Areas for startups to tackle

Here are some thoughts what areas I would like to see startups to concentrate on during the coming year. Some are real life issues and everyday problems, some just broad thoughts where there might be new developments happening.

Automatically collected structured recommendations and top lists from friends. How often have you wished to know, what your friends read, listen to, watch? Until we have to manually rate or like stuff, it will not work. More data must be collected and processed automatically, transparently.

Personalized content selection. How old-fashioned is it to present all readers of a newspaper with the same news and articles?  Time to grow up and present everyone with their own newspaper, TV channel and mobile portal. Static stuff is dying. Google personalized search results is a step in right direction.

Better social grouping. Saying “friends” in paragraphs above might bring disastrous results. Let’s be frank, we all have nutcases and axe murderers hiding in our social network friend lists. Hoping they all read just intellectual stuff and watch arty movies might not work. Instead you might end up with Dan Brown and Steven Seagal. So we need API-accessible lists and grouping based more on similarities of people, akin Twitter lists. Manual lists might not work, so some automation and algorithm based stuff might be needed.

Cutting out the old middlemen. There are still many intermediaries in all sectors of life, that can be cut off. Based on previous, newspapers and schedule-based TV channels are prime examples: in some parts they are replaced with personalized, search and recommendations based solutions. For other content, many other current portals, destination sites can be replaced with people finding bits and pieces of content or functional small services directly. Two clicks are always better than 3 or 4. This will also erode many current business models, so as a start-up, see where you can bring the current price down or make stuff just simpler to use.

TV add-ons and Internet-enabling. TV is great as a screen and entertainment device, but it needs an Internet connection and real-time action possibilities. These might be either built into the TV set, into set-top boxes, USB add-ons, remote devices, mobile or tablets.

Wearables and mobile phone add-ons. As mobile processor power grows, we should put it to better use via add-ons. Might be health and movement related or just for fun. People love fun!

Health & medical 2.0 and life guidance. Not just software, but also hardware. Just have a gut feeling, there is something boiling. As a biomedical engineering & electronics drop-out, I am fascinated what next years will bring. Even if it takes years for good human-computer interfaces and electronic eye display lenses to go mass market. Then you’ll get your augmented reality.

Multi-channel solutions. Part browser, part mobile, part tablet, part TV – stuff hanging somewhere between them. Some new services will be successful if you use at least 2 of those channels in parallel or in succession.

Anything location-based. We have no idea today where Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp etc will develop. There is a lot of room for others. Be creative.

Social gaming / education. It will be hard to draw a line where entertainment ends and learning begins. It will be a mash of fun, education, socializing, networking, doing business. Just don’t think that business and learning must be serious or that fun and games is a waste of time.

Modern enterprise IT. Let’s be frank, consumer technology is light-years ahead of solutions used in corporate environments. We need more social, more user-generated, more real-time in enterprise.

Saving money. Kind of no-brainer and probably a childish suggestion, but always a good starting point to brainstorm startup ideas. Study what private people and companies spend their money on, list it, analyze it, see if there is something where technology can lower the costs. Also: saving time – analyze, for what we use our personal and employee time.

Please add your ideas, problems, wishes and thoughts in comments. I might be also editing this post as I remember more stuff.

3 Comments

  1. My list of Areas for startups to tackle in 2010:
    1) Do something useful.
    That’s it. Create services that people NEED. Services that help people doing stuff more efficiently.
    So, for me JK nailed the last one: Saving money.

  2. Good points. Some inspiration may also lie in http://www.macworld.com/article/145309/2009/12/10_technologies.html

  3. Nice ideas, and as a fellow dropped out biomed engineer, I see your point with the health 2.0!

    But this desire to further narrow down and define the ideal list of “friends” worries me – then we leave no room for serendipity and we live in constrained, comfortable, closed tribes – nutcases and axe murderers can be fascinating!

    My wish for 2010 is that people get excited by the challenge and fun in trying to see the world from the eyes of “different minded people”, and design software accordingly.

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    Areas for startups to tackle

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