Spotlight: UF Innovate Collaboratory for Women Innovators Helps Florida Woman Empower People of All Ages to Navigate Technology with Ease
Keeping up with technology can be a challenge even for those who use it on a day-to-day basis. Older adults often face additional challenges in a world that is increasingly dependent on new forms of technology.
Ming Yang is a 25-year-old from Florida who serves as a caregiver for her mother. She is often called upon to help navigate the online world of health insurance, completing necessary applications.
“My mother didn’t know how to use her computer and emails and upload documents,” Yang said. “That’s when I realized that, in this day and age, not knowing how to use computers in whatever capacity means not really experiencing and moving forward in life.”
Yang reasoned that if her mother needed technology assistance, there were probably other senior adults in the same situation.
After graduating from the University of Florida (UF) with an engineering degree, Yang sought help with her idea. She received critical business advise from the UF Innovate Collaboratory for Women Innovators, an Economic Development Administration University Center program, and she received seed money from entering – and winning 2nd place – in the UF Engineering Institute’s “Big Idea” competition.
In 2018, Yang founded Orchard, a technology company with an emphasis on hospitality. Its mission is to repairs tech devices while teaching senior citizens how to use them.
Orchard employees, known as Techies, provide virtual one-on-one tech support and training to hundreds of clients. However, the support isn’t just one-sided.
“Sometimes even saying (the word) customers is weird,” Yang said. “It feels more personal than that.” She adds that as much as the clients gain information on the latest devices and tech-based consumer products, the Techies learn from the clients about life, relationships, and career choices.
Orchard’s client base has grown from a handful of people to hundreds of clients not only in Florida but across the country. It has proven so successful that Yang has appeared on both the Kelly Clarkson Show and KTLA News in Los Angeles, discussing this unique and innovative program.
To learn more, please visit the Orchard website.