7 startup trends for 2013

Lately I’ve been following heavily the start-up community, getting involved in the Miami startup movement, advising and mentoring - but ultimately, it’s a lean/mean innovation machine, indicator of future experiences, and there are great opportunities to marry the start-up and agency world :: innovation + story telling + brands.

Here’s a shortlist of trends to follow in 2013.

1- Cloud infrastructure SaaS & Security

This trend is not new, but I think it is cyclical, and the first wave has faded out in 2011. Cloud services is the fastest growing web hosting product at the moment, cloud services is said to reach a market value of $48bn, some say 10% of all IT spendings will be made in cloud services; the trend is clearly going up and not planning on decelerating in the next 5-10 years.

Why a trend in 2013?, Github still growing, Google Cloud introduced earlier this year to compete with Amazon Web Services, Amazon lowering prices, introducing big-data services, more companies have a foot in the cloud and services are getting cheaper and easier to scale than dedicated or VPS hosting. And with a new generation of companies in this sector, 2013 will make it hot again.

Cloud is becoming ubiquitous, now having storage, computing, backups, big data analysis and processing, data collection and aggregation, communications - you name it. It’s making it easier and easier for startups and connect the dots, wire core services together, and form a new innovative service. Cloud is making it easier than ever to fulfill the tech stack of any startup, allowing [the few who can] to focus on the business.

2- Webservices, APIs and the Internet of things

Last year, I overheard this quote on Twitter from different conferences: “Do you have a website?” is so old school today’s question is “Do you have an API?”. But already two years ago I started wishing I had the time to create a proper online documentation of all web services.

In the past 10 years, developers started to widely adopt REST APIs instead of SOAP or other less convenient options. Facebook platform opened up, OAuth appeared on every other page we all visit and then mobile apps came around and APIs made the web a richer place. Rare are the sites or solutions today which are not interconnected in any way to any other website. All companies with a web presence either have APIs or are considering them, so this is a huge opportunity.

Now with the Internet of things (IoT, any object having a unique virtual representation online, code or URI) being just a step towards software agents embedded in most objects and interconnected, 2013 is about to see a whole lot more devices and services interacting with each other. No one company will be able to establish their protocol as a unique standard and the number of APIs to deal with will reach 100,000s.

And because interconnection brings so much value, there are more and more possibilities in the vertical to position new services:

  • Kinvey offers a Facebook/Google enabled backend for mobile apps,
  • Gigya, LoginRadius and Janrain offer user management and social platform
  • Mashape offers an API marketplace for free and paid web services
  • APIgee offers a delivery and security platform
    But these are just the beginning of a much needed market that will grow enormously.

Now, I’ve always said the IoT will only fully take place in 2010, and I still believe that … but with Nest, Quantified self, Healthcare, fitness and wellness personal tracking devices, we’re adding data to the cloud and soon it will take off on a life of its own.

3- 3D Printing

Even though I’m personally not a big fan, it is evidently about to become huge. While still in its infancy, new printers like Makerbot’s Replicator 2 today remind me of the Apple II while their first printer was very much like the Apple I. We do not know yet how much 3D printing will change small businesses and our lives, but we know the impact will be huge. 2012 has been an important year with a lot of new cheaper products, mass production such as 3d vending machines, and being part of this revolution in 2013 must be fantastically fun!

4- (Equity) Crowd funding

Next April, Kickstarter will turn 4 years old, only. And it is in 2012 that the most well known crowd funding service had its 10 largest project funded (for $2.2 to $10.2m). But 2012 was also the year when equity funding established itself in many European countries.

Following Obama’s signature into law of the JOBS act, and SEC work following it, next year will be the year of equity crowd funding in the US and with it many marketplaces and related services opening up. Crowd funding is estimated to reach $500bn annual transactions, and if it begins next year to approach that scale, it will certainly transform the way startups and studios are financed.

5- Ubiquitous (mobile) payment solutions

Many things are happening with mobile payments, from the slow arrival of NFC enabled devices and payments (Google Wallet), to payment systems on mobile devices (Square and iZettle), social mobile payments (Payson Payd), mobile banks and even mobile payments built-in from within other product’s core (Uber). Most of these companies hit some very important establishment or growth milestones this year and will grow much bigger and wider next year.


But the second aspect of mobile payment solution is, what do you do when we all have payment enabled mobile devices with layers of social and geo-location? Very large companies are tackling the technicality of allowing us to pay or receive money with our cellphone only, but ther is a vast spectrum of services to offer by building on this stack. This is the question that some companies like Wrapp are starting to answer, but many more will launch in the coming 18 months once the first technical layer is representing a larger market.

We spent some time earlier with year at Sapient and built an amazing tons of materials and papers on this … check out this infographic for a good summary and what’s to come.

6- Quantified self: Healthcare, fitness and wellness personal tracking

This new (in popularity) area called Quantified Self has been made popular in the past months by the explosion of mainstream devices to track physical activity or inactivity and with their companion mobile applications giving personal and ever more relevant feedback. Some well known devices are the Fitbit Tracker, Nike+ Fuelband or Wakemate

Quantified self is also made possible by contextual mobile application allowing us to track many different moments of our lives and collect immense amount of information. A good example is the company I just joined, ShapeUp Club.

But this area is not only about healthcare and fitness, and new devices like Memoto are now appearing. The quantity of products means there will be more and more interactions, and extremely large quantity of data for other companies to offer services on too. 2013 will certainly be an important year for Quantified Self related companies and markets.


7- Big(-ger) data

Big data started as an engineering field or solution but has created a market of products, consulting and SaaS. I believe it has been used too often and for too many cases. VCs have been looking to invest in Big Data and suddenly everyone with a slightly large database was doing big data. In fact, VCs are so hot on big data that they’re almost blindly singing checks for any big data startup.

The past couple of years we’ve produced more data than the entire history of the Internet (some say humanity). We’re only scratching the surface of big data and very few businesses know what to do with all the data they have.

Foursquare for example is now sitting on one of the most valuable mapping of our cities with geo and social behavior connected to actual businesses and other places. Mobile wallets and gifting services are generating huge amount of commerce data where patterns can be found. But mostly, any small business. For small companies, integrating with mobile and social giants is now growing faster and collecting more data than their core business allow them to scale for; big data is becoming an increasingly interesting SaaS or PaaS opportunity such as the company Mortar to allow anyone to store or make sense of the underlying information.

There is a need companies are willing to pay to fulfil and we will see more innovative solutions emerge in the coming months.

Data by itself is becoming a commodity - almost a burden; but analysis, context, and insights is the new gold. Companies will invest in providing better experiences, in predicting behavior, in increasing odds of success.

Eventually (not 2013), we will start to see context exchanges and an entire eco-system formed by context brokers and agents.

[credits: ngrasset]