Charles de Vilmorin is CEO of Washington-based Linked Senior Inc.
“OUR MISSION is to enhance the lives of residents of senior communities by easing access to entertainment and information,” says the French native Charles de Vilmorin, who together with friend and fellow Frenchman Hervé Roussel in the summer of 2007 created the Washington-based company Linked Senior, Inc. Recently, their work was covered in an article in The Washington Post.
“THE ARTICLE helped us greatly by putting the word out and still brings a lot of credibility and legitimacy to the story of the company. Linked Senior receives many requests from potential customers or partners and support messages for the mission of the company,” notes de Vilmorin.
WITH THEIR TEAM, they have developed a service that revolutionizes how the members of the 60-plus generation spends their time and helps facilities provide quality activities to their residents.
“BY OPENING up their everyday settings to the world and fostering social communities, Linked Senior provides seniors a means to stay active, connected and engaged,” adds de Vilmorin.
THE SERVICE WAS designed in partnership with local communities such as the McLean-based Vinson Hall Retirement Community. Charles de Vilmorin tells how it works:
“Pulled by the needs and requirements of residents and facility staff, the service was designed over the course of two years and is elderly-friendly, simple and fun. Linked Senior allows people to download music, news or audio entertainment from a menu tailored to their interests. It involves three components:
• The Player: The Linked Senior Player is the first MP3 player designed for seniors. It is simple and straightforward to operate.
• The Kiosk: The Linked Senior Kiosk is designed with ease-of-use for older adults in mind. Its operating system and its peripheral equipment have been carefully tailored to meet the needs of older adults.
• The Content: The current selection contains about 63,000 audio pieces and is continuously updated with audio books, talk shows, radio shows, music, audio emails, news, cooking lessons, games and more.
FURTHERMORE, Charles de Vilmorin says that Linked Senior will soon offer image, video, audio emails and other features pertaining to the needs of residents in senior communities. He continues: “We are growing geographically based on requests, and are now focusing in the U.S., and have plans for selected European countries for mid 2010.”
BOTH DE VILMORIN AND ROUSSEL had prior American business experience, having worked here for more than ten years combined. Nonetheless they learned what it is to launch a company in a foreign country, and the long standing idea was found to be true: the process is fairly simple. The entity was created in 15 minutes online, and a lot of the administrative steps were simple and easy.
THEY FOUND THAT the main disadvantage of creating a business far away from home was to recreate a whole new professional network, even though they already had one in France. “However, our experience in dealing with cultural differences proved to be easier than we expected,” says de Vilmorin. He adds that “generally speaking, doing business in the U.S. is fun and a lot easier than expected. People tend to be open minded, and always take the time to listen, which is very important for entrepreneurs.”
MR. DE VILMORIN, 29, attended American University in Washington, D.C. as part of a program with Dauphine University in Paris six years ago. While working as a consultant, he began a master’s degree at Georgetown University in the field of communication culture and technology. Influenced by French philosopher Michel Foucault’s critical studies of closed communities, de Vilmorin became interested in retirement communities, especially after his grandmother entered one outside Paris.
HE NOW HOLDS a Master’s Degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University, a Master’s Degree in International Management from Dauphine University, Paris and a BBA Hon’s in European Management from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.
MR. ROUSSEL arrived in the U.S. as a student to study computer science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has since then lived and worked in San Francisco and Philadelphia. He graduated in 2005 with a Masters of Computer Science from Cornell University. Roussel has worked for several companies, developing intuitive and user-friendly software. Most notably at Siemens Medical Solutions, he was part of the team that developed applications for doctors and hospital staff who need to access critical decisions and make critical decisions within a few seconds.
In his last experience before starting Linked Senior, he was project manager for a large consumer base project on one of the Computer Associates security teams.
“WE MET HERE in Washington over a discussion about entrepreneurship and decided to team up quickly after in April 2007,” says Charles de Vilmorin.