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Top Startup Trends that High School Entrepreneurs Should Seize

February 17, 2021

Successful entrepreneurs are by nature inquisitive and creative, always scanning their environment to identify problems while applying their skills and resources to ponder possible solutions. Young people are especially well-suited to coming up with creative ways of solving challenges because they tend to enjoy maintaining a pulse on the latest technologies and advancements. A lack of capital resources or experience won’t stop the most determined self-starters, though fundraising can be difficult since investors can be skeptical of placing their capital in the hands of a young entrepreneur.

The following top startup trends and opportunities balance some technology application needs while requiring minimal investment beyond time spent learning, making them well-suited to be tackled by savvy high school entrepreneurs.  They allow students to problem solve within growing opportunities, leverage skills that they are more uniquely adept at delivering, while also not needing to outlay a lot of money to launch their startup.

Remote work

woman working remotely with child

Remote work opportunities abound in both the current and post-pandemic landscape. 42% of the U.S. workforce currently working from home full time. According to a 2020 Stanford University report, “Many businesses have figured out how to run their companies successfully in this new paradigm, and because of this, the model will remain after COVID-19 and beyond.”  With remote work on the rise, this means two main avenues of entrepreneurial opportunities:

  1. Increase in freelance work
  2. More opportunities to support remote employees through new online platforms, home office devices, connection mediums, and more

Many freelance opportunities require no more knowledge than the skills students have already developed by writing term papers for advanced high school coursework. Take advantage of your education thus far to earn seed money for future businesses or college tuition with the ideas below.

No-charge freelance sites that are worth checking out:

  • Upwork
  • Hubstaff Talent
  • Fiverr – They originally offered $5 services however, that has since changed.
  • Freelancer.com
  • Outsourcely.com

Abundant opportunities for high school applicants in the above platforms include:

  • Content writing: