How to Build Products for Gen Z and Beyond feat. Matthew Lee

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4 min read

Gen Alpha makes up 1 out of every 7 people in the world, but this emerging demographic is often misunderstood. Matthew Lee, founder of Progression Fund with musical.ly & TikTok alumni discusses what makes Gen Z and Gen Alpha unique — and how to build and market products that they’ll love. 

Move over, millennials — Gen Z is about to take over, followed by Gen Alpha. And these up-and-coming consumers have an entirely different perspective, and a distinct set of tastes and preferences, that founders should be aware of when designing and marketing products. 

TikTok, the mega-hit social app, encapsulates many of the unique tastes of Gen Z: Those born between the mid-to-late 1990s and the 2010s, who grew up acclimated to the digital media from a very young age. 

“Gen Z is what everyone’s talking about, but we’re already starting to think about Gen Alpha already,” says Matt Lee, a partner at Progression Fund. “They’re super interesting in that they’re growing up in a COVID environment; they are hackers, and they’re using technology at a very young age because their millennial parents also adopted technology early.” 

Progression Fund, which invests in consumer and frontier technologies, was founded by Lee alongside alumni of TikTok and Musical.ly. TikTok has an estimated user base of 800 million worldwide, and its U.S. operations are valued as high as $60 billion, according to recent reports.

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  • What Gen Z/Alpha Need Out of Tech 
  • How COVID Could Affect Future Products
  • Designing Content for Gen Z/Alpha
  • How to Make Tech More Human
  • Emerging Trends to Watch

Gen Alpha are exposed to technology when they’re toddlers and even younger, and that carries implications for what they expect from products. And given that Gen Alpha makes up more than 1 in 7 people in the world, and are on track to outnumber Baby Boomers by 2025, founders would be wise to pay attention. 

“They’re growing up talking to Alexa and Google, so technology has to be more human to them.” - @powerbog Click To Tweet

The COVID-19 pandemic will also have a lasting imprint on how Gen Alpha view the world. and could make them more adaptable and less patient when it comes to creating change and accessing information. An estimated 98% of Gen Alpha kids are using some form of technology, according to MarketingProfs.com.

“Gen Alpha are much more tech savvy, and they hack solutions for everything,” Lee says. “They’re growing up talking to Alexa and Google, so technology has to be more human to them.”

Another defining feature of Gen Z and Gen Alpha are shorter attention spans and a preference for short-form and easily digestible content. If the product or content is cumbersome to work with, they’ll be turned off. 

“Your product has to be simple, straightforward, look beautiful, and be easy to share with your friends.” - @powerbog Click To Tweet

“Content has become shorter form, and platforms are catering to that,” Lee adds. “Your product has to be simple, straightforward, look beautiful, and be easy to share with your friends.”

Shareability is a key principle of marketing your products to Gen Z and Gen Alpha: They’re natural-born creators, and the way you package your products should inspire them to create, share and engage.

“Everything has to be Instagrammable. Especially in the consumer product space, your product has to be functional and look beautiful,” Lee explains. And the same idea applies to workplace tech as well, with many in the younger age demographic launching careers remotely, and acclimating to a company’s culture from their homes. 

“Everything has to be Instagrammable: Especially in the consumer product space, your product has to be functional and look beautiful.” - @powerbog Click To Tweet

Despite the tech-savviness of these emerging generations, there’s another side to consider when building products for them. Digital natives, in particular Gen Z, have grown up exposed to the dark side of technology: the isolation, loneliness, and negative human behavior that can come with it. They are the “loneliest generation,” according to Lee. 

Accordingly, a new generation of products — in areas like digital health, education or social products that have a positive slant — could emerge. The rising awareness of the negative effects of technology is also bound to influence new products. 

“A lot of the millennial parents are cognizant of the bad side of technology, so Gen Alpha will be more educated on the negative sides of social media,” Lee adds. 

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Read more by Founders Network

Founded in 2011, Founders Network offers lifelong peer mentorship to over 600 tech startup founders globally. Our platform, programs and high-touch service facilitate authentic experience sharing, warm introductions and long-term professional relationships. Additional benefits include over $1M in startup discounts and mentorship from 50+ Institutional Investors. Members are located in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, London and other tech hubs. Each month our Membership Committee admits a new cohort of full-time tech founders who are nominated by an existing member.