Every year, new business models, marketing strategies and compelling technologies disrupt markets. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to make an impact and wondering where the next big opportunities are, take a look at these markets ripe for disruption in 2018.
1. Mobile banking
Mobile -banking apps are not just a convenience for consumers; they've become a necessary part of the banking system. But, as peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo increasingly eliminate the need for consumers to access cash, it’s critical for mobile banking services to include features that allow for streamlined online and mobile payments.
According to Business Insider, “It’s clear that banks must continue to throw their considerable resources into digital offerings” in the new year.
2. Sports trauma
The sports industry is ripe for disruption in at least two major sectors. Despite a newfound scientific understanding of the impact of head injuries and concussions on players’ long-term health, no startup has managed to design a desirable, marketable helmet design to reduce head trauma.
Two athletic equipment companies, Riddell Sports Group and Schutt Sports, own 90 percent of the multi-million dollar football helmet market, and the majority of helmets out there look and function almost exactly the same way as they have for decades; so the disruptor that designs a helmet embraced by the NFL or NCAA stands to make a lasting impact (and significant profit).
3. Energy and the environment
The green movement is just as on trend as ever, as environmentally friendly practices become widely incorporated in nearly every industry. The price of solar energy now costs less than fossil fuels in 30 countries, and Tesla’s lead in designing more attractive solar panels could help transform the energy industry.
It turns out that just about anything can be made greener and may potentially disrupt entire industries while making an enormous environmental impact. Example? A startup called bioMASON grows bricks from bacteria just as quickly as bricks can be manufactured in a kiln -- potentially reducing millions of tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere. As consumers continue to become more eco-conscious, the energy and environmental industries will become ever more ripe for disruption.
4. Education and learning
The edtech industry is experiencing tremendous growth: Startups are developing intuitive technology capable of interacting with students in more sophisticated ways and of more closely modeling a human instructor or tutor.
Meanwhile, a growing number of schools and startups have become dedicated to completely changing how teachers and students spend classroom time. The American educational model needs innovation, making this another market that startups should explore, for explosive growth in 2018.
5. Construction and design
If you’ve ever built a home, you probably understand how outdated the system has become. Not only does it cost a fortune to work with architects and contractors, but they almost never stick to the plan or the budget; and they still rely almost exclusively on hand-drawn calculations and measurements, paper-based admin systems and big trucks rolling down to the local Home Depot.
The good news, however, is that augmented and virtual reality is already changing the way people design and build new structures. And 3D printing, along with robots that can lay down new streets or build walls in a fraction of the time of their human counterparts, has the potential to completely disrupt the construction industry.
6. Water rights
It’s entirely possible that World War III will be fought over access to clean water; across the globe, humans are polluting freshwater reserves and depleting the finite amount of water available on the planet.
No wonder that water exploitation is a hot-button topic, with retailers like Nestle coming under fire and experiencing widespread boycotts. It’s more important than ever for startups to innovate within the water industry, to find new ways to capture, filter, store and efficiently use water resources. Other potential, allied disruptions might occur in water waste reduction and desalination.
Whatever lies ahead, solutions for critical water issues will have a global impact as water becomes increasingly scarce.
7. The legal industry
Lawyers tend to be a pretty risk-averse crowd, which is perhaps one reason why technological innovations are slow to take hold in the legal industry. But startups willing to explore technologies to address the field's inefficiencies may end up being highly profitable. A new platform, for instance, that could simplify a transition by firms from a billable-hours model to a subscription-based service could turn the entire industry on its heels.
Artificial intelligence also holds a lot of potential for the legal industry, with intuitive language-processing systems capable of analyzing litigation data in a fraction of the time it takes paralegals or associates.
8. Health care
Each year, the Cleveland Clinic makes a list of its predictions for the top disruptors in health care, with approximately 150 to 200 Cleveland Clinic physicians offering their insights into which innovations are set to change healthcare substantially.
Their predictions for the upcoming year range from the fascinating to the completely mind-blowing, with everything from chemotherapy-related hair loss prevention to closed-loop insulin delivery systems. The American healthcare system can perhaps best be summarized as “dysfunctional” at best, so it’s a market ready for innovators to make an impact.