2013 – great opportunities

2012-timetochangeYes, 2013 has finally rolled around. It has taken a year, but here it is. So, this is the best time to wish all of you a great 2013 in which you can fulfill your dreams and chase even bigger ones. The year in which your startup will succeed beyond your expectations. And the year in which you will learn you can be more than you have ever imagined before.

I believe 2013 is a year of endless possibilities. You might think that most of the big successes have been achieved, but I strongly disagree. Yes, Facebook is a huge network and it is going to be hard to take over that position. But nothing is impossible. That is why I would like to share my list of areas in which you can be very successful in the coming year and change the world.

  1. Automotive
    Lets just be honest. Since the invention of the car, not much has changed. I know you will all attack me on this statement, but hear me out. Since the invention of the car, the moment we started moving was the moment our ‘regular’ life stopped and life on the road started. Yes, we have mobile phones in our cars these days, so we can connect to others outside our mobile environments. But there are so many opportunities that are still left open. And just fitting a tablet with 3G to your dashboard is not going to nail it. I believe there is a huge market to make our time on the road more and more part of our ongoing life without restrictions. Waze has started something, but that only allows interaction while navigating. I believe that one of the biggest shakeups in social networks will come through a service that allows me to be as connected on the road as I am at my house or my office. And that will do that in a way that allows me to still be fully concentrated on driving or riding.
  2. Television and performing arts
    In 2012 we have heard a lot of talk about second screens. Allowing you to discuss what you see with countless others that you might or might not know is a step towards building television to be a better experience. However, there is so much more. I am really looking forward to the first creators that understand that even though people are sitting in front of their ‘box’ to be entertained, they are still willing and able to participate. And yes, this goes beyond voting for the next one to leave the show. The same goes for performing arts artists. There has been much talk about how people are becoming less interested in theatre and smaller shows. Big movies and big musical productions still seem to be doing well, but there is so much more to be had in this sphere than the regular sit down and shut up mentality. I am looking forward to startups that are going to be tackling this approach to make full interaction a much easier possibility for these parties.
  3. Financials
    Yes, I can now use an app to wire my money to someone. Really, is this the amount of innovation we were waiting for? I believe there is more. After all, there is much more to my money than ‘parking’ it at a bank. I believe there is a huge opportunity for startups that help us use our money in a positive way again. Perhaps even leaving the complete current banking system behind. After all, so far, banking seems to be about putting money somewhere you trust and having the expectation that you can retrieve it at any time. Perhaps with a bit of profit (interest) if we are really lucky. But is that the end of it all? Back in 2009 I talked to bankers and explained to them that I did not see a reason for regular banks to be very successful anymore. Why? Because I can  get all the services they offer at other -online- provides. Whether it is making payments, storing money for later use (saving), lending money for large purchases or investments or lending others money to multiply it. The only factor that seems to keep the banks in place is legislation. But I believe that there are great opportunities out there that allow me to do more with my money and have more fun and effect from it than I currently can. And in ways that allow me to relate to my money and my opportunities in a more social framework.
  4. Video
    Every phone now has a decent camera. Every laptop has a webcam. And we are watching more online video now than we have ever done before. I know video is a challenging place to be. Some people feel uncomfortable making a video, but I believe there are many opportunities for us still to be explored. I believe video will become a much more important factor in every day life in the near future than we can imagine right now. There still are countless opportunities for video interaction whether real time or not. Video is an avenue that has only been explored as far as we dared to go. And nobody really saw it fit to travel further than the properties that we already knew. Obviously Loïc Le Meur‘s Seesmic started out as a video commenting system and failed to get that off the ground. But that almost seems to have been the most interactive mainstream video startup attempt yet. So, there is a lot of room there for improvement.
  5. Health
    As we are all becoming more and more obsessed with our health, there are great opportunities there as well. Obviously there already are great apps out there that help you loose weight, get fit, run a marathon or outrun zombies. (Sorry.) But there is a multi, multi, multi billion dollar health industry out there that spans the whole wide world. And that is an industry that scares all the governments all around the world as everyone sees the cost of health care rise beyond understanding because of people getting older and older. It is one of the biggest budget challenges that governments have at the moment. And we could make it a lot cheaper if we were able to integrate all our modern technology into tracking your current health, predicting possible problems and offering preventive treatment.

Just five rough areas in which I think there are huge opportunities that I hope to see startups get into in 2013. However, this list is not complete without mentioning context. I know Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are writing a book on the subject and rightly so in my opinion. It is time that we all realize that whatever we build should not be functioning in a vacuum. It should look at the environment in which it is used and pull in information from that environment to make your experience better. Google Glass and Oakley’s Airwave are interesting examples of how external information is combined with digital services to turn whatever you are doing into a much better and much more complete experience. Five years ago, I talked to one of the founders of Layar who told me that “if you are building anything that you are not putting a geotag on, you will be obsolete soon”. His idea about this might not have become reality in the way they had expected, but there are so many outside factors that we are able to combine with services now, that we have to conclude that using context in the right way is going to be changing our online experience completely once again.

So, how can these tips help you beat Facebook? In reality, every single one of them might trigger a revolution that is bigger than Facebook is. Remember, Facebook has only been around eight years and pushed other huge players off the market. Any of these factors, whether it is our mobile life, our entertainment experience, the way we interact through video, how we ‘play’ with our money or how we work with our health can change the way in which we interact with others completely. If the experience is different enough, the social experience is awesome enough and the vision users catch while using it is one they love, it will overtake current day networks. The only thing you need to be able to do is to see beyond the canvas that is there at the moment. See beyond the timeline, beyond the folders and albums that make up social networks. See the people, see their goals and loves. See what motivates them beyond the visible. And you can be on to a winner for 2013.

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