33 markets ready for a disruption

In this digital age we live in today, entire industries are being disrupted by new business models & new technology more than they have since the beginning of the industrial age. To understand what I mean, look at what these companies have done in these industries.

Skype – Skype brought free global calling to the masses, cutting significantly into the long distance business of the telecom industry. Skype also made video conferencing mainstream, something  you would think would have come from one of the global telecom giants but didn’t.

Apple – The iphone and smartphones in general have disrupted many industries including land lines, watched, alarm clocks, compasses, printed mapping, dicta-phones, portable music, photography and the retail music industry just to name a few. This will continue as the invention of the App economy works to reinvent many activities.

Wikipedia – Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia has disrupted this industry so much that the former market leader Encyclopædia Britannica ended print production after 244 years in 2012.

Amazon – Amazon has disrupted the book publishing & retailing industry significantly and even the cloud services industry which isn’t that old. Amazon continues to disrupt with many of it’s new products and services.

Change is the only constant and if the past 30 years says anything, the disruption is just beginning which is exciting for those that like to disrupt the status quo.

If you’re wondering where the next big opportunities are going to be, here is a list of markets ready for significant disruption. These were submitted by people responding on Quora to “What are some $10B+ markets ripe for disruption?“& “What are the set of problems that young entrepreneurs should focus on that will yield the next $100 billion companies?” and other resoruces sited below.

33 Markets Ready for Disruption

  1. Education: There is a ton of value created by educating the masses in emerging and under-developed markets and those able to capture this value will do very well.
  2. Construction: 3D printing is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream phenomenon. And yet, contractors are still driving their big trucks over to Home Depot.
  3. Insurance: Micro and Peer insurance (everything can be insured,  and people can insure other people)
  4. Water rights and distribution: the clean water we are polluting for natural gas wells will soon be worth more than any form of gas
  5. Loans: who gives them and how people get them (micro and peer financing)
  6. Prime Time TV lineup: this will be all on demand and will change TV advertising forever
  7. The legal profession: Simple contracts could be generated and processed by machine at far, far lower cost than a lawyer’s hourly rate. Some legal documents could be modeled as graphs of conditions and outcomes, which could then be compared with tree-diff algorithms and annotated with other data.
  8. Intellectual Property: Consider the black box of patent applications, as well as the aftermarket (or lack thereof) for IP. “Patent Troll” is the latest buzz word; individuals or firms pick up bulk lots of IP on the secondary market and file suit against major companies for infringement, hoping for a big win. However, what if there were a more transparent and readily accessible market for IP?
  9. Financial Services & Wall Street: Read what Chris Dixon says about disrupting Wall Street.
  10. Data Informatics: Corporations and professional services firms can pay upwards of six-figures for limited (annual or even monthly) access to certain specialized data stores. While some data pools are proprietary, pulling information from truly unique sources that cannot be duplicated, others are currently providing nothing more than the service of aggregation and dissemination of publicly available data.
  11. Insurance: It is a black box, from the way in which “risk” is calculated by individual companies, to the way in which claims are assessed for validity and payout. Having just received new insurance, I am reminded of the obscure legalese used in even the most basic of customer facing communications – I dare you to show me an insurance company that is transparent in its communications, or even one with a customer experience better than that of an armed robber.
  12. Politics: Campaign spending alone stretches into the billions when looking at the top 2-3 levels of government. Consider aggregate spending on campaigns at all levels, in addition to significant sums spent on lobbying and other related activities. Disruption would certainly be difficult in this space, but there are examples of companies already attempting, and succeeding in some cases, to disrupt particular verticals.
  13. Real Estate: The fact that a 5% commission is extracted by the brokers for matching buyers and sellers is today’s information age is outrageous.  The buy side of the market is very opaque with little visibility into who is interested in buying what and where.  Crack that nut and you are the next Zuckerburg.
  14. Moving industry: A 16 billion/year industry formed mostly from small players. 50 companies have 45% of the market. The rest are small players, companies with under 10 employees.
  15. Packaging: In USA alone the CPG industry size is $2Trillion + [1]!  Anywhere between 10% to 40% of that money is spent for the packaging of the product.  That is the cardboard, polythene, plastic, paper etc meant for covering the actual product.
  16. Recycling: There’s still so much we can do to recycle effectively.  There’s a huge opportunity here, but I wonder if we’ll capitalize on it only after we reach a higher level of scarcity.
  17. Landfill Resource Reclamation: As we continue to come to terms with resource scarcity, we’ll dig deeper into our own trash heaps to reclaim re-usable materials.
  18. Battery Technology: If we can make tiny batteries that never have to be recharged and that don’t cause a nuclear melt down we will advance tremendously.
  19. Fast Food: The fast food industry is known to deliver more than a quick ready to go meal. Fast food also delivers some of the highest calorie foods eaten during a typical day.  fast healthly food will change this industry.
  20. Software Operating Systems: The cloud is gaining ground quickly.  OS’s that don’t require booting, installing, or updating by the user are surely preferred over those that do.
  21. Rare Earth Metals: This enormous industry, it has mostly been pushed into China were extraction labor costs are low enough to be economical. However, with >50lbs of rare earth metals under the hood of your typical Prius or EV – substitutes are needed as China cuts supply (recently announced that <50% of China-mined rare earth metals were available for export).
  22. Payments: While PayPal never quite lived up to it’s vision of displacing the major processors (Amex, Visa, MasterCard), this area is beginning to heat up again. 2%+ cost for each transaction is the reason $24T of B2B transactions are still completed using paper check.
  23. Low Cost Distributed Energy and Sanitation solutions: Developing countries have a large need for dirt cheap, compact local energy and sanitation solutions, but the same applies to many of the developed countries too. Who wouldn’t like the prospect of generating their own energy with small solar panel or other green energy solution? This is especially true when the electric grid becomes unreliable or cost of energy hikes up rapidly
  24. Diamond retailing: No major disruptions as of yet. This is a $72 billion a year market. Bluenile.com, the biggest online player, does about $350 million a year in revenues.
  25. The gambling industry: Currently unregulated in half the world (Thailand, India etc) and most bettors go through bookmakers with high fixed odds. With online betting exchanges (Betfair, Smarkets) you get the best prices because of efficient markets and high volume/liquidity.
  26. Sewing garment factories: as clothing companies get into “fast fashion”, there needs to be a better way to find, vet and analyze factory capacity and order.
  27. Medical Devices: Most big companies have commoditized existing equipment (esp.Surgical Devices). Much of the new features being added are bells and whistles to justify a price hike or reduce liability. There are a lot of opportunities in their improvement and total replacement.
  28. Healthcare: Simply put, healthcare is not working and it will get worse as the population ages. Effcientcies need to be created or this will bankrupt governments.
  29. Weddings: A 74+ Billion dollar industry that’s fragmented and highly inefficient, probably the last industry left where consumers still shop from a trade show, magazine or google search.
  30. Business productivity software: Right now, 100s of millions of people are using Microsoft Office on PCs, while their kids are using smartphones, tablets and web applications. The future belongs to collaboration and productivity apps designed for this new reality.
  31. Taxation: The tax system is another system designed for and by accountants. If the congress can get a simple(r) tax system designed and implemented, the entire accounting system as we know it today will be turned on its head. (which means they’re probably pretty safe)
  32. Automobile sales and marketing: Particularly at the dealer levels – if you’ve ever purchased a car you’ll realize this industry is completely broken. Car dealers are packed full of sales people who don’t understand the difference between sales and marketing, particularly online advertising.
  33. Mattresses: They cost too much for what they are. Someone needs to disrupt this market.

