New Niches for Startups Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Remote work and social distancing. These two approaches will define our lives behind 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has put everyone into a new reality. The transition from our traditional lifestyle to isolation mode was anything but smooth. The whole world had to learn how to work and learn remotely and organize their leisure without leaving their homes. But the lockdown has also created a few niches for startups that no one could think of before.
A few months ago, we couldn’t imagine the world without public transport and traffic jams, busy restaurants and shopping malls, crowded parties and concerts. Now it is here. Governments shut down the long-awaited innovation programs to invest in healthcare technology — the industry that is getting the most attention nowadays. And for millions of people around the world, real-life has gone online — with evolving online shopping, online classes, and even online parties.
Despite restrictions easing in the vast majority of countries, no one can say when the lockdown will be completely over. Do we return to our normal lives this summer? Or the coming two years will be shaped by social distancing due to possible pandemic comeback?
One thing is already clear: we are in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate has increased drastically. Many small businesses shut down; great economies enter the recession. This doesn’t sound optimistic, right?
But things are not that bad. The crisis opens many possibilities, as well. Here we discuss four industries that are experiencing a hard upgrade right now. If you want your company to be at the edge of improvements — hurry up and discover the potential startup niches!
Remote interaction — the new reality for private communication
For years, Zoom was a niche solution for online conferences and video calls. Since February 2020, it is the number one platform for all kinds of events: from birthday parties and blind dates to university classes and even city council meetings.
Currently, this is a forced measure, but experts predict that virtual meetings will become a substantial part of our reality even after the pandemic is over. Generation Z (also called Zoomers — what a coincidence!) prefer online communication to personal meetings. But the tools currently available still can’t provide the whole spectrum of features the young users are searching for. And this is one of the niches for a startup founder to investigate.
What do the myriad of online communication tools miss? User orientation, social features, and entertainment.
Zoom and the alike were built exclusively for business needs. Companies that couldn’t afford a custom internal communication system opted for a cost-effective SaaS solution. Their functionality fits the conference room, but not a virtual family lunch or a coffee-break. Zoom security issues are also a reason to look for alternatives.
Some of the tools start to play with enabling masks or changing backgrounds, but the complex solution for entertaining group calls is about to arrive.
There’s still the gap. And this is one of the potential startup niches to hit with a new app, right?
First of all, analyze the apps popular among Zoomers right now. What features make them so unique? Filters, instant reactions, microformats, geolocation, augmented reality or interactive 3D models, built-in mini-games, group film streaming, etc. — any idea could be the game-changer.
To the door delivery — eliminating the need for traditional shopping
E-commerce was developing gradually, but it seemed like the full transition to online shopping was still a few decades away. Some buyers were not ready to decide on the product without having seen it with their own eyes; some others didn’t trust the seller they can’t personally talk to.
And now we are here. The only type of shopping that is available during the lockdown is online shopping. And it turns out that basically everything can be delivered to the door: food, cosmetics, consumer electronics, furniture, gardening tools, and pet care products. Now that everyone was forced to try e-commerce, they could evaluate the convenience of the process and a chance to save much time. And after taking this first step, many won’t even return to classical shopping.
We already watch online commerce making a great leap ahead. And when speaking of global e-commerce trends, to-the-door delivery is definitely one of the strongest ones. So we expect a growing number of P2P logistics services. This seems like one of the solid startup niches, right?
The international companies of on-demand delivery like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Glovo focused on food delivery from restaurants first. Now they expand their services and are ready to bring anything to the door of their clients. However, high-quality delivery is still not available in the majority of smaller cities all around the globe. This means millions of people are waiting for a local company to satisfy their needs.
Until such a solution appears, local businesses hire carriers or cooperate with taxi companies to deliver their products while clients choose to stay home.
For many small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic was an impulse to go beyond their physical shops and start selling online. E-commerce is booming, so do related services like delivery.
Education erasing the borders
If this crisis happened twenty or even ten years ago, millions of teachers and tutors, music and art instructors, fitness trainers would become unemployed in the blink of an eye. The lockdown would make their further work impossible as such.
