By now we should all be familiar with the pace of technology, one of the last great frontiers for the entrepreneur. Even though it doesn’t occur to us in the moment, new innovations continue to shape our world from year to year.
Compare the year 2020 to the turn of the century. In the first two decades of the 21st century, we’ve gotten used to social media, 3D printing, blockchains, eBooks, CRISPR gene editing, online streaming video and the wide-scale adoption of mobile phones. Likewise, we started the new millennium not knowing the names of Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Uber, AirBnB or Twitter.
What do the coming years bring? Our best economic and technological forecasters have picked a few rising stars in tech innovation who just might sculpt the next horizon in industry.
We’ve all heard of marketing companies collecting data on mobile users to use as research on user behavior, but StartApp simply has more data than anybody else. Tapping a billion active mobile users every month across 350K apps, StartApp anonymously logs this user data and then packages it for sale to companies to help them make better decisions about development, user interface design, and marketing. Having grown from $200K to $37 million in revenue, StartApp is poised to be the Amazon of customer service information.
While we were all anticipating the advent of driverless cars, still a hazy future promise, it occurred to our AI scientists that the experience of driving just isn’t documented enough to teach it to a robot. Nauto is one company helping to fix that, by building an autonomous driving data platform. Using cameras both exterior and interior, Nauto systems track both the road conditions and obstacles and the driver’s reactions, showing us what we respond to and how fast. It’s also aimed at reducing driver distraction and fatigue. With over $1 million in investor funding raised so far, the company aims first to enable better driver-assistance technology, before aiming at removing the need for a driver completely.
Evisort is simple to explain: It’s “Google for contracts.” Except, rather than just automating text search, it’s an expert system trained for the legal profession, allowing it to parse out key dates, names, provisions, limitations, dollar amounts and legal clauses. This turns out to be a huge part of the day for anybody working in the legal profession, where the average lawyer might handle dozens of contracts numbering 30 pages or more per week. Human contract review is costly, time-consuming, and prone to errors, so an automated AI for contract management is something every legal worker wants. Evisort has raised over $5 million in investor funding and been praised in both Forbes and Harvard Law Review.
The hospitality industry has been late to the party of industries changed by technology, but its turn has come. CloudBeds is a smart business management software for hotels, with an end-to-end platform that handles the unique challenges of property management and booking together with business management. The result is that hotels run better and make more money. Hotels, being a future-proof industry that online commerce can’t replace, are going to be around for a long time, and CloudBeds raising $20 million in investor funding shows that they’re going to be offering something every hotel wants.
The most senior member on this list, SnapChat has been in business for most of the 2010s, but it’s the social network platform with the brightest future. Just as Facebook took the crown from MySpace, everyone’s been counting the days until Facebook finds itself left behind by the next generation of web users. But which social network will it be? With a user base approaching 210 million people across 22 languages, SnapChat is a social network geared for the mobile platform and more favored by younger generations.
Much of the technology in recent years is driven by the advent of large data and deep learning methods in artificial intelligence. There are many more industries that can be innovated to the same degree that the above list has been – aspiring entrepreneurs take note!