In the past couple of years, social networking and other web 2.0 advancements have brought about rapid change to the face of the internet. Many of the innovations came from dorm room developers – typically a couple of young guys with no overhead, lots of free time, tech savvy and an idea. I have no doubt that future innovations will come from this demographic, but I think the next big thing could be silverpreneurs.
Silver surfers, variously described as internet users age 50 plus, 55 plus or 60 plus, make up a growing percentage of internet users. As the number of silver surfers grow, so too will the need for sites and services that cater to their needs. Who better to develop an offering for silver surfers, than someone who is in their age group?
Most internet startups have very little overhead, and as silver surfers retire from their day jobs, they will have more free time to devote to nurturing new business ideas. While tech savvy may have been a limiting factor in the past, the increase of over 50’s online increases the chances for a silverpreneur with the right skills to have the right idea at the right time.
Already, there are several niche social networking sites dedicated to silver surfers such as eons.com and the UK-based Saga Zone. Eons.com CEO Jeff Taylor, founder of 90’s internet success story monster.com, estimates that there are 49 million online boomers.
In Britain, one quarter of people online are 50 or over, accounting for 30% of the total time spent online. Silvers surf a lot. UK communications regulator Ofcom has estimated that the over 65’s surf for 42 hours per month – four more than those in the 18-24 year old demographic. This increase in silver surfers cuts across income levels.
Over 50’s have already been shown to be entrepreneurial. More than five million American over 50 are self employed, according to the AARP. This accounts for 40% of the self-employed workforce in the U.S.
With the current economic climate and more people looking for ways to earn money into their retirement years, it’s only a matter of time before silverpreneurs bring on a new generation of successful internet startups.