Whether you’re an investor, a startup founder, or simply someone who likes being ahead of the curve, it definitely pays to keep your ear to the ground. At Flying Saucer, we work primarily with startups. Which means we spend plenty of time working with founders, entrepreneurs, and other smart folks with big ideas. So when they all collectively start mumbling about new trends and ideas – we tend to listen.

Based on current rumblings, general buzz, and ‘the word on the street’, here are six of the startup trends in 2020 that we think you should keep an eye on.


1.Ethical Enterprise

Unless you’re brand new to our blog, you already know we’re obsessed with impact. Essentially, we love brands that love to do good. If you’re a startup that’s actively trying to change the world for the better, you’re in our good books.

The idea that companies should ‘do good’ isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s one we expect to become even more prominent through 2020 as issues like the environment, fake news, financial security, and remote work options become more prominent on the world stage. It’s no longer enough to simply have a profitable company. These days, consumers are demanding more from the brands they buy from – they expect companies to play a positive, powerful role in changing the world.

Keep an eye out for: messaging about how companies are giving back, developing sustainable alternatives to their products, or helping change the world in some significant way.


2.Efficiency First

Investors and startups are at a bit of a crossroads. The days of easy VC money are over! Investors took a hit when the dotcom bubble burst and many are still wary of investing in startups that aren’t extremely likely to succeed. Making the issue worse, startups these days tend to ask for more money during seed stages than ever before.

Moving into 2020, we predict that the startups that receive funding will be those that can show profitability, great product-market fit, and other clear trust signals – and one of those trust signals is going to be impact. This year, the financially efficient startup is the one most likely to receive seed money.

Keep an eye out for: startups that spend as much time on their idea as they do on market research, future monetization, and ensuring profitability.


3.Forgotten Industries

The tech revolution has paved the way for rapid innovation across all markets. It’s hard to think of an industry that doesn’t have a million apps and tech companies dedicated to it. However, look hard enough and you’ll find there’s still plenty of room for disruption in some of the ‘forgotten’ industries like logistics, financial services, and healthcare.

This year, we expect to see new, innovative tech solutions to problems like fleet and cargo management, offshore bookkeeping/accounting, remote healthcare, and sex tech. These are areas that have been somewhat overlooked by the initial zeal of Silicon Valley. In 2020, we’re excited to see how startups can serve these forgotten industries.

Keep an eye out for: new uses for mobile devices, AI, and IoT in industries like logistics, healthcare, retail, and more.


4.Proactive Brands

These days, customers demand more from brands than ever before. Instead of simply solving an existing problem, brands are increasingly expected to anticipate problems and proactively come up with solutions. In other words, brands must know what you’re struggling with before you do.

In 2020, the winning startups will be those that are best at anticipating friction and solving it. The apps and products created by these companies will be full of smart ideas, designed to support the user experience without ever getting in the way.

Keep an eye out for: apps that follow you across devices and locations, adapting their functionality based on where you are and what you’re up to.


5.Internet of Things

Every year, someone will write a long article about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to change the world. Put simply, IoT means connecting everything to the internet. Your car, your microwave, your fridge… everything. And while the industry has made huge strides (Nest, Tesla, the Samsung Smart Fridge) we’re still waiting on that tipping point where suddenly every new startup seems to be excited about IoT.

2020 may be the year. We’re anticipating a surge of interest in wearables, smart home tech, AR, and network-connected vehicles. Even not-so-sexy industries like supply chain management can expect to see more IoT interest and funding this year. But definitely watch out for companies who are making the IoT life even easier by finding new and innovative ways to power sensors that don’t involve Lithium batteries.

Keep an eye out for: more talk about IoT, connecting everything to your phone, and new ideas in wearable tech.


6.Financial Revolution

The banking industry is broken. Traditional brick and mortar branches are simply not innovating fast enough to keep up with the times. What’s more, with consumers increasingly demanding more ethical practices from the brands they’re loyal to, it’s likely that we’ll see some serious disruption to the entire financial industry.

There’s already a few online-first banks giving the oldtimers a run for their money (Motive, Monzo, Triodos, Tangerine etc.). However, with last year’s changes to the European banking system, this year’s news from Japan, and advances in automation, digital security, & more… we feel like 2020 may be the year that consumers begin thinking seriously about where they keep their money.

Keep an eye out for: bigger marketing spend from online banks, more ‘ethical’ banking options, and better support for mobile payment options (Apple pay, Google pay, Venmo etc.) Also, better banking solutions in countries where the current options are fairly dismal.


What did we miss?

It’s fun to dream about all the new and exciting ideas coming to us in 2020. We’re particularly excited – surprise, surprise – about the rising wave of support for positive impact brands and the work they do. Stay tuned, and we’ll continue to highlight impact brands that we feel are truly making a difference (for example).

In the meantime… what did we miss? Feel free to shoot us a quick hello on Twitter and let us know what startup trends you think will be big in 2020.

January 29, 2021
Impact & Inspiration

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