If one thing is clear about 2017, it’s that the rise of the startup is set to continue. Smaller, more flexible business models have been rapidly gaining ground over the last five years. They are proving that it doesn’t take a huge team and a massive budget to make a big impact. They are constantly connected, always evolving, and ready to meet consumer demands for broader, smarter products.
We are living through the age of the digital business and the future is bright for those who can turn virtual buzz into real world profits. The technology industry is a particularly promising place, because many startup companies are capitalizing on the need for sustainability. They are using the internet to streamline operations, scale back brick and mortar requirements, and crowdsource new ideas.
The question is, which startup companies are likely to become big names in 2017? What will they offer the world and will their business models stand the test of time? According to Forbes, eight out of every ten new companies fail, so success isn’t easy, particularly in these turbulent economic times. There needs to be a careful balance between venture and investment, in order for a startup to build a foundation and keep consumers engaged.
This guide to the most promising startup companies of 2017 will take a closer look at the people who might just have what it takes.
There has been a lot of talk about the use of drones for commercial deliveries. In fact, most of it has been from big name retailers like Amazon. Less attention has been paid to another use for drone technology; the delivery of medical supplies and aid.
While Zipline calls itself the ‘first commercial drone delivery service in the world,’ it is currently transporting medical resources to impoverished communities in Rwanda. In many cases, this is the only way in which supplies can be delivered, because there are no conventional forms of access.
Hollar: The Online Dollar Store
For some time now, there has been a big gap in the budget goods market. The demand for ‘dollar’ stores is high, as many consumers try to cut household costs and save cash. However, only 5% of dollar store transactions happen online, so there is room for clever businesses to swoop in and provide new types of online store.
This is what Hollar: The Online Dollar Store has managed to do. It is currently growing 50% month on month, which is a staggering rate of increase. Presumably, this is a market that will become more crowded in the future, but Hollar is one of the first on the scene. If it continues to charm customers, it might just become a household name.
Social Finance (SoFi)
SoFi aims to transform the student loan industry and make it easier to refinance this kind of debt. To be precise, it is harnessing data science to help people traverse what is usually quite a complex process. The focus is on excellent customer service, the streamlining of financial ‘pain points,’ and the construction of a sturdy, recognisable brand.
This startup is showing a great deal of ambition at the moment, because it is now making plans to move into the insurance and mortgage industries. Customers want refinancing options to be as simple and stress free as possible, so they will embrace the companies which put their needs at the heart of business.
This online business is founded upon a very interesting concept. It actually crowdsources the designs for its homeware products. Artists from all over the world are invited to ‘compete’ for a chance to have their work sold by Minted. The winning designs are turned into beautiful, unique items which cannot be bought anywhere else.
The startup is cleverly capitalising on the consumer need to be involved. Crowdsourcing has soared in popularity over the last five years, because people want to feel like part of something. They’re no longer satisfied with just owning products. They want to contribute to them. Minted allows users to pick what gets sold, so it always offers them exactly what they want.
Away provides state of the art luggage with tech capable features. For instance, its most notable product is a suitcase which can charge a mobile phone. It contains an integrated battery, so that frequent flyers can stay juiced up on the go. It isn’t difficult to see why such a product would make waves with millennials.
It fills a gap in the market and puts Away at the forefront of the tech ready market. Crucially, it has resisted the temptation (thus far) to go overboard. The Away suitcases are highly practical, but they have retained a sleek, minimalist aesthetic and fans of the brand love it.
To return to the consumer need for engagement; startup company Amino gives online users the chance to create their own mobile apps. The key is that the development can be on any topic which is of interest to the user. They are guided through the process by the Amino platform and the finished product is launched by the company.
Amino publishes the app and, if it gains a big enough following, it actually re-releases it as a standalone app in the App Store. In many ways, the business model is connecting to the interest in indie development. Indie games and studios are having a real moment right now and Amino is trying to create a similar buzz around niche apps.
The rather snappily named Shyp is a startup which handles packaging, shipping, and delivery on behalf of individuals and small businesses. So, for example, imagine if you are a frequent seller on eBay. You could pay Shyp to pick up your items and take care of the entire process from ‘pick up’ to delivery to the intended recipient.
The promise is that Shyp services are more economical and cost effective, particularly for frequent sellers. They also take all of the stress and fuss out of picking the right delivery option and ensuring that delivery is successful. It is, perhaps, the security of a company like Shyp which users are most fond of; handing over responsibility means you don’t have to worry about mistakes being made.
Digit is an app that has a lot of potential, particularly in 2017. We may be out of the recession, but the economic blues are still biting and millennials are looking for clever ways to save. This app connects to a chosen bank account. It then consistently checks the balance (every 2-3 days) and moves small amounts of money to a savings account.
It is designed to be a flexible, dynamic system, so the idea is that it determines how much cash to save by assessing the main bank balance. It wouldn’t, for example, remove money if you needed it to pay a monthly bill. The user retains control over both accounts, of course, so the savings can be brought back at any time. Early tests showed, however, that Digit helped users to save little and often in an easy, relaxed manner.
The House Party app is a group video tool. It allows up to eight people to connect and chat at one time. There are changeable settings, so that users can control who is approved for entry into conversations, but the general aim is to make it easy for ‘friends of friends’ to connect.
House Party promises a smooth, easy to use app, which lets people drop in and out of conversations at the touch of a button. It is user friendly, has a great design, and it is providing something that younger users are especially fond of; instant social sharing.
It has become quite common for retailers to offer ‘price comparisons’ on popular goods. This is something that supermarkets and electronics vendors do all the time. It is a legitimate agreement, but surprisingly few consumers ever take advantage of it. Presumably, they feel like they don’t have the time or don’t know how to claim price adjustments back.
This is where the Earny app comes in. It automatically tracks the prices of everything you buy online (on connected accounts anyway). If you purchase something from a retailer which offers money back when you find it cheaper elsewhere, the app takes the steps required to get you that cash.