The pandemic was, and still is, a driver for unprecedented market opportunities for startup founders. As tough as 2020 was, it shook several industries to the core and forced them to transform in order to remain relevant and grow.
As the economy is recovering, a sea of opportunity lies in front of startup founders. Here are four major market changes in 2020 that can help you build a startup that succeeds in 2021.
1. Stronger Customer Adoption Of Digital Channels
According to Mckinsey, significantly more people are comfortable using digital channels today compared to just a little less than a year ago. As an entrepreneur building technology-enabled products and services in 2021, this radical change in consumer behavior means a bigger market, tech-friendlier buyers, and it goes without saying, emphasizes the importance of leveraging technology and digital channels to serve customers, no matter the industry or business model.
Today, the ability of a business to leverage digital channels is plan B as much as it has become plan A.
2. Remote Hiring And Working Became A Norm
At the peak of the pandemic, over 40% of workers in the U.S. were working remotely from home, and CEOs expect 36% of their employees to be working remotely by January 2022. According to a Deloitte survey, 60% of C-suite executives also stated that their work transformation objectives for 2021 and beyond are focused on achieving new or different work outcomes with new combinations of technology and people.
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This reimagining of the workplace will be primarily fuelled by remote hiring, remote working, and collaboration. As companies made permanent changes to their work from home policies, nearly 100 new or enhanced digital collaboration products were launched in the market by August 2020 to address consumers and businesses’ growing needs.
Pre-pandemic, companies were already looking at remote work and collaboration solutions, although at a slow pace. The pandemic forced companies to adopt a remote work culture almost overnight, and to do so, they had to leverage startup products that specialized in remote workplace management.
Although many existing technologies facilitated collaboration, there is still a need for solutions that can make remote work collaborations more immersive and make the overall experience less forced. We live in a world where it has become feasible to build and run a billion dollar company entirely remotely. Every hard-working entrepreneur anywhere in the world can build a thriving business remotely today.
3. Accelerated Investment In AI And Machine Learning
The adoption of AI in the workplace has become a driving force in shaping the future of work. However, while 58% of the organizations use AI to improve consistency and quality of work, only 26% are currently using it to improve productivity. With product development and service-operations optimization being the most prevalent use-cases of AI, the scope for new startups in the AI and machine learning startups is immense.
Large companies that don’t have in-house AI development abilities are looking for solutions outside. Real estate, healthcare, e-commerce, retail, fintech, entertainment, supply chain, and logistics are sectors that are aggressively looking for AI solutions that can create value. There is no better time than now to build an AI startup that can deliver the value sought by multiple industries.
4. Sustainability Is Becoming A Critical Business Concern
Companies managed with environmental, governance, and social considerations have been gaining investors’ interest for some time now. 2020 saw a broadening of the investor spectrum with both retail and institutional investments in sustainable assets growing from $12 trillion in 2018 to $17.1 trillion, a whopping growth of 42%. The positive investor sentiment towards sustainable business is further bolstered by government support and increasing consumer interest.
Startups in 2021 have an immense opportunity in the climate-tech space. Mobility, transportation, food, agriculture, land-use, and energy are dominant sectors with scope for net-zero transition businesses to grow. The demand and supply gap is still huge and the urgency for sustainable solutions is imminent.
In conclusion, the world today needs and will reward problem solvers. It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur.