A Few Startup Trends Worth Watching
With the press overhyping 3D printing, virtual reality, and Bitcoin, it’s hard for CIOs to track the startup trends impacting business today. Below are two trends we see startups and their investors focused on, and a future trend we expect to gain interest in the next 12 to 24 months that CIOs should care about.
Self-service business models disrupting industries. Startups are coming up with creative ways to reengineer cumbersome analog business processes with technology. Uber uses cloud, mobile, and analytics to recreate and bypass parts of the taxi/private car value chain. It connects customers directly to drivers, and uses data and analytics to make more efficient use of vehicle capacity. Other examples of startups developing new approaches to old industry processes include Oscar in health insurance and Simple in retail banking. What’s next? As 3D printers and connected products become more mainstream, and digital is further embedded in the physical world, we’ll see entrepreneurs apply self-service to new markets. Sols hopes to shake up orthotics by allowing customers to customize and print custom-insoles on 3D printers.
'Task' clouds filling technology gaps. There’s a proliferation of turnkey, task-specific SaaS and cloud platforms that make it easy for companies to plug in their data and get up and running filling a specific business need. Examples including Expect Labs helping developers add voice/digital assistant capabilities to mobile and web apps, Localytics helping marketers personalize product and content offers on mobile, and SwiftIQ helping analysts at retailers identify cross-selling opportunities using customer shopping cart data. Are these types of solutions worth investing in? A healthy mix of point-solutions will and should be part of your larger software platform strategy, because there’ll always be specific holes to fill. Watch for acquisitions as larger cloud and mobile service providers become eager to inject turnkey SaaS capabilities to differentiate their offerings.
Future trend: Software connecting consumer data to the enterprise. As part of the shift towards data-driven customer experience, marketers and business leaders express growing interest in tapping into the rich data flows consumers create interacting with mobile devices, apps, and personal cloud services — their digital self. Who’ll serve as a bridge connecting users and their data to enterprise offerings? Apple and Google already have a foot in this door helping users connect their fitness data to third party mobile apps. However, the opportunity to manage the wider array of digital-self data to be selectively shared with companies still feels up for grabs.
Here’s a shortlist of interesting investors with blogs worth keeping tabs on: Fred Wilson, Chris Dixon, Bill Gurley, Ben Horowitz, Marc Andreesen, and Peter Levine.