No doubt. Startups will continue to unbundle and decentralize traditional industries.
The next big wave has already started to build up and will soon roar across industries like automobile, financial services, healthcare, legal, media, again retail and consumer goods, and many more. Various industries and industry sectors will be among those hit which have long been controlled by multinational corporations and powerful governing bodies. Even small startups will successfully compete with entrenched corporations via crowdsourcing, agility, boldness, flexible business models, and shared resources.
Some pundits argue that below-listed companies are about to kick off the next big wave of disruption and predict that in the next few years some of them will be at the forefront of both re-shaping existing industries and creating new ones.
I´d like to invite you to understand their business models, ambitions, what they might bring to the party, and how to ensure that we´re prepared to be part of the overall growth and success.
It does not come as a surprise. Tesla, Uber, and Lyft aren´t the only interesting startup car and mobility companies out there. And, of course, there is the big hype about self-driving cars like the one of Google. Now, meet some new ones as we see a massive trend toward connectivity and seamless transportation.
Cruise has built the first highway autopilot system that installs on your existing vehicle. It uses sensors and advanced machine vision technology to keep you in your lane and a safe distance from the car in front of you. With a unique focus on eliminating the mundane parts of driving and improving safety, Cruise is a leader in the driverless revolution.
Founded in 2012, Mojio delivers insights on what’s happening under the hood and behind the wheel. Apps powered by Mojio provide accurate, near real-time, contextual information to drivers and enterprises to keep them better informed on and off the road. Mojio is an open platform with a plug-and-play device for the car and mobile app for the smartphone. Mojio helps drivers to plan and record trips, share driving information with friends and family and better understand their car’s health. For enterprises, Mojio is a fully scalable, customizable and cost-effective option for resource management that can host multiple web and smartphone based applications.
Finally, when it comes to optimize commuting, you should check out Urban Engines which makes it easier to get where you’re going by just looking into your phone. By using information from the billions of trips that people and vehicles make each day the app tells you the best route to take based on traffic conditions. Their mapping, visualization, reporting, and analytics platform creates actionable insights for companies, cities, and commuters.
Retail was one of the first indutries which got hit by innovative startups. Guess what? The show will go on! Therefore I suggest that you keep the following startups on your radar:
Rather than paying someone to simply transport and deliver goods, the company uses delivery workers as personal shoppers. Instead of owning warehouses they simply own your shopping list. They´re working with lots of data to determine the right time to dispatch a shopper so that the groceries are still fresh when they´ll be delivered.
Storefront was launched in 2014 with the idea of renting retail estates. They understood that retail is no longer about buying products but rather it's about providing an experience that consumers delight in. At their marketplace one can find and rent out popup spaces by the day, week or month.
Founded in 2009 the company seeks to optimize for Gap, Target, Asos, etc. their forecasting by using big data technologies. They extract competitive intelligence and provide real-time analytics on pricing, assortment and product metrics. These insights help apparel professionals in making better buying, trading, merchandising and strategic decisions.
Rent the Runway
In times when consumers favor more access and experiences than ownership Rent the Runway´s concept is super simple and effective: Customers select a dress, rent it for some days and then send it back to the company. They are a fashion company with a technology soul. Powered by a transformative business model, proprietary technology, and a unique reverse-logistics operation.
Consumer goods companies like Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, L´Oréal & Co. are facing stiff competitive pressure from an ever increasing number of pretty good and specialized startups.
This is a next-generation food company which wants to unjunk the world by reinventing favorite foods and brands. Making them without junk, with less sugar, and with better taste. Every ingredient they use is non-GMO, always real, and never artificial. Organic wherever there's a real benefit. Sustainably sourced and fair trade ingredients. No gluten, corn, or soy.
While FitBit might have started the personalized fitness revolution, Athos takes the fitness revolution to the ultimate sci-fi level. They produce smart fitness apparel that measures muscle activity, heart rate, and respiration all in real time. EMG sensors that send real-time data to your phone are woven into the fabric of Athos apparel. The Athos app´s Live View shows you exactly what muscles are firing, how hard, and in what sequence so you can correct your form immediately.
Launched in 2014 via a Kickstarter campaign the company creates a low-maintenance bike by using puncture-resistant tires that almost never go flat and a chainless belt. A rust-free lightweight aluminum frame makes the bikes easy to carry. Assembly takes about five minutes. Delivery directly to their riders´ homes. Priority sells its bikes and gear online.
