world of smartphones across Europe. The negative effects of this became increasingly apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. As physical interaction halted and we relied on technology, a huge group of seniors were left isolated and disconnected from loved ones. Without the right tech and know-how, simple actions that are ingrained in everyday life for young people such as video calls were not accessible to this group. The absence of smart technology also made online shopping for groceries and ordering prescriptions difficult or impossible for large segments of this age group.
During my journey with emporia I have learnt and achieved so much. From this experience, I have developed a formula for success that I hope can inspire your own journey as an entrepreneur.
My first tip to reaching success is to never become complacent. Don’t stop questioning things, this is the only way that you can be certain you are serving the end user to the highest standard. This helps me make sure I am sticking to my original mission, and prevents me from losing sight of my goals. Next, it is so important to be brave and believe in both yourself and your company and to hold on your targets even in a crisis like Covid-19 or the war in Ukraine. My final tip is to define and work to a core set of values. I lead emporia on three key principles which I believe are all essential to achieving success: respect, discipline, and competence. If something doesn’t satisfy each of these principles, I know I need to find a new solution.
The challenges faced by woman is business are the very reasons that make your mission as a female entrepreneur worth it. In the telecommunications space especially, there are few female CEOs and business leaders, however I feel that I have learnt to hold my own in an industry that is largely dominated by men. In Europe, however, I am in good company with two amazing women: Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, who is the political head of over 450 million EU citizens and Christine Lagarde, head of the ECB, who is responsible for a balance sheet volume of 569 billion euros.
The world population continues to age. Meaning that by the year 2051 around ten billion people will populate this planet, more than two billion of which will be over 60 years old. I believe that communications technology will leap further forward, and it is highly possible that smartphones will no longer exist, with our transactions and dialogues made via wearables or other such gadgets. By this time, I believe that the issue of a digital divide will be a distant thought and seniors will be well-versed in the use of this technology.
Though we can’t see the future, in the next thirty years we plan to be a world market leader for simple ageless communication, and to have closed the generational digital divide. By sticking to our mission and continuing to empower older users, I believe we will do so. My motto for life and business is: “failure is not an option.”