Although 2018 was an amazing year for startups, there is still plenty more to come from the year we are coming towards. We are entering a period of unprecedented changes as internet technology matures and we begin a phase where we all reap the benefits created by the early pioneers. Some of these changes will be surprising and may present challenges to our current way of thinking. My top predictions include:
The rise of the multipreneur – Early startup founders had little choice but to focus all their energy into single startups. The high failure rate and complexity of creating a startup dictated that pioneers such as Mark Zuckerberg had a this single startup mentality. However, we are now seeing entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk who are able to build several world-changing business ideas in parallel. Jack Dorsey and Will.i.am are other examples of this approach which has come about because the process for creating a startup is now better understood and to some degree simplified. Books such as The Lean Startup allow founders to follow a more predictable path. The next 5 years will see an increase in the number of these multifaceted entrepreneurs.
Tech startups become democratised – Until 5 years ago there was only one place to build a tech startup; Silicon Valley. Then other clusters sprung up across the globe. We saw increased activity in New York, London, Tel Aviv and Berlin. Now we are seeing accelerator programmes being launched in all five continents. For the first time ever, a strong founder in Africa or Asia can launch a global startup to rival the best that Silicon Valley can produce. Startups such as M-Pesa have proven that emerging nations can provide the climate to leapfrog existing players. This democratisation will lead to a massive increase in startup activity from all regions which ultimately the possibility of reducing poverty through greatly increased economic activity.
Startups get serious – The past 5 years has been the era of the consumer internet startup. Much of the growth has come from social networking, marketplaces and similar consumer applications. How many more location-based drinking/dating apps do we need? Although we often refer to the current crop of startups as world changing, this is only the start. The next 5 years will see massive growth in sectors such as HealthTech, FinTech and other technologies that really improve our quality of life.
Enterprises eventually get it – Corporations have long been frustrated by their inability to innovate. There has been a growing recognition that they face disruption from nimble and efficient startups. Corporations are waking up to the need to adopt startup thinking to their own businesses. This can either be an openness to accepting new processes or the adoption of innovative technologies. Products such as Slack will transform the ways that enterprises work, and some will finally figure out how to work with the startup world.
Tech takes over – We all face immense challenges as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data change our lives. We will see a widening gap between those that understand how to leverage these technologies and those that don’t. Industries that have traditionally relied on professionals will be decimated as machines take over many activities. Big data will predict our behaviour and provide us with tailored on-demand services, all visualised with wonderful data visualisation. Society will have to deal with increased leisure time and a reduction in skilled jobs.
I am looking forward to 2019. Despite the ongoing woes of the world, I have hope and it will be great to see what all the inspiring entrepreneurs in the world will come up with. I hope that between us we will be able to address some real problems and use technology to build a better future.