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Startup Trends 2016 « The Startup Conference

We reviewed 160 startups that applied for the 2016 Pitch Competition. We can’t reveal any details of course as those startups are sharing confidential information with us, but we can share a few trends…

Last year, drones and VR were hot. This year, they are still going strong, but the market seems to be maturing. More cameras, VR games with new concepts blending reality and fiction, etc.

In case you were living under a rock these last few years, you know that Silicon Valley is booming and hiring is a major problem: companies can’t find enough qualified candidates to hire. So it’s no surprise that hiring is a rising trend this year. Startups are coming up with all kinds of ways to help your company find better candidates, faster and cheaper. Whether the trend will die down is mostly a function of what happens to the economy in the next 18 months. If you were an investor, which way would you bet? Invest in hiring startups or pass?

Founders are still coming up with innovative ideas for new social networks. Remember Secret where everyone was anonymous? While Facebook is crushing it, social networks are still worth a look. Interacting with others is a basic human social need and it’s hard to believe that Facebook can cover it all. There has to be space for some good ideas, the challenge is to figure out which combination of features will prove compelling enough for users to adopt in droves. We are seeing all kinds of ideas: social networks based on who you really are, what you like, what you want to be… It never ends. Big Data is also supposed to help improve social networking.

Talking about Big data, it’s definitely a buzz word, but it’s cooling down a bit. Founders are starting to notice that “Uber for big data” is not a winning pitch. You need to solve a real problem. Big Data can help, but you need some evidence that neural networks or whatever big data technology you plan to use actually find answers that are useful and for which customers are willing to pay for.

It’s a personal opinion, but we still don’t see compelling Internet of Things products. Sure, everyone can slap a bluetooth stack on top of an existing device, but does it make it useful? The jury is still out. Technology is making a lot of things possible, but not all of them actually worth building. Founders seem to do better when they focus on building a great product, which happens to use modern technology, rather than try to stick a “smart” label on an existing product.

Finally, the Bitcoin hype is over. A handful of startups are using the blockchain, but the gold rush is over — which is probably for the best.


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