The legal field has been traditionally tough for startups to crack because of non-uniform regulations and risk-averse stakeholders. Good news (for most of us): Mr. Change is knocking loudly at consumers´doors.
Shake is a platform that makes the law accessible and understandable to consumers and small business owners. Users can create, sign and send legally binding agreements digitally in seconds.
This startup creates a set of tools for discovering important patents. Their system includes all U.S. patents - utility, design, and plant - from 1976 to the current month. They rank and map each patent for users to explore and offer an objective analysis of patent importance that utilizes the connectivity of patents past and present.
Docket Alarm runs full-text searches across millions of law-suits and can deliver real-time alerts to your inbox or mobile device. Under the hood, Docket Alarm uses high-tech natural language processing in order to predict a case's outcome by finding all similar cases and averaging their litigation outcomes together. The outcomes from each case are then tallied and presented in a comprehensive format of what a judge may do during litigation.
Media & Communications
The rise of content marketing and the effectiveness it has for businesses is unmistakable. Startups in this space create and share media content which attracts and retains targeted audiences with the goal of driving profitable consumer action.
Mic’s approach to news is unique and founded on a simple idea: Young people ask for a news destination that offers quality coverage tailored to them. News that keep them informed and help them make sense of the world. The company generates revenue by working with advertisers to create branded content and has 22 million monthly readers.
This startup helps brands to manage the entire content marketing process on one platform. By managing content creation, distribution and measurement, brands will be able to scale and streamline the entire customer experience.
They´re helping companies operationalize data storytelling with Quill, their advanced natural language generation (NLG) platform. By automatically transforming data into narratives, the artificial intelligence software significantly reduces the time and energy people spend analyzing, interpreting and explaining data. The result is a narrative indistinguishable from what a human would write.
Furniture and Home Improvement
Once upon a time there were big-box retailers and interior designers who called the shots in the home furnishing market. With Pinterest, 3D printing, and an army of design bloggers, consumers have more options and choice than ever before. The wave is rolling over the until recently relatively cozy home decor and improvement market. IKEA & Co, you better watch out. Serious stuff is happening!
Founded in 2014 the company produces furniture and sells them online. They only work with selected factory partners who meet their high quality standards. All of their furniture is made-to-order, and you can further customize many pieces without significantly altering the price. Their process bypasses unnecessary middlemen and markups. As such they offer well-crafted pieces at a fraction of the price of mainstream luxury brands. As a customer you're provided an individual point of contact for order tracking, questions, and help with delivery. They also offer 365-day returns.
Like Chairish it´s a marketplace for buying and selling nearly new quality furniture. They offer online access to brands that are largely restricted to offline showrooms, all for 50-80% below retail prices and for immediate delivery.
Seattle-based Porch is a home network, free for homeowners and home professionals. With over 3.2 million professionals and over 130 million projects, Porch enables homeowners to make smart home improvement decisions by giving them the information they need to find the right professionals, get inspiration, and manage their home. Beginning of 2014, Porch announced a strategic partnership with Lowe's http://www.lowes.com/ that would see the home improvement retailer use Porch as their in-store resource for nearly any project outside of Lowe's current services.
3D printing is transforms digital models into three-dimensional objects. It customizes and manufactures mass produced items like household products. Based on latest technology it´s been also applied to furniture and home furnishings. French start-up company Drawn wants to help with that. The company is launching its first set of 3D-printed, decorative furniture pieces that it creates using a robotic-arm style printer called Galatea. They´re offering their own exclusive line of furniture for sale in their onlien store and are ready to make your interior design projects come to life.
Hotel and Tourism
Traditional hotels and even “older” startups like Airbnb are under fire. Find out which other startups will continue to disrupt the hotel and hospitality industry in the future.
Like Onefinestay it is an online booking platform for travel accommodation which offers a richer experience like e.g. Airbnb by really connecting travellers with local hosts. It allow guests to book a room in a local person’s home on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis for a fee. In all of their homestays there is a host present during the stay, enhancing the guest’s travel experience through their hospitality and local knowledge.
This is another cool tarvel site taking the global community spirit to the next level. Very popular with students. Couchsurfing connects travelers with a global network of people willing to share in profound and meaningful ways, making travel a truly social experience.
