Last August I did a post called "Local Search Still Sucks." Since then we've seen newer services like local Seattle startup HelpHive launch and we've seen some local guys being bought like UrbanSpoon to IAC. HelpHive (founded by former RealNetworks execs Dave Richards and Karim Meghi) stopped by the Mpire offices recently and explained that there are going after the home services segment (contractors, plumbers, etc). The visit got me thinking about local search (again).
I think a lot of these plays will be successful if they are targeted. I still think there is a ton of interesting business that are basically local versions of TripAdvisor that could tackle different market segments. Some other local examples are Avvo and RealSelf. Both of these companies are founded by fellow ex-Expedia alumni (Expedia also owns TripAdvisor). In the auto segment you have players like Frugal Mechanic and RepairPal.
Another area that I believe would should be tackled is Senior Housing. Some guys that have been hammering at this space are SnapForSeniors who have basically built the richest database of senior care around. Some former All Star Director alum announced something called AllSeniorHomes.com.
Senior housing is a huge market that is growing rapidly – by 2025 18% of the US population will be made up of people that are 65 and older. This is over 80 million Americans. Currently there is not enough supply and a lot of fragmentation and competition in the marketplace. There are some traditional players today involved in the space that I am personally not too fond of like A Place for Mom.
Listen up you entrepreneurs--you should start to think about building full-service services linked to rich online consumer directories in this space. Here is a little sample of what it might look like. I like my version better than the AllSeniorHomes.com. Think about building an online resource that helps you find living resources for your parents, guardianship programs, etc. Services across the whole senior gambit. No one is really doing interesting things in the space. It may not be as cool as social gaming or iPhone applications but I think it could be very lucrative. What do you think?