fbpx

Geoff Hanson, 64: Stay in the Game

Just do it: see a problem, find a solution.  In his 60s, with no previous experience in the field, Geoff Hanson built a company that helps people stay sporty at any age. He discusses doing what he loves, working with an ex professional athlete, and the "infectious enthusiasm" of his younger colleagues. 

The difference between an entrepreneur and other perhaps more sane people is that when they see a problem, their minds immediately go to what the solution could be. That, combined with a fearless sense of what is possible, is why they create businesses. In our experience, this drive is age-agnostic. Although the news tends to be filled with the 20-something wunderkinds, there is considerable evidence that the people over 50 do a much better job at actually being successful. 

Geoff saw a problem: people his age have knees that tend to ache, and need a bit of support. His solution was not to accept this; rather, he created a company around the idea that there could be a helpful garment to allow people to stay in the game, be that hiking, biking or skiing. He had zero experience in making anything like this, and took on the challenge of the near-vertical learning curve. We have brains and, if we choose to, we can learn pretty much anything. 

Starting a company at any age requires herculean force of will, a good product, and considerable luck. Geoff shows us that, at age 64, he is doing just that and bringing us a product with considerable utility. What are the problems out there that could use your solution and how would you go about it? 

Geoff Hanson, imbrace

How old are you?
64.

Where do you live?
In a quiet village with a pub and duck pond called Leighterton in Gloucestershire in the South Cotswolds about 15 miles north of Bath, UK.

Tell us about your family: wife, kids, relationship?
I’ve been married to Emily for 31 years in April. I can’t imagine my life without her.

We had two sons: Sam and Darcy. We lost Sam to suicide in September 2018. He would have been 26 next month. Darcy finished university recently and is working to save to travel. He wants to visit volcanoes in Indonesia. (He missed out on doing it before uni following the loss of his brother). 

Why are you starting a company at this age?
I’ve asked myself that a lot in the last eighteen months. But age has nothing to do with it. I like a challenge and need to be busy. 

I like the idea of producing something that helps others. 

“[Imbrace] products are all about supporting individuals to keep exercising as long as possible”

What is the nature of the company?
Imbrace is a wellbeing brand — aimed at people my age. The products are all about supporting individuals to ‘stay in the game’ — keep exercising as long as possible. Supporting users to keep doing what they love.

What are the specific needs that these products address?
We focus on support for the lower limbs; namely, knees and hips. They also help with posture and alignment, giving users confidence to get out there and stay active. They also reduce fatigue so you don’t feel beat up when you’ve pushed yourself. 

“Sore knees? Imbrace them!”

Geoff Hanson, imbrace
Geoff working on his Imbrace leggings.

Do these come from a personal need on your part?
Yes. I haven’t been kind to my knees. I played rugby into my mid-20s and only ‘retired’ when I dislocated a knee. My other knee has a chronic ligament issue brought on by my pursuit of a Taekwondo blackbelt. I’d set the goal of getting it before I turned 50 (missed it by three months) but my foolish determination to wear a black belt meant that I ignored the knee and now I’m paying the price. 

What sort of problems did you come up against in developing the product and starting the company?
My eureka moment came in the gym just before Covid locked us down. I used the time to collect ideas, sketch out and refine a ‘product,’ and work on a plan. 

I studied 3D design at college in Bristol, UK. One of the other courses at the college was fashion and I’d stayed in touch with a couple fellow students who’d been on the course. They’ve offered invaluable advice and introductions.  

“Working with an ex professional athlete makes you realize why they are a cut above us mere mortals”

Geoff Hanson, imbrace
Photograph By Jordan McGibney.

You worked with Chemmy Alcott; what was that process like?
Absolutely fantastic. Working with an ex professional athlete makes you realize why they are a cut above us mere mortals. As a mutual friend says, she’s a force of nature; she only has two speeds: Stop and Full. 

What did you do before?
I was a property developer for 18 years.