The Henn-na (Weird Hotel)
Most recently this very special hotel opened in Japan. What´s peculiar about it? It´s “manned” almost totally by robots. From check-in, to luggage delivery, etc. In addition, the The Henn-na Hotel uses a cutting-edge facial recognition system for keyless stays and other very innovative technologies like the radiant panel air conditioning system. About the Radiant Panel Air Conditioning System. This system uses electromagnetic waves to transfer heat directly from one object to another without affecting the air in between. When it is hot out, this radiating-type heating/cooling system draws heat away from your body to make you feel cool. When it is cold out, it makes you feel warm by keeping heat from escaping your body.
This German startup provides analytics and reputation management for hotels to stay in the game. The software allows hotels to collect, analyze, distribute, and integrate customer centric data. Reviews can be displayed on the hotel‘s website and can be distributed to relevant websites. Currently more than 3,000 hotels in 35 countries use its software.
Finance and Banking
Many new startups in this arena are working at the intersection of finance and tech (fintech) and will push hard to create new markets and new demand for their products. Banks and financial institutions should be ready for the next wave of fintech disruption.
This UK-based startup set up a peer-to-peer online marketplace to make their own loans to firms. You can adjust the level of risk you'd like to take and choose sectors and individual firms to lend to. Funding Circle has very quickly become one of the world’s leading marketplace exclusively focused on small. Businesses can borrow directly from a wide range of investors, including more than 40,000 people, the UK Government, local councils, and a number of financial organisations.
This California-based online financial services and wealth management firm combines technology and people as a new model for investing. Already over 800,000 people use the company´s tools to track their assets. You can calculate your Net Worth (by linking all your accounts to the Personal Capital Dashboard), analyze your portfolio (there are free tools such as the Fee Analyzer and Investment Checkup), and you can plan for the future by using e.g. their Retirement Planner to build a customized retirement plan. Alternatively, you can meet with an online advisor to discuss possible investing strategies.
Acorns is a simple and very innovative mobile app that connects to your debit or credit card and monitors what you spend. The app then “rounds up” your daily purchases to the nearest dollar, and placing the difference in an investment account. Users simply choose one of three risk levels: low, medium, or aggressive. The “micro-investing” app pipes in key market data in real-time, allowing users to make informed changes to their positions right from their phone. More than three quarter of the company´s investors are under 35 who understood that successful investing is realizing that saving even small amounts adds up over time.
In many countries healthcare is the largest industry. Like no other vertical it is undergoing a very fast transformation process. For the better of patients by bringing more transparency and competition into traditionally very dusty, complicated, and inefficient systems.
Oscar is a new kind of health insurance company currently operating in New York and New Jersey. It´s setting itself apart from other health insurers by emphasizing technology, data and easy-to-understand explanations of its services. As a patient you would tell them via an app about your symptoms. You can then “shop” for a doctor and pick one you like. Or just click to talk with a doctor right away. Then see all your visits, prescriptions, and lab work in an intuitive timeline.
This Chinese startup offers a suite of apps which could serve as a blueprint to improve medical systems of many countries. One app contains e.g. an all-in-one patient service system and data base. Doctors can archive and organize patient data and records. There is also a widget for doctors to communicate with their patients and/ or to exchange with fellow doctors. Other apps contain reference materials, latest research literature, prescription recommendations, dedicated healthcare forms, etc.
This is an app that brings urgent care to your house within two hours. It works almost like Uber, but instead of calling a car you can ask for a doctor who will show up at your doorstep. Currently available in NYC and San Francisco every day from 8AM to 10PM.
The company is at the forefront of scanning objects in 3-D to create something new and useful. For example, they are scanning residual limbs to create new prosthetics so that trauma victims can have better livelihoods. Their Anaken 3-D smartphone app allows the user to, with a standard smartphone and minimal training, scan an amputee’s residual limb and remaining complementary limb for prosthesis sizing.
What do you think? Which other innovative startups do you know? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Andreas von der Heydt
Andreas von der Heydt is the Head and Director of Kindle Content at Amazon in Germany. Before that he held various senior management positions at Amazon and L'Oréal. He's a startup specialist, leadership expert, and management coach. He also founded Consumer Goods Club. Andreas worked and lived in Europe, Australia, the U.S., and Asia. Andreas enjoys blogging as a private person here on LinkedIn about various exciting topics. His latest book is about what makes a future leader. All statements made, opinions expressed, etc. in his articles only reflect his personal opinion.
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