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Investors, Pay Close Attention To These 5 Promising Startup Sectors These trends are bound to grow by leaps and bounds in the future.

By Dr Apoorv Ranjan Sharma

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On the back of rapid advances in the field of science and technology, the global startup industry has produced many innovations that have disrupted and revolutionized business functions.The same holds true for the burgeoning startup landscape in India.From eCommerce and hyperlocal marketplaces to SaaS-based education platforms and real-time logistics service providers, indigenous ventures from India are breaching new barriers, creating greater disruption and setting new benchmarks with every passing day.

Based on such evidence, it can safely be said that the country's startup landscape today is a very active, dynamic place. But while this dynamism is no doubt extremely promising, the ever-changing nature of the industry ensures that investors have a task on their hands when it comes to selecting the best venture to infuse their capital. However, a little bit of research into the current market scenario as well as the future trends has led to the identification of a few potential investment sectors which can generate rich dividends:

1. Artificial Intelligence

The idea of an artificial, cogitatively enhanced system that can take intelligent decisions after analysing the environment it is operational in has enthralled mankind since ancient times. However, with everyone from e-commerce companies and retail stores to ERP majors and information security firms employing AI in their everyday operations, the sector has emerged as a necessity to succeed in today's fast-paced digital world and is increasingly becoming a vital differentiator between success and failure.

As such, startups leveraging disruptive technologies such as heuristic pattern recognition and machine learning to enable service delivery offer a great area of opportunity for investors.

Several indigenous AI-based ventures are already gaining major recognition for their innovativeness and disruptive impact. Prime examples of this would be ConfirmTKT, which can predict the chances of getting a train ticket confirmed based on previous patterns to a high degree of accuracy, and the AI-based intelligent photo recognition software Siftr, which is helping photographers curate and compile their best works from across multiple social media platforms.

Another startup which has been creating disruption through intelligent technologies is vPhrase Analytics, an AI platform which helps companies translate data-based information into words at scale and facilitates a better understanding of relevant insights for every business operation. As most businesses steadily move to integrate technology into their functioning, AI-based startups will find greater use-cases for their services, much to the delight of their investors.

2. Fintech

Conceptualised initially as a way of augmenting the payments options available to the consumer, the Fintech industry has since evolved into a distinctive space that is actively replacing the paper-based channels of transaction.

By bringing in flexibility and convenience in payments for the end-user through technology, Fintech ventures are gaining major traction across the globe and are one of the most promising sectors to invest in.

There are several emerging Indian startups which have been disrupting the concept of payments in the country. Social transactions, in particular, are being explored as a viable medium for heightening the end-user payments experience.

This is exemplified by the rise of ventures such as TranServ, which is touted to have pioneered the concept of social transactions in the country, andLenDenClub, a peer-to-peer lending platform which is connecting salaried borrowers to individual lenders by analysing traditional and non-traditional data points to determine creditworthiness.

These startups, by basing their payments solutions around mobility, are doing away with the hassles generally associated with payments and are finding great acceptance within the country. With the smartphone penetration in the country growing at a rapid pace, investing in promising Fintech ventures will definitely count as a smart move for stakeholders.

3. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Several startups today are trying to simulate a life-like experiential feel on the digital platform. Some of these startups, such as Drishya360s and Volob, have been acquired by larger firms which are leveraging their high-end 3D visualisation framework to deliver a highly engaging virtual experience with effective realism.

Others, such as interactive real-estate portal, are disrupting their chosen segments by developing proprietary VR tech to enable a seamless virtual reality experience on their users' screens.

With everything from business transactions to professional and personal communications already having migrated online, the time isn't far away when virtual showrooms and 3D demonstrations become the norm. Moreover, VR/AR technologies are also being explored for diagnosing diseases and mock-testing final products by automobile firms before their physical testing.

With several other potential implementations of these technologies, the VR/AR sector holds a lot of promise for potential investors looking to change the way the world functions.

4. Real-time smart data analytics

With a fast-changing, increasingly competitive business environment,data analysis is no longer a luxury for businesses today. Enterprises big and small are increasingly relying on data-driven insights to optimise their operations.

This dependence on smart information had driven great growth for startups which are operating in the field of real-time data analytics to facilitate better end-user service delivery.

Consider, for example, Vahanalytics, a tech-driven startup aimed at making Indian roads safer and better through data analytics. By capturing and refining real-time data about driving habits and road conditions using smartphones through machine learning and smart Big Data technologies, the venture is addressing a global concern at a local level. With smart data increasingly being explored as a viable medium to improve the on-road transportation efficiency across the globe, this focus on data analytics will reap rich dividends for both the startup as well as the investors in the future.

By utilising smart tech to enable data-driven decision-making, data analytics ventures are becoming a major part of the global business functioning. With leading global firms employing data-spurred insights to tailor their offerings to the end consumer's tastes and requirements, startups operating in the space are offering a very lucrative opportunity to investors owing to the global appeal and requirement of their services.

5. The Internet of Things (IoT)

With smartphones and internet connectivity becoming a major part of the everyday consumer functioning, the Internet has evolved into the Internet of Things through an interconnected nexus of mobile and electronic devices.

Several startups, such as Altizon Systems and Entrib, are leveraging this integration of technology with day-to-day life to enable better business solutions and optimise service delivery.By delivering consumer insights, predictive analysis and condition monitoring in fields as diverse as industrial manufacturing, information security, online/offline retail and social media, these ventures are actively redefining the way businesses operate internally and have a higher chance of growth and success in the coming future.

This makes the industry a highly profitable opportunity for investors with a great possibility of their investments demonstrating multifold growth in terms of their value.

These are key emerging sectors in the Indian startup ecosystem which are bound to grow by leaps and bounds in the future. Investments into tech-based ventures will not only lead to future benefits for the investors but will also give the country's innovation quotient a big, big boost.

Dr Apoorv Ranjan Sharma

Co-Founder and President, Venture Catalysts

A doyenne in the field of early stage investment and start-up incubation, Dr. Apoorv Ranjan Sharma is the Co-Founder of Venture Catalysts, India’s first Seed Investment & Innovation platform. In his role, he is responsible for driving the strategic planning and overseeing the overall functioning of the organisation.


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