Web 2.0One of the strongest drivers today--is creating new forms of communication, causing drastic market shifts, seeing massive innovation and opening up endless opportunities for entrepreneurs to both develop and take advantage of the technology.
We said it last year, and we'll say it again:Web apps are hot. But what does this really mean for entrepreneurs? Three things: 1. Lots of room for startups: The barriers to entry are low, but the way to stand out is by "solving a real customer problem," saysMichaelMace, principal at Rubicon Consulting. If a web app solves the user's problem, he or she won't hesitate to use it over traditional software. 2. Existing software companies beware: Because web apps replace the functions of traditional software programs sans occupied disk space,many PC users may decide to switch. So Rubicon advises adoptingweb app technologies and practices ASAP. 3. New tools for growing businesses: The myriad business tools in web app form, such as video, accounting, CRM and so on, can help businesses bemore efficient, says Mace, saving themmoney andmaking various information accessible anytime, anywhere.
As more and more people rely on their mobile phones and the web moves to wireless, the mobile apps industry is growing by epic proportions. And the exciting part for entrepreneurs wanting to dial into this hot industry:
• Millions in investmentmoney is flying around.
• Apple and Google have launched third-partymobile app markets.Microsoft will release its version next year.
• The technology is only going to get better. "Mobile is a fresh canvas," says JimBrady, 51, founderof Earthcomber,amobile appthat combinesmapping anduser interestdata.
For Brady, the best ideas are those that bridge gaps: "Bringing technologies together is ideal for the user,"says Brady, who projects 2008 sales of about $700,000 for his River Forest, Illinois, company.
web 2.0 (continued)ONLINE VIDEO
Folks, it's not just about YouTube anymore: Growing businesses must use video. Business websites with video directly translate to increased traffic, says BenjaminWayne, founder and CEO of Fliqz, a provider of plug-and-play video solutions."You unlockmarkets you never had access to."
There are lots of opportunities for startups, especially in the niches, says Wayne. But he warns that it's very expensive and better suited for venture-backed businesses.
Mark Gray, 38, and Michael Hoydich, 37, saw a niche opportunity and launched San Francisco-based UnknownVector Inc. last year. Their product is uvLayer, an interactive presentation layer for watching, organizing and sharing videos.Gray,who expects to have 1million uvLayer users by next year, believes current video host sites are constrained and not user-focused, so he sees lots of room for innovation. Online video must deliver instant gratification to the user, says Gray, "allowing them to get [it] when and where they want."
In the blogosphere, the opportunity for entrepreneurs lies more in the implementation of blogs than in starting a blog-related business. "People are thirsty for knowledge and want their voices to be heard," says Karen Jackie, a blogging expert and principal at ContentRobot. com, and starting a blog "is an easy way for small businesses to tell their story and [let customers join] the conversation." Leveraging this powerful tool requires ongoing commitment, but blogging will become easier with evolving technology, multiauthor efforts and mergers with social networks. Says Jackie,"Blog-powered websites will phase out the lonely, static corporate website."
WEB 2.0 CONSULTING
If your Web 2.0 geek-speak is sub par, then maybe you should hire a knowledgeable outside party. But if you live for all that is Web 2.0, then actually being that knowledgeable outside party could be a profitable venture. That's what Laurie Lohner, 40, did when she startedWi5 Connect with Rico Celis, 31, last year. "Everyone in the business community is scratching their heads," she says. "They know things are important, but don't know what it means for their business."Her Provo, Utah-based firmhelps clients employWeb 2.0 tools. Says Lohner, who projects 2008 sales of nearly $5million,"The companies that are going to succeed in the next three to five years are those that embraceWeb 2.0's power."
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