January 17, 2017
This year, competition will increase. Find your niche and own it.
Although 2016 showed some slowdown in startup and funding activity, I believe we were taking a “wait and see” approach to the presidential election and how it would affect the market and economy. Now that it’s post-election, we can be more certain on how to move forward in the startup world in 2017. From my own experience as a founder, advisor and investor, these are the startup insights I see for the coming year. Keep these in mind whether you’re looking to partner with other companies or hone your own business:
Larger Companies Will Invest in Startups
As larger companies and multinationals see the competition in disruptive startups, they recognize opportunities to partner with them as investors and mentors. Similarly, it’s a great opportunity for startups to partner with a company with larger resources.
Here’s why this relationship will work: It provides money and expertise to these startups, while the larger company can see a sizable return, diversify its own product portfolio, and add critical technology that it might not be able to develop on its own.
Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing will gain momentum as more startups focus on the stories that accompany their products. These stories will illustrate how they solve problems big and small, offering both value and connection. Crowdsourcing may become even more popular because investors can actually take part in the product development process and feel more involved in the day-to-day operations.
Investors Will Look for Lean Spending
And by lean spending, I mean 95 percent or higher. Much of my advisory responsibilities have been around helping startups learn how to do the most possible with the least amount of money, and we’ve seen positive results. While funding will be available, it will be much more modest because investors want to max out their returns and minimize the number of startup failures that defined the last two years. More emphasis will be placed on efficiency in terms of how resources are used, as well as the availability of tools and platforms that facilitate a more efficient operation.
It’s a good idea to build a lean initiative for your business. Aim for the lowest overhead costs in 2017.
Competition Will Increase
The numerous startup success stories in the last few years have encouraged more individuals to start their own businesses.
However, because of the larger number of ventures across all types of industries, competition is heating up and will continue to do so in 2017. This trend means that entrepreneurs behind the newest startups will have to develop an edge to what they are doing and differentiate themselves in order to be valuable to investors and attract their target audience. Find your niche and own it.
Niche Technology Industries Will Grow
This will be important to keep in mind if you are looking to partner with or invest in a tech startup, or if you’re looking to stay ahead of your competitors. Here are my top picks:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart homes: These remain exciting topics despite having faced security concerns and a lack of consumer adoption in 2016.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning: These have become a focal point for many startups. Some applications are already using them, helping businesses and consumers feel more at ease with the concepts.
- Chatbots: We’re already seeing this used in numerous apps and social media platforms.
- Cybersecurity: This will continue to thrive, considering the security breaches and concerns this year.
- Cloud solutions, big data, analytics, etc.: Because a digital transformation continues across all types of work processes, these service businesses will receive plenty of backing and support.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR): This includes innovative wearables like Snapchat’s Spectacles and “intelligent things” that combine AI with IoT for autonomous vehicles, drones and more.
There Will Be Continued Disruption
It’s still an exciting and lucrative time to be an entrepreneur with a disruptive idea, business plan and passion to build a business from the ground up. During a time like this, it’s important to stay positive, focused, strategic and flexible in your approach to startup growth in 2017.
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