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Who else wants to ride the next big tech wave?
The dust is still settling from one of the largest annual tech conferences in the world; TechCrunch Disrupt. Space is limited at the conference, and the ticket price is prohibitive for most bootstrapped startups. Many are asking themselves, what exactly happened at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference and what can I learn from the startups that exhibited at the conference?
As a serial entrepreneur for almost 10 years, I’ve had the priviledge to attend tech events around the world. I will soon embark on a small speaking tour including conferences like Milwaukee Startup Week’s “The Summit” and Google Launchpad’s Manos Tech Venture Summit. These experiences have given me a unique perspective for what is possible in a tech trade show and how to read market trends by scanning the up and coming startup roster.
These are the 3 trends that most caught my attention, along with commentary of what you can learn from them:
1. We are All Citizens of the World Now
Technology is breaking down country barriers at an amazing speed. A large amount of the startups at the conference facilitated money exchange, web payments, travel, decentralized currency (Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin spoke on day 2 of the event), and remote work. Developing countries will leapfrog entire generations of infrastructure by capitalizing on the newest tech. Take NomadApp.co for example; you can now work with talent in Spain to build a travel search engine based in California, targeting European backpackers who want to see South America and Southeast Asia! Furthermore, marketplaces like Ease will continue to help millennials work remotely and enjoy the benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle by working out of a laptop anywhere in the world. This trend is in full force.
As Ease CEO Nathan D. Harris best put it, “International connectivity is only getting stronger. In the future, our kids may earn money in Bitcoin and have an international passport that lets them stay at an apartment anywhere around the world with a flat rent fee while working on the go.”
2. The Rise of Hardware Startups
Software unicorns that came out of the 2000’s-2010’s have strong control of their respective markets. Breaking as an app CEO is now harder than ever with more than 2 millions apps available for iOS and Android. Customer acquisition channels are now less forgiving of lazy marketing, and founders are finding it hard to bootstrap software startups when customer acquisition cost (CAC) is anywhere between 3-12 months of monthly average revenue per user (ARPU). Try getting your app startup to big enough metrics to catch an investor’s attention in 2017! The most investable (and easier to sell) businesses right now seem to be hardware products that go viral, get lots of sales, and are taken on by a savvy investor who knows the path to sale to a large company in their network.
3. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Are not Going Away
I ignored this tech for far too long hoping it would face the same destiny as fidget spinners and dabbing. Fortunately for my friends who got in early, and unfortunately for me who told Bitcoin to “get off my lawn” like a bitter old man, the tech is permeating almost every industry and the exhibitors at TechCrunch Disrupt proved that there is major investor interest. I saw startups offering everything from ICO (Initial Coin Offerings) to a hackathon contestant AR tech for visualizing your bitcoin stash as a pile of cash. Investors seemed interested and there was lots of press and social buzz around new uses for crypto and blockchain tech. I concluded it’s best to become literate in this space rather than continue to let time pass by hoping the trend will stop.
Thousands of brilliant minds from all over the world were represented at TechCrunch Disrupt. The event boasts booths from countries like Austria, Argentina, Croatia, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Uruguay, Ukraine, and many more with some of the most successful startups from each country. Strong startup leaders from every corner of the world presented the hottest tech innovations available and patterns were hard to ignore.
As we begin to close this decade, one thing is clear:
What made many people successful in the last 20 years will not give security in the next 20. Global infrastructure is trembling and new giants are emerging.
These startups are here to disrupt.