Sources

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Establishing a Startup Ecosystem in Squamish

Business Startups are the economic engines that drive innovation and progress in today’s hyper-connected global economy and it’s Startup Communities that are at the center of this revolution.

Startup communities are entrepreneur ecosystems. They’re being created around the world in small and large cities like Boulder Colorado, Vancouver, Iceland and Russia to name just a few. These communities are driving innovation, creating jobs and invigorating small business energy. Simply stated; start-up communities attract and breed entrepreneurs who go on to build companies like AirBnB, Dropbox, Sendgrid and many, many more.

Squamish is a small town with big ideas currently going through a transformation. It was once a forestry town that’s now transforming into an outdoor recreation tourism destination. It’s challenged in finding ways to create local jobs and to evolve into a sustainable, self sufficient community. The population is growing quickly but the local job market is not keeping pace.

English: Squamish main street taken by Jess La...
Squamish, BC

Squamish is my community, I love this place and I want to see it succeed and prosper. It’s beautiful and has the ability to provide what I consider the best work-life balance opportunity in Canada.  That may sound biased but for me and many others, it’s the truth. There’s an abundance of great activities at our doorstep and this is what mainly brought me to Squamish in the first place. However, the challenge to completing the work-life balance equation is local jobs. Like me, there are many people that commute to Vancouver or Whistler for work and therein lies the challenge.

How do we create jobs and transform Squamish into a great place to live, work and play?

The solution to me is simple in theory. Jobs come from businesses and businesses come from entrepreneurs so it seems logical to me to find, attract, nurture and support entrepreneurs. One proven way to do this is by establishing and growing an inclusive startup ecosystem.

Startup communities are not something new. Author, entrepreneur & investor, Brad Feld is the co-founder of TechStars; a mentor-driven business accelerator in Boulder Colorado that has succeeded at building one of the most successful models for startup communities. Boulder has an incredible Startup Community. Brad’s authored several books including Startup Communities, Do More faster, and Venture Deals.  All great books I have read and that have inspired me and given me great knowledge and guidance on this subject.

“The effect on the local startup community in Boulder has been even more amazing than we anticipated. Boulder has developed a culture of sustained mentorship, where new founders place great value on seeking out mentors, and experienced entrepreneurs generously offer their time and expertise. This mindset makes the community better as a whole and it helps everyone in the community be more successful.”

