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Leisure aspirations

Mon., Oct. 22, 2007

As the nation’s roughly 78 million baby boomers hit retirement age, two North Idaho entrepreneurs want to help them find leisure activities to fill newly discovered free time.

Their startup company, Decision Time Tools Inc. of Rathdrum, offers a free, online tool that matches fresh retirees with some of about 1,200 recreational, volunteer and part-time work opportunities that might satisfy them. Principals Wes Du Charme, a psychology Ph.D, and Kent McArthur hope to generate revenues through online advertising and by licensing their software to financial-planning firms.

“Usually people can think of other folks, if not themselves, that this would be useful for,” said Du Charme, 68, who used his background in psychological experiments to design the 12-question survey used to find potential matches.

“We’re hoping to help people with retiring successfully, as Wes and I have done ourselves,” said McArthur, 66, the author of a self-help book. “We see it more as reinventing yourself rather than retiring.”

Possible activities range from clowning to ice dancing and geocaching, hunting for treasure with Global Positioning System equipment.

“Humans are a very creative species, and they do many different things,” Du Charme said. “We find out almost every day about some new kind of activity.”

The online survey, open to people of all ages, asks participants to rank personal needs, such as for adventure, competition and mental challenges. The tool then searches the activity database and offers potential pastimes. Users may submit new activities to the database, so it should continue growing and help Decision Time stay ahead of future competition, Du Charme said.

“It’s not the kind of tool that’s going to be 100 percent correct in terms of your interests, or even your skills, but it is correct in terms of needs that it satisfies, so you kind of have to pick and choose from what comes up,” McArthur said.

About 100 people participated in a beta test, Du Charme said. The company has received help from Connect Northwest’s Springboard program and Sirti.

“I think they’re in a unique space,” said Dennis Leidall, executive director of Connect Northwest.

Decision Time Tools uses Google AdSense to display advertisements correlating to users’ activities.

More financial institutions are shifting their focus from financial advice to “life counseling,” and the principals envision such companies paying to allow clients access to the tool, Du Charme said.

He and McArthur hope to raise $2 million in venture funding. So far, they’ve spent about $50,000 of their own money on the project.

Du Charme and McArthur met about three years ago through a barbershop singing group.

“You don’t usually have people (in) that age group coming to Springboard or starting a company, so I think that says a lot,” Leidall said.

The company could create other similar tools for the retiring Boomer demographic, McArthur said.

“I get frustrated when I talk to people who just continue to work, not because they need the money or because they enjoy the job, but because they don’t know what else they would do,” an issue dealt with in psychological research, McArthur said. “We really feel like we’re filling an important need or solving an important problem with this leisure-time tool, and that’s what has us excited.”


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