modern technology

A Startup can grow without targeting the Digital Natives first.

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I am 50 years old and I have always been passionate about new technologies. I've been buying on Amazon since 1998 and have owned just about every type of high-tech product on the market over the last three decades. However, in the last 10 years, I've seen the rapid adoption of Internet-related technologies by the Digital Natives, those young consumers who were born in the 80's/90's and have always known the Internet. I feel a bit out of step with the trends that are being set by them ...

I appreciate communication tools but I don't share my private life on Facebook. I love taking pictures but I don't feel the need to share every moment of my life on Instagram. I like Twitter but I don't find the time, several times a day, to tell interesting things in 140 signs. Of course, I still use these tools because they bring me a lot, especially in my job as an entrepreneur. It's an established fact: members of Generation X (born between 1960 and 1981) come to use services that were not originally designed for them. Some of these services have indeed become unavoidable for everyone after having been adopted en masse by the Digital Natives. According to the Pew Research Center, Facebook's penetration rate among 50-65 year olds has increased from 20 to 65% in the last 5 years (it was already 80% for the Digital Natives 5 years ago).

Entrepreneurs who have developed Startups for Digital Natives have been very adept at exploiting their behaviour. Because this generation, which values free services, is ready to abandon any notion of confidentiality or security of their personal data, some companies have thus proposed free products that aggregate masses of personal data in the Cloud, and generate significant revenues thanks to targeted advertising.

But you can be very successful on the web without targeting young people. I am the CEO of a startup that has designed a password and e-wallet manager used by more than 3 million people worldwide. The average age of our users is over 40, which is quite unique for an Internet company. We are in the process of massively developing this business based on a new paradigm. Our product is being adopted firstly by members of Generation X, and secondly by other segments of the population. Users over the age of 40 are indeed more sensitive to the security and confidentiality of their personal data. They are willing to adopt services that address these issues, even if it means paying for them.

For years, we naively believed that communication technologies were bound to be a vector of freedom and would lead us to a better world. Today, we are realizing that the virtual world has the same problems as the real world: ill-intentioned individuals seek to harm us (hackers), governments can violate our rights if we do not protect our personal data, and the web giants capitalize on their monopoly positions to exploit our private information even more. The Internet has changed the world, but it has not fundamentally changed human beings. Individuals of Generation X and Baby-Boomers have a more acute perception of this reality because they know the world before the Internet. There is also the age factor. After the age of 40, we feel more concerned about security because we generally have more to lose. Then our psychology changes. With age we realize that life is precious and fragile. It is therefore normal to start thinking more about the interests of one's family and loved ones rather than one's own, and to want to do everything possible to protect them.

When developing a Startup to meet these growing needs for security and privacy, different principles must be used than those that have been proven on Digital Natives. Our company offers an ultra-secure infrastructure to protect data (local encryption and decryption, no storage of the user's password). We do not compromise on privacy: we have no way to link users to personal data about their activity. We only earn revenue from users who agree to pay €39 per year to benefit from our premium version. And given our figures, it seems they are quite satisfied with it. We also strive to provide quality support to this knowledgeable and demanding audience, and as a result we get quite high satisfaction rates.

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We also intend to attract a large number of Digital Natives by diversifying our recruitment channels and adapting our business model. The added value of our product is the same regardless of the age of the user. The challenges of web security are the same for all generations and we are counting on members of Generation X and Baby-Boomers to be the ambassadors of a safer Internet.

Emmanuel Schalit, CEO Dashlane

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