To get a better understanding of exactly what I’m talking about, this great video gives a quick explanation of what a startup community is and what it needs to be successful. These lessons can be applied in Squamish or anywhere, to establish a local vibrant startup ecosystem.

The Key Points of making this a reality in any community

  • It takes long term commitment. (20 years) Creating a entrepreneurial ecosystem is a marathon not a sprint.
  • The entire entrepreneurial stack needs to be engaged.
  • Startup communities need leaders & feeders
    • Leaders must be entrepreneurs
    • Feeders are government, lawyers, accountants, angel investors, venture capitalists & educational institutions & marketers
  • Continually attracting and recruiting fresh people into the system

“In order for Techstars to be effective, there have to be the best mentors in the community who are ready and willing to participate and who understand the “give first” culture that is so important to successful startup communities. When you have a whole community behind you, rooting for you to win, and making connections for you—it’s a huge, unfair advantage.”

What’s being done for startups with Techstars in the past 7 years is fascinating and exciting in that the mentorship-driven accelerator model is and has been duplicated in over 1000 local communities around the world with great success.  Techstars has helped fund over 100 companies a year, and they have more than $70 million under management.

If Squamish wants to create a sustainable economy well into the future, it needs to look at new solutions for creating jobs and I feel that creating an active, vibrant startup community is a long term solution to our present day challenge.

How to lose $10 million a minute

That’s what it can cost when you implement technology systems poorly. A news story today about Knight Trading losing over $440 million dollars due to “a computer glitch” from a recent implementation of a new trading system reminds me of the resistance I have often experienced from leaders of organizations on how to implement new technology systems.

Like I’ve talked about before, Enterprise change needs to be executed in the order of the People, Process, Technology. This concept has been proven over and over again, yet many of today’s old school executives think “it’s just a technology upgrade” and proceed to implement it without focusing on the people and processes that will change due to the upgrade. They don’t dedicate the right type and amount of resources and think you can just muscle in a new system. I’ve seen it many times from inexperienced Sr. executives that don’t understand technology, don’t embrace project management best practices and don’t have a good working relationship with the IT department. They think project management, governance, business analysis and documentation add too much cost to a project and therefore discount it’s usefulness. The thinking that using a project methodology adds too much red tape to the process of implementing technology is a clear sign that you’re in way over your head.

Knight Trading’s experience highlights a great example of what can go wrong on technology projects when poor leadership, planing and governance are not in place. I don’t know the details of exactly what went wrong but having been apart of many large software implementations I would bet this “glitch” had more to do with leadership, planing and governance than it did with technology.

8 ways to fail in a leadership role

#1 Don’t have a vision or goals

Having a vision is for losers that want to succeed. It’s better to run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off than it is to have a vision of where you are going. Visions only bring teams together to accomplish big things. If that’s what your trying to avoid, definitely skip the vision creation step.

#2 Leave your passion at home

Passion is for romance movies and sissies and is better left outside of work. No one wants to see you excited about working let alone excited about your job. Better to have an attitude or chip on your shoulder so people stay away. Passion is addictive so be careful. Any sign of passion and you may just get a few followers. Yikes!

#3 Procrastinate and don’t make decisions

Although making decisions seems important on the surface, It’s not if you want to be a bad leader. People like to be kept on their toes by those that lead them and keep them guessing. It’s a good way to waste everyone’s time and make people frustrated and besides, people love to have to ask for something 3,4 or even 5 times. Remember no decision is a decision, just not a popular one.

#4 Build a reputation where people don’t want to work with or for you.

If everyone thinks your a jerk, chances are you won’t get bothered by many people let alone have to lead them. This leaves time for surfing the internet and other non work related activities. This one works really well over time. As the knowledge of you being a jerk travels, less and less people will want to interact with you and more people will resist you and even sabotage you. This is one of the best ways to fail in leadership roles. Piss people off and you will succeed at failure very quickly

#5 Hide in the ivory tower

Closed door policies are the best ones for leaders that want to fail. You don’t want all the underlings in your company just walking in to your office talking to you telling you about ideas to save money or make money. The worst leaders hide in their office and only come out to complain about some injustice of some failure that someone else did. The more people see you as an untouchable god, the better.

#6 Command and Control

Command and control leadership has been successful for years in the military. It’s simple, when people don’t do what they are told, you treat them like crap until they comply. The name says it all, Command and Control your team and watch the resentment grow. You will be on your way to failing as a leader before you know it.

#7 Don’t share your knowledge

You worked hard to get to where you are and sharing your knowledge and experience just may make people like you and want you to lead them. Don’t do it. Young people like leadership and want to be mentored but why would you want to do that.

#8 Resist Change

Although change is the only constant in life and in business. You must resist it at every turn. Changes cost money and generally make things better but if you want to fail as a leader, you must no accept change in any way.

There you have it. My 8 ways to fail in a leadership role. Do these things and you will fail very fast. Do the opposite and you will most likely succeed as a leader.

Do you have any great tips on how to fail as a leader? I would love to hear about them. Post a comment below.