Goody Bag

Seniors and Online Advertising

Senior Tech Training

They've got free time, disposable income and the desire to learn. Add to that the fact that senior citizens are the fastest-growing Internet-user population, according to research firm eMarketer, and you've got a market ripe for the taking.

"It's the beginning of the migration of this population to the Web," says Meredith Taylor, CEO of SeniorSurfers Inc., a Mountain View, California, company that provides computer training to seniors. "We see this as a very big business that's only going to get bigger as the baby boomers become seniors."

Last fall, the company raised $4 million in venture capital to launch three initial locations in the state. The company projects earnings of $2 million in 2001 and plans to expand to several other domestic locations across the country later this year.

While most training acquaints seniors with the Internet and e-mail, Taylor and her 16 employees foresee classes morphing into more advanced training as the population becomes more Web-savvy.

Online Ad Directory

As more people go online, more businesses are turning to online ad-vertising. Web advertising spending nearly doubled in 2000 to $6 billion and is expected to soar to $21 billion by 2004, according to eMarketer. Numbers like these grabbed the attention of Tyler Roye, 34, who in 1996 started in Commack, New York. What began as a spin-off to his Web services company has evolved into a business in its own right with eight employees.

While the Net is global, most business is still local. That's why Roye zeroed in on the Long Island area, where he can build closer relationships. In doing so, he's created a niche in the local directory market.

Most of the directory's $200,000-plus revenue last year was generated from banner ads and corporate sponsorships. Roye attracts customers by adding features that keep relevant and valuable, like classified ads and a keyword search matrix. Keeping the site fresh has been so effective, Roye expects's run rate of $30,000 per month to leap to $100,000 by year-end.

Want more ideas on how to start an Internet business? Check out Got Net?

Andrea C. Poe is a Washington, DC-based writer who specializes in small-business, management and human resources issues.

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This article was originally published in the May 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Goody Bag.

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