The rise of the hermitage economy

A few years ago Bruce Willis starred in a movie where no one ever leaves their home as they have robot surrogates that do everything for them and they experience everything the robot experiences. Why leave the couch?

That technology may be a few years off but I think the Covid-19 outbreak should give rise to a new class of entrepreneurs serving what I would call the hermitage market. These are folks (mostly likely older) who are reluctant to go out and eat, shop and access services for fear of catching the bug.

The hermitage economy involves a much broader array of services being provided in the home – not just food delivery and Amazon packages. Think about the full range of services – hair-styling, physiotherapy, massage therapy, pet grooming, clothing shopping, legal services and a host of other services and even entertainment – all can be provided in people’s homes.

In fact, for the 1% (likely the actual percentage who read this blog is lower than 1%) – these home-based services have always been available. At the right price service providers will come right to your house to serve you a gourmet meal, do your hair, groom your pet, give you a massage, help you workout and even bring clothes for you to try on. Can intrepid entrepreneurs figure out a viable business model for the masses? Particularly the elderly?

Of course a large part of the hermitage opportunity also involves the delivery of online services. I have talked about bingo in the past and I recently read there has been a surge in bingo playing online in recent weeks.

The extent of the hermitage market will depend on how long this virus sticks around or if others emerge. I still maintain that most people are still social creatures and they want to sit next to their friends in Tim Horton’s and complain about politicians.

But new realities mean potential new opportunities.

That’s why we need a robust entrepreneurial culture. To spot emerging opportunities, cash out the RRSPs, throw caution to the wind, and dive in.