2020 has been an absolute disaster from a business standpoint. The highly infectious nature of the coronavirus has forced entire countries into a state of extended lockdowns. As a result, thousands of businesses have been forced to shut their doors and millions have been left unemployed.
While there has been positive news with regards to the development of a vaccine, there is still a long way to go.
There remains the question of vaccine distribution and the extensive damage that was inflicted on the global economy.
4 Startups Predictions in 2021
Despite some optimism with regards to the speed at which the economy appears to be recovering, the effect of extensive borrowing and excess capital injections is yet to be felt.
As 2020 draws to a close, we take a look into the future and assess what 2021 has in store for startups and their owners.
1. The emergence of agro startups
Farming has always been an archaic and outdated industry that required vast tracts of land and manpower.
The global lockdown initiated by the COVID pandemic highlighted the faults inherent in an overly extended supply chain. Now, we see some people have started to grow their own crops at home, sometimes as a hobby during the pandemic.
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For example, recent new Lakers signing, Marc Gasol, who could fit in BetAmerica list of most underrated NBA players of all time, has already declared his love for farming. According to a 2017 interview in the Wall Street Journal, Gasol grows his own fruits and veggies.
And, if even an NBA star who is quite wealthy and busy, has time and patience to do this, the regular joe will be even more likely to follow in the footsteps: and possibly find new niches in the agro-industry.
With various countries shutting their borders, ports all over the world have struggled with massive congestion. This turn of events has thus made it impossible for shipping vessels to unload their goods.
For countries heavily reliant on food imports to keep their populations fed, the question of food security will now come into play.
Will countries be able to sustain themselves in the event of another lockdown? How will its citizens contend with spiraling food costs and massive unemployment?
The answer thus lies with technology. From hydro to aqua and even aeroponics, fruits and vegetables can be grown without the use of soil in a limited space.
This would allow food to be grown within the city and in an entirely controlled environment thus reducing the length of the supply chain and increasing the quality of produce.
Because of this, 2021 could very well be the year where we see an increase of agro-based startups. Urban farming for example, allows farmers to grow their crops in dense city areas where land comes at a premium.
2. Startups becoming exclusively remote
One of the most interesting developments of 2020 can be seen in how various enterprises were able to continue operating remotely for an extended period of time.
While telecommuting and work-from-home arrangements were previously seen as a privilege or even perk it has now become a necessity.
From reduced operating costs i.e. no rental or utility payments to increased staff satisfaction, an increasing number of businesses have recognized the benefits that come with remote-working.
Some companies have even allowed employees to perpetually work from home even after the pandemic passes. Thanks to video conferencing technology and the digitization of our economy, employees no longer need to be physically present at work.
This means that startups of the future may not even require an office and be composed of professionals from all over the world working in different timezones.
3. An even greater push for fintech solutions
Fintech or financial technology has long been present in the marketplace. However, the events of 2020 have shown us that the traditional banking and financial services model is outdated.
Even with the development of a COVID vaccine, it is highly likely that customers will continually push for zero contact options. Arguably, the outbreak of COVID has increased tech literacy across the board on an unparalleled scale.
From e-wallet payments in Asia to online shopping and banking, an increasing number of users have begun appreciating the convenience of these fintech solutions.
Thus, as we enter into 2021, startups will likely be working on further improving their offerings or introducing entirely new applications.
Governments themselves may even turn to e-wallet solutions as a means of encouraging cashless payments.
The Malaysian government illustrates this point perfectly through their use of Grab and Touch ‘n’ Go e-wallets – to distribute government aid payments whilst encouraging cashless transactions throughout the country.
4. Tech solutions for the logistics industry
Whilst most industries were hit hard by the COVID pandemic, the logistics and e-commerce sectors thrived as a result of widespread lockdowns.
From groceries to hairdryers, eCommerce has made it possible for anyone to buy just about anything online. With just a few clicks and a credit/debit card, you can have your purchases delivered right to your doorstep.
2021 is set to be no different with many becoming accustomed to the ease and convenience of online shopping. Logically speaking, the next step for e-commerce and logistics services providers would be to further improve deliveries.
In an age of instant gratification and with increased competition, consumers will begin pushing for same-day deliveries to be made possible.
Amazon has been a leader in this area, making use of drone technology to make deliveries – but as technology continues to advance, it will be interesting to see what the next step would be.
Whether it’s evolving business models or leveraging on technology to enhance services, 2021 will be an exciting time for startups. All that remains is for us to sit back and watch how things will change.
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