However, the technologies we have in 2020 make education, art, and sport accessible to everyone at home. And what is even more important — online classes have no geographical limits. You can have an online session with a trainer from the gym on the opposite side of the street, or join the online training held by the Olympics champion.
Just as online shopping, e-learning was available for years. However, only a few of us have tried learning remotely. The reasons? Some complain about the lack of personal contact and instant feedback from the instructor; the others question their motivation and the ability to do their best while not being observed by a teacher.
But the lockdown happened, and thousands of people were at home without the possibility of visiting schools and universities, art classes, language courses, and sports sections. They have a lot of free time, and they are bored with four walls. However, they have the internet. So the time for online classes and training sessions comes. Many users have tried remote learning for the first time, and they are likely to keep the tradition after the quarantine is over.
Online education as one of the prospective startup niches.
What does this mean for the teachers, artists, fitness instructors, etc.? The geographical limits are down. Even living in a village, you can have hundreds of clients from any part of the country or even abroad.
Learning centers, language schools, fitness centers, and art clubs have the needed resources for a great leap. Adopt e-learning to expand to new markets.
There are many platforms for online classes on the market; none of them is perfect, though. Consider it as one of the possible startup niches. You can build a software tool to make remote classes even more effective, or provide a marketplace platform for individual tutors. This type of application will be of great importance in the next few years.
On the other hand, think of the perspectives of the academic year 2020–2021. The chances are that it may be interrupted by the new wave of coronavirus. And this time, schools and universities want to be ready for this. Now they are working on the programs of remote classes and experimenting with different technical solutions.
Some renowned universities can afford the development of custom learning platforms. The rest of the educational facilities is looking for a ready solution to fit the needs of both professors and students. If you have deep experience in this domain, developing a Software as a Service platform for universities and colleagues may be a chance you shouldn’t miss.
Entertainment has gone online
The COVID-19 lockdown has taken work and education to online. The same happened to the entertainment industry. Now when cinemas are closed, we want to watch movies online. When a so awaited music festival is canceled, we want to listen to our favorite band online.
Our Italian vacation was postponed, but we still want to enjoy the wine and pizza while watching an online excursion around Venice.
When we can’t hang out with friends, we are looking for new fascinating things we can do together online. Something like an online game or a simultaneous cooking session?
The online entertainment is getting huge benefits from the coronavirus crisis. Basically, the industry got rid of all the competition overnight. No more hard choices like “Should I go out with friends tonight, or would I better watch another season of that hot show.” Everyone chooses the show now. And there is no clear evidence that the situation will change soon. Startup niches in the entertainment industry look especially attractive now.
Streaming services, games, and other types of online entertainment are booming. Will this remain the same after the lockdown when (or if?) the competition with offline events is back? Everything depends. At this time, new habits are born. If the new service manages to become a routine for a particular group of users — the exam is passed, it will still be popular after we are again allowed to enjoy our lives to the fullest.
How to hook your users?
Analyze the new gaps that appeared in everyday life.
One day we used to go to the cinema with friends, eat popcorn, whisper funny comments to your neighbor, and discuss the movie with all the group afterward. This option is definitely missed now. And Netflix has it covered with its new service Netflix Party. It enables you to share the watch the link to a movie or TV show with your friends, watch it simultaneously and exchange reactions, comments, or screenshots in real-time. More than 1,000,000 people already use Netflix Party, and the number will keep increasing during (and most likely after) the lockdown.
This is an example of how a simple solution has covered the needs of thousands of people.
It is much easier to enter the online entertainment industry now than it was a few months ago. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so don’t miss it.
What to expect from 2020 and beyond?
Unfortunately, many businesses won’t survive the coronavirus crisis. But a few of them will adjust to the new reality. Those who are brave and wise will quickly innovate. We watch companies and individuals seeking ideas to make social distancing more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.
These innovators will succeed.
Image Credit: Elly Fairytale; Pexels
New Niches for Startups Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic was originally published on ReadWrite on June 12, 2020 by Sofiya Merenych.