By Deborah Dixon.
As a new year begins, the startup world finds itself in stranger times than ever. Uncertainty is the word of the moment, with the entrance of a new administration – one that has already proven less than friendly toward the tech industry. And while tech businesses do not comprise the whole of the startup world, predictions and analyses from business outlets and venture capitalists already indicate that tech-based companies will dominate investment in 2017.
Investment in “unicorns” will likely dwindle this year. Venture capitalists were burned enough by them in 2016. On the plus side, this should create more opportunities for smaller, younger startups; on the other, it may exacerbate the risk-averse nature often adopted by investors. Companies in well-trod areas, improving on things that have already been proven, will have the edge – in short, if your business is “the Uber of” some field, run with it. The startups favored to do well by venture capitalists this year are broadly involved in online and app services, particularly shopping and cloud-based applications.
That is not a death knell for manufacturing and other enterprise businesses. The tech world has always been about disruption, and even the most “cautiously optimistic” approach will not change that, especially with the closing gap between software and hardware in Silicon Valley.
For those businesses that do not fall into those categories, viability will continue to be key. Extensive market knowledge and research will offset much of the uncertainty, and creativity plus a demonstrated need still carries appeal. From Discord, a chat app designed for gamers but now looking to take market share from Skype and WhatsApp, to Alit, a website that breaks down costs and eliminates supply links to offer wine at lower prices, fresh ideas and innovations continue to draw the attention of industry experts and investors.
Keep networking, researching, and solidifying your ideas. Despite potential hazards presented by the unknown and untested nature of the incoming administration and its policymakers, 2017 is shaping up to be a solid year for startups, and better for early-stage businesses than previous years have been. Pitch season is open as well. Go forth and build your business this year!