These are areas to watch in the future.
Boomers heading for the city: If you're seeking an affluent, concentrated market, get ready to embrace the growing number of city slickers. According to Property & Portfolio Research Inc. and Reed Construction Data, urban high-rises and condos are sprouting up all over--this year, there were 18,586 new condos in Miami alone and 10,875 in San Diego--combining luxurious amenities with the convenience of downtown living. Career-minded boomers looking to downsize their living spaces are a natural fit. "The rising cost of fuel, length of commutes and desire to live more efficiently are driving baby boomers to urban centers," says Richard Swerdlow, CEO of Condo.com . So entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the population shift should focus on marketing their wares and services to successful city dwellers. --L.T.
Boomer staffing: As the oldest of the 77 million U.S. boomers begin retiring, their open positions will offer younger boomers new opportunities. Smart executive recruiting firms will target these seasoned workers. Allen Gutterman, founder and president of professional-level staffing firm Response Companies, expects this playing field to ripen in a few years. But Stephanie Klein, 39, has pioneered this arena. Her Denver-based staffing firm, The Boomer Group , has placed more than 1,500 boomers in positions since 2004. --L.T.
Mobile content: Everything from web browsers to digital music libraries are squeezing down to cell phone size. All that content doesn't just automatically appear--someone has to provide it in a form that fits the particular demands of the phone or PDA. Mobile content is a tricky business to dive into. Ring tones are pass� and gaming has been slow to catch on, but messaging and video services are ready for growth. Market intelligence firm iSuppli sees the premium mobile content market hitting more than $44 billion in 2011, largely on the strength of video. That means it's a good time for entrepreneurs to crank up their market savvy and get involved in mobile content. --A.C.K.
Kids and Teens
Regardless of where their money comes from, some of the country's biggest spenders are barely out of grammar school. Tweens (ages 8 to 14) have a combined annual purchasing power of more than $40 billion, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. And spending by and for their teenage siblings (up to age 17) is expected to reach nearly $209 billion by 2011.
Today's kids have grown up in a booming marketplace of technology, entertainment and stimulation, says Ronald Hill, marketing professor at Villanova University, "so they're easily bored and seek multiple forms of external excitement." He and other experts see them filling that need with cell phones, computers, music, movies, dining out, designer-label clothing and accessories. And anything online (think Webkinz), with a name brand (Olsen twins, anyone?) or an association with teeny-bopper celebs (a la High School Musical) has an edge with these increasingly pop culture-savvy kids.
For more on marketing to kids with deep pockets, check out the "Babes in Cyberland" article in this issue. --L.H.
Years on the list: 2 out of 21
College Planning Consultants
When we say college students are hot, we don't mean the girls of Delta Gamma or the guys of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. We mean that the more than 17 million students who apply to college every year are a hot market for entrepreneurs.
Thanks to the complex application process, more students applying to multiple schools, skyrocketing tuition fees and parents in desperate need of information, there aren't enough high school counselors to keep up--the National Association for College Admission Counseling reports a 315 to 1 student to counselor ratio. "Given the challenges families face, there's tremendous growth potential for advising college-bound students," says Monisha Perkash, 33, co-founder with Paul Wrubel of San Mateo, California, TuitionCoach.com , which provides college-planning consulting services.
That demand has prompted an entire industry of college-planning consultants, specialized tutors, application experts, financial planners, publications and networking sites "all geared toward helping incoming students find the college of their choice and succeed once there," says Justin Baer, creator of college-prep DVD Cracking College . He points out that today's parents are willing to pay top dollar to help their children succeed.
Although Perkash agrees--families spend $5 billion annually researching and applying to colleges--she sees affordable college admissions and funding advice as an untapped area. Sites like hers--which expects six-figure sales this year--can tap that market at no cost to the customer. Now if only college were free. --L.H.
High School Athletes
Aside from touchdowns, home runs and photo finishes, a lot is happening in high school sports. With more than 7 million participants, high school athletics is a hot market that's scoring big for entrepreneurs.
"The demographic is compelling: young, influential and impressionable with big spending power and developing brand loyalties," says Jim Kaufman, CEO of Rise , a national teen sports magazine. The market has seen lots of recent activity: a growing number of participants, including female athletes; a move toward mainstream media, with the likes of ESPN, MTV and NBC featuring high school sports programming; the emergence of more national events like all-star games and camps; the increase in networking with sites like Sportsvite.com and Takkle.com ; and the recognition of a wider variety of sports, including lacrosse, running and soccer.
All this serves up opportunity in everything high school sports-related, including injury management, transportation services, apparel, sport- and gender-specific products, recruiting, networking and more. So whatever area you specialize in, you're bound to make the team. --L.H.
Tech Training & Enrichment Courses
In today's digital age, it's not uncommon to see a second grade class glued to computer screens or little Johnny toting a laptop. As kids become more tech savvy at shockingly young ages, educators continue looking for standard yet individualized ways to implement new technology, and parents are looking toward advanced tutoring and supplemental education--a market projected to hit $28 billion by the 2008 school year.
George Cigale, founder and CEO of $10 million Tutor.com in New York City, points to specific opportunities in online and on-demand tutoring, as well as educational games and software. Says Cigale, 39, "If an entrepreneur can create educational [content] that connects kids, challenges them and makes learning fun, they'll have parents and principals lining up." --L.H.