Who are your heroes?
My dad. He was a fighter pilot in the USAF and was a great storyteller. He exposed my brother and I to some fantastic experiences growing up. We interred him at Arlington in May 2022; a special day.

Also, Yvon Chouinard. His book Let My People Go Surfing should be required reading when you start a business. 

Geoff Hanson, imbrace
Imbrace leggings in action.

How does your age help and hinder your business?
I’m not sure either. Starting a business at any age is tough. I’m probably not as prone to optimism as I used to be (that’s an age thing). It’s been a vertical learning ‘curve’ with no signs of leveling off — like being strapped into a rocket and lighting the blue touch paper! I don’t think age has been a barrier at all. Everyone I work with day to day is 25 years younger. Their energy and enthusiasm is infectious. 

“Starting a business at any age is tough”

What sort of athletics are you doing?
I go to the gym a couple of times a week. Mountain bike in the countryside around me most weekends and do a lot of walking. There are some good walks that take in some great scenery with a stop at a pub for lunch. 

What are your personal ambitions for the next 5 years?
Stay in touch with friends and make the effort to see them. It’s far too easy for things to drift — before you know it, it’s been 10 years.

Build Imbrace into a brand that is known for quality and innovation. I’d love to build a community of hundreds of thousands of users who ‘stay in the game’ because of what I do.

Go at least one place I’ve never been before each year. 

Improve my foreign language skills. I speak French and German just about well enough to get by but I’d like to be able to converse better and with confidence.

Live the summer on a Greek Island. 

“I’d love to build a community of hundreds of thousands who ‘stay in the game’ because of what I do”

Geoff Hanson, imbrace

What sort of music are you listening to?
I have a pretty broad taste. I have playlists on Spotify that cover Classic Rock (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Bad Company, etc.), Jazz, R&B, Classic (especially Mozart & Elgar). My newest playlist is newer bands: The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age, Killers, etc. gahanson917 is my Spotify playlist handle. Open to all.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
There’s a house on the island of Meganisi in Greece that is a piece of paradise. Perfect house, gardens, and location. Nice taverna 5 minutes down the road, too. 

I’d spend the day looking after the garden, watching the boats go by and reading. I’d visit the taverna each day for morning coffee and baclava. 

Geoff Hanson, imbrace

Starting the Day

How do you start your day?
I wake up early. I like to get up and get on. 4:00 am isn’t unusual, especially during the summer. I go down and feed the cat and have a cup of tea. I like English Breakfast or Assam first thing. Strong but milky.

This time of year, I’ll read. In the spring and summer, I like to sit out on the terrace and watch the world wake up. I have a really cool app called Merlin Bird ID on my phone that listens to the birdsong and identifies who’s singing —it’s brilliant. It’s surprising how often you hear them but can’t see them.

At 7:15 sharp I make another cup of tea for myself and one for Emily: lemon and sliced ginger in hot water. We sit in bed and drink our tea, watch the news and chat about plans for the new day until 7:45. 

Describe what your weekends are like.
I used to be away every other weekend from May to October, racing. But I’ve stopped now. (Not certain I’ve retired, though.)

This time of year, we plan our day to watch Six Nations Rugby or light the fire and read the Saturday papers. Spring and summer weekends, Emily and I will spend time in the garden; it’s a shared passion. Sunday might be a walk with friends to a pub (and back) or a mountain bike ride. We have some fantastic trails virtually on our doorstep. 

What are 3 non-negotiables in your life?
That’s a tough one as I’m a pretty pragmatic person. I actually like to negotiate other views.

If pushed I’d probably keep it simple and say:

Treat everyone with courtesy and respect, always be fair to others, and stay curious — but I’m open to negotiation on all three. 

Connect with Geoff:
LinkedIn
Imbrace

Main image by Jordan McGibney of Hexe Digital.

See medical disclaimer below. ↓

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

AUTHOR

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

 

Sign up for AGEIST today
We will never sell or give your email to others. Get special info on Diet, Exercise, Sleep and Longevity.

Recommended Articles

MORE ARTICLES

LATEST IN HEALTH SCIENCE

X