10 growth areas for startups in 2015

5 min reading
10 growth areas for startups in 2015
10 growth areas for startups in 2015


You don’t want your company to be constantly chasing the next fad, whatever it may be. Good investors tend to focus in people, talent and specially clear ideas, not buzzwords. But knowing the inner currents of the market and where the new opportunities are can be a valuable tool to design new products or refine ones already in place. These are the topics that we will hear about for the next 12 months.

1. Secure enterprise communications

The Sony Pictures hack on late 2014 showed corporations that the use of non-encrypted communication systems and relying on e-mail as an organizational tool can be extremely risky. If the servers are compromised -and if history is any guide they will, eventually-, all the internal information can easily be exposed.

We need new apps and services to effectively decentralize communications, eliminate the redundancies traditionally associated with email and keep communications secured even in the event of a cyberattack. Securing customer data (including credit card / payment info) will be another focus for the industry. Big retailers, like Target, are experiencing an increasing number of attacks.

“As the threat environment moves away from individual PCs and private data centers to the cloud and mobile — as the computing platform shifts — a new set of companies are emerging. And when there’s a platform shift, there’s potential for new franchises to emerge” says VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

In this area there are several startups that are success stories and a role model for entrepreneurs and software developers, such as Confide, Slack and Box.

2. 3D printing

After many years of hype, 3D printing is quickly becoming an affordable and practical solution for both the consumer and the professional market. Sales of printers are expected to double this year, according to Gartner, and new materials and printing techniques will expand the possibilities of these machines.

“Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015.” says Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner.

Once consumers start getting printers at home and in the workplace they will look for models and projects they can work on. Support businesses, like 3D scanning, on-demand fast printing and tailored accessories will benefit from the public awareness of the technology.

Follow closely: Makerbot, SOLS Systems and Formlabs.

3. Customer Analytics & Banking

Online Banking has come a long way but in most cases it’s still an experience designed around the idea of a user interacting with a web browser on a traditional PC. Simplifying banking services and enabling better mobile applications for financial institutions will be the key to attract new users in all markets. Tools for managing and transferring money or visualizing expenses and investments in a meaningful way will find a very receptive audience. As a whole, online banking is expected to grow around 7%, this year according to Ovum.

One of the largest areas where banks will invest money in 2015 will be customer analytics, knowing what users need and how and what they are doing in real time will allow financial institutions to deliver more compelling products and services. Companies that can provide insightful analysis will see a spike in attention.

Follow closely: Coinbase, Madiva and Venmo.

4. Internet of Things

It can easily be mistaken for the next tech fad but serious applications for connected objects and embedded platforms will become an extremely lucrative business this year. According to Cisco, market of connected devices in 2015 is set to surpass 5 billion units.

More than 25 billion connected are already active around the world, collecting data or communicating with each other. Home automation will be one of the first applications of this technology that will resonate with the average consumer. We are already seeing an increasing number of companies developing connected locks for the home, better security systems or intelligent lights that can be controlled remotely via smartphone.

Follow closely: Fitbit, Pebble and Misfit.

5. Media

The decline of traditional news companies and the rise of new channels of distribution offer an incredible opportunity for young and rising media brands.

Mobile is the hot new frontier. News consumption on mobile devices and in-app has surpassed web accessibility in some of the most prominent publications. There are exciting possibilities on the use of messaging applications, like WeChat or Snapchat, as platforms for news. Online video is also becoming more pervasive and easier to find and consume. Emerging markets will be the key demographic.“The next billion news consumers will be mobile” sums up Dayo Olopade for NiemanLab.

Follow closely: Circa, Snapchat and Medium.

6. Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is finally shaking off the bad image and disappointment left by the turn of the century technology. Oculus Rift will make its commercial debut soon, Sony is working on a headset for the Playstation console and Microsoft and Google are investing heavily in augmented reality glasses capable of merging the real and virtual world.

These new devices will demand content and applications not yet available, a huge market opportunity that is open for a wide variety of content creators, from videogame developers to filmmakers. The key will be to avoid complex projects. “What will likely succeed instead are relatively simple experiences”,  says VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Follow closely: Dodocase, Oculus Rift and Razer.

7. Hybrid Cloud Systems

Cloud computing and cloud storage were the hot trends of 2014. Usage is on the rise and they will keep shaping the technology industry for years to come. For a lot of companies, though, relying on services provided by others is not practical or viable. Mixed environments of “private” and “public” clouds to satisfy these needs will become commonplace this year and will require new expertise and services for the IT departments.

“Hybrid cloud model will become the de facto standard”, says Lief Morin, president of Key Information Systems. Accenture, Microsoft or IBM are some of the companies that have already invested and are launching solutions in the field.

Follow closely: Docker, CloudVelox and mist.io.

8. Big Data Visualization, Collection and Management

Big Data will support more than 6 million jobs this year and the market for analytics alone will surpass 125 billion dollars, according to IDC. We are generating and consuming more data every day but extracting useful information out of it is still an elusive goal. Better tools to manage and visualize data will be sought after by large companies and governments.

Data storytelling -the ability to merge different silos of data into a coherent  view of the world-will emerge as one of the crucial skills in business intelligence.

Follow closely: Palantir, Mattermark and Chartio.

9. The Quantified Self

The launch of the Apple Watch will reinvigorate an already expanding wearable market. With it on the wrists of millions of users, the idea of having a comprehensive collection of metrics from oneself will not longer be an alien concept or an idea that appeals only to fitness fanatics.

New and disruptive applications in health and communications will be possible, including early diagnostics and prevention. With better personal data new social trends will also emerge but the key in this field will be the adoption of health platforms like Android Health and Healthikit, by the medical industry. peacemakers, glucose meters ad other diagnostic devices will interconnect with our wearables and provide a much more complete view of ourselves.

Follow closely: Under Armor (Endomondo), Narrative and Jawbone

10. Teaching and Learning

Rising costs of tuition and the need to constantly learn and improve skills in the workplace have contributed to raise awareness of online education, with global MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) closing in on 1.5 billion revenue for this year.

We are finally embracing the idea of continuous education throughout life but the online learning and teaching industry is still an uncharted territory in which new techniques are required. China and other emerging countries will lead in number of students but better classes and tools will be in demand worldwide.

Follow closely: One Month, Khan Academy and Udemy.

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