Tech Trends To Watch In 2021

This blog covers three tech trends to watch across the startup world in 2021... these are derived from reading, general observations and my own experience building a startup!

This blog will be covering three trends that I believe are worth watching for throughout the tech startup world in 2021. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some thoughts out on paper surrounding what I believe could be big this year; whether I’m right or wrong with this, it will be a great piece to reflect on in 12 months!

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Tech Startups Founded By Social Media Influencers

Social media influencers have more influence across the globe than ever before in all demographics. In the US, 83% and 89% of social media using men and women respectively in 2019 (1) were inspired to make a purchase from influencer recommendations, which has helped fuel predictions that the influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022 (2).

Having worked in social media marketing for almost 2 years myself, I have seen first hand the power of socials and how influencers can drive their following to certain products, companies or behaviours.

One amazing example of this is MrBeast, who amasses a staggering combined ~12 million Instagram followers as well as 69.2 million subscribers and 9.3 billion views across his Youtube channels (3); making him reportedly the 2nd highest-earning YouTube Creator in the world (4).

MrBeast has used the revenue from his following to fund several projects, including Team Trees (which plans to plant 20 million trees (5)), large donations to homeless shelters across America and, more recently, to start MrBeast Burger.

Mr Beast Burger launched across 300 stores in the US on 19th December 2020 and immediately jumped to #1 in the free app category on the App Store. The app uses a network of ghost kitchens (6) which are delivery only kitchens which sign up to be a Mr Beast Burger Market Partner (7) to tap into MrBeast’s sizeable brand across the US and reach a wider audience. These kitchens also sign up to apps such as UberEats and DoorDash, cutting costs through not having front of house facilities.

This is arguably the biggest example of a social media influencer (and primarily YouTuber) successfully launching a tech startup; using an immense following and reach to overtake many other startups which the same model.

I expect this to become a trend across 2021, with other influencers launching apps, platforms and software which utilises their followers as a beachhead market before scaling to the general public.

With more money, attention and demographics online than ever before, why wouldn’t influencers in the limelight utilise this and piggyback upon their fame?

Integration

After using my Notion setup for almost a year now, I have found myself getting overly critical at other apps, software and platforms which don’t integrate easily with others that I use on a day-by-day basis. Professionals and businesses regularly battle with inefficiencies from their software not working together which usually results in not being able to manage what they use in one central location.

Imagine the time and money wasted daily switching between email, CRMs, to-do lists, company software, websites and other apps that we use. Quite frankly, with the prevalence of APIs across the web, this should be less and less of a problem and I don’t think this is happening at the rate it should be.

Integration in 2021 will primarily be in the form of the creation of software which builds on top of and around multiple existing software, websites and apps, to make them work seamlessly and create synergy. Very much like how open banking has allowed us to manage our different cards in one place, integration across multiple software types will lead to massive gains this year.

I know I bang on about Notion… but their set of current and future integrations should be the standard, as in a world where we use our phones and laptops more than ever, convenience is king.

Micromobility

I have recently moved to Newport, South Wales and live next to the River Usk which has a walkway parallel to it that runs directly under my flat (see below). One thing that has surprised me since I moved here is the number of people (usually male in their teens) using micromobility devices such as Ebikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards and electric pedal-assisted bicycles instead of walking or using a normal pedal bike. While this isn’t new technology, adoption rates are still relatively low and their use is even illegal on UK roads (8), which got me thinking…

Technology adoption often flows up from younger generations; first, your teenage daughter is using it and eventually your grandmother. This was the case for Facebook, increasingly Instagram, selfie sticks, the internet etc. (9) and might just be the case for electric scooters?

Not convinced? Let me explain…

What are some things consumers are willing to pay for?

  • Time

  • Pleasure

  • Convenience

One could argue that electric micromobility devices tick all of these things:

  • They allow people to get to places faster (in some cases) when they want and without having to wait for a taxi/lift to arrive.

  • The effortless speed can give a well-needed adrenaline boost

  • You can get to where you need, without unnecessarily mixing with other people (ticks the COVID box) or getting hot and sweaty, like you might if you cycled, walked or ran.

At present, there is a stigma against scooters whizzing around on and off pavements primarily due to crashes, with 32 reported cases in London during 2019. Having seen first hand how Oslo deals with scooters as a common form of transport, I do believe there is a possibility for safe use of this technology and for accelerating adoption in 2021.

It is no secret that I’m a transportation nerd; having completed a BEng in Civil Engineering, a placement in AECOM’s Transportation Division and a dissertation on drone delivery (check out this video). I am somewhat of a dreamer in this space, but with Lime, Bird and Bolt valued at $2.4 (10), $2.5 (11) and $1.9 (12) billion respectively, it is only a matter of time for eScooter on-demand transport market share to increase significantly.

Final thoughts…

The above three trends are things that I think will become more and more prevalent throughout 2021, and I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think will skyrocket this year! (other than Bitcoin…)

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