Nowadays, “tech startup hub” is a broad term that doesn’t mean much. Silicon Valley is no longer the ultimate destination for startups as entrepreneurs realize the implications of a broke state with high cost of living and even higher sales taxes. Instead, startup hubs are popping up around the world in areas that offer a more reasonable cost of living, lower or zero income state taxes, and an abundance of talent and resources. That being said, within the startup world there are some up-and-coming niche stars.
If you’re looking to start a small business, or want to work for or invest in a startup, you need to know what’s trending. However, make sure your passion and skillset guide your way. If you have a deep love of baking, for example, and your toffee peanut butter cookies are famous, don’t listen to naysayers who say a bakery business is a lost cause. There are many successful bakers—just take a look at some of the Shark Tank success stories that are steeped in sugar.
Still, there are some niche industries, largely in tech, that are on the verge of a major boom. Here are a few to consider if you think the startup spirit pulses in your veins:
- Home automation. Forget smart phones and cars. What people really want are smart homes. Whether it’s piping and controlling music throughout the home, the ability to open and close garage doors anywhere around the world, or a sprinkler system that’s controlled from your mobile device, smart homes are the future. Home automation is largely why the most expensive home in Britain garnered such a high price tag. People will pay for convenience.
- Conferencing technology. The Digital Era has ushered in the age of telecommuting and virtual offices—but that doesn’t mean meetings are a thing of the past. Sometimes email just won’t do and you need to conference in colleagues from around the world. The latest startups focused on conferencing, such as HipDial, revolutionize how meetings take place, with no wi-fi or elevator music required.
- Co-location services. Co-location services allow small to mid-sized business to enjoy the maintenance and security of their larger counterparts. You buy your own server but rent rack space in a data center that has more security than you could ever manage on your own. These data centers require a lot of space, state-of-the-art technology, and large teams of experts to keep things running smoothly. There are currently more than 1,000 in North America (and counting), but there’s still plenty of time to get in on the ground floor.
- Full-service web hosting. Gone are the days when nobody knew what web hosts do. Now, hosts offer more than domain registration and keeping your website up at least 99 percent of the time. They’re available around the clock to help with search engine optimization (SEO) by speeding things up, and customers are getting more demanding about what they want from a host. It’s relatively simple to start your own web hosting agency with just a single server and some secure office space.
- Reputation management agencies. Your reputation has always mattered in business, but with everything now online—including reviews—it’s more important than ever. Entrepreneurs can charge a pretty penny to clean up online reputations, bury bad content that can’t be removed, and curate good content for clients.
However, the real secret of a successful startup is finding a disparity in the market and filling it. It’s what each of these niches do, but some do it better than others. Whether the idea of conference call technology, co-lo services, or web hosting catches your eye, trust your gut and start with a business plan. It lets you map out your POA before you hit that first bump in the road.
Looking for more insight on innovation and startups? See Your New Product Strategy: Services.