The Middle Class Culture in Start-ups

If you read books or stories about Start-up founders, it’s a common factor that most of them belong to the middle class or above family.  And, so is the case here in Philippines. I’m not discriminating. But it’s just a fact of life. Middle class can afford to not have stable income, which you cannot find in start-up.

Looking at a few local web start-up projects, it made me think that maybe that’s why they are having a hard time to get a foothold in our local market is because if you look at the demographics of Philippines in terms of household income, majority belongs to the not-middle class or the lower income families. Implications are:

* Middle class culture is different from the lower class. So the rich kids creating start-up projects may only appeal to the people who somehow have the same taste and culture with them. As such, you already lose 80% of the population.

* Of course, web / mobile apps require gadgets and internet. And, though more families now have computer and internet connection, we still cannot deny the fact that these families are the ‘privileged’ families, which still do not compromise the majority of the Philippine population.

* This is probably the same to my point #1 — middle class has that certain elitism, and somehow shows in their project or application created. We cannot deny that we want to maintain the ‘coolness’ factor in our product. And, if we maintain this kind of attitude, you just lose the 80% of Philippine population.

* There’s a great divide of the rich and poor. We might be unconsciously unaware of it. Therefore, how can the rich kids provide a suitable product that will also appeal to the lower middle income if they haven’t mingle much with these group of people. Middle class kids go to private schools, lived in a gated community — what’s the chance they ever get to mingle with the other side of the fence. So they only get to share and get ideas from the people that has the same life with them, and as I said, will produce a product that will also only appeal to them.

Probably, one of the reasons why start-ups are easier to do in Silicon Valley or in other parts of the world because majority of their population somehow belongs in the middle class strata.

I don’t mean that we are not capable of creating software / hardware applications. The thing is after a team has produced a product, it cannot much go further or move forward locally because it lacks users (customers), it simply just not fit to the general lifestyle of the people. But of course, Philippines is not the only market as long as you have the stamina and the capital.