We live in a bubble in Silicon Valley. By this, I mean we often forget that outside of Silicon Valley, the larger population experiences technology differently from us and our neighbors. And this we need to remember when investing in new companies and when starting new businesses focused on consumers, particularly worldwide.
A recent reminder for me was a conversation with my sister-in-law. An East Coaster, quite intelligent, very educated, she asked if I still use that “Errand Bunny” service I previously recommended. After some confusion, I realized she was referring to Task Rabbit, a service for outsourcing small jobs to people in your neighborhood. Sure, Task Rabbit, like Uber, may be a part of our everyday language, but it’s not necessarily familiar to people outside the San Francisco-based tech industry.
Let’s put some numbers around that. One data point: at the September TechCrunch Disrupt event, Mark Zuckerberg told the audience that two-thirds of the world does not have Internet access.
The Internet numbers for the U.S. are higher, yet remain a good reminder that Silicon Valley does not accurately represent the demographics of the larger would-be customers:
65% of US population has broadband, which means the remaining 35% has dial-up or no Internet.
51% of adults bank online, which means that half of adults bank the traditional way of in-person branch and ATM visit.
56% have a smartphone, which means almost half aren’t getting up-to-minute Twitter updates and using apps.
81% of young adults (25-34) own a smartphone while only 18% of adults over 65 own a smartphone — remember the age of the customer, too.
Source: Pew Internet
So both anecdotally and statistically, let’s remember that not everyone in the US — let alone the world — has a smartphone + tablet + desktop/laptop, lives on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, and banks online. Don’t base your customer assumptions on Silicon Valley. On the VC side, we see the less “techy” population outside of Silicon Valley as an opportunity — these are the areas for further growth in consumer services, as well as the underlying Internet infrastructure.