The Palm Beach Petri Dish

The Honor announcement ironically coincided with my trip to Grandparent Land (Passover). Which got me thinking: why is Palm Beach County not one of the top launch zones for the on-demand economy?

Yes, having grandchildren doesn’t make geriatrics your smartphone poster children. That said, I think the pros outweigh the cons.

The pros:

  • Captive audience — The 6 degrees of separation principle is multiples too big for Palm Beach. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone shops at the same stores. Everyone eats at the same restaurants. Everyone reads the same newspaper. The target group, and the way to reach them, is as black and white as the Palm Beach Post.
  • Strong word of mouth — Between the bridge table and the golf course, startup awareness should spread like wild fire.
  • Disabled consumers — That can be enabled by on-demand services. Many can’t drive, lift heavy things, or like to leave their homes. From a mental standpoint, they are the ideal on-demand customer. This also makes them relatively price insensitive.
  • Wanting their grandchildren to think they’re cool — My Seder table could not stop one-upping each other with startups that they’ve read about and new apps that they’ve downloaded. Baby boomers are (apparently) one of the fastest demographics online.
  • Having children & grandchildren who they contact incessantly — Imagine getting a call from your grandma and she tells you about this new on-demand service that she is using. And now imagine not having that service in the city you live in. As soon as it comes, you’re going to want in. Can’t have grandma beating you at the tech game.
  • Recurring usage — This demographic hates change. Once you have their credit card and their trust, they’re not leaving. Case study: My grandparents still pay $14.95/month for AOL. Once again: $14.95/month for AOL. Because it takes a second to process: $14.95/month for AOL. Apparently this still buys you something (weak use of the word something).
  • Validating another demographic — If you have the twenty-something-hooded-SF-tech-natives and the senior-citizens-who-were-born-before-TV on your platform, you’ve got something.
  • Unsaturated market — “What? I actually have to go to the supermarket? The closest car is 15 minutes away? You have to go pick up your order from the restaurant?” These are the thoughts that race through my head every time I leave the Bay Area (/step into reality). Theoretically, if this post takes off, I-95 will soon have startup billboards. To give credit, some companies (namely Uber), have already planted their flag. But, in the meantime, it’s complete whitespace. You have people’s undivided attention, unused memory on their smartphones, and unused real estate on their home screens.

One night, we went to light the grill and realized we were out of propane. My grandpa’s sister is the proud grandmother of the Postmates Goddess. So much to her chagrin, she noted that there is no Postmates in Palm Beach County. Blowing minds, I went over to Magic. $80 and 2 hours to deliver a tank of propane. I was met with a resounding “that’s so reasonable.”

See, that’s exactly it. Everything “on-demand” to this demographic is magic.

An email that @sm’s grandma sent mine

Originally published at on April 20, 2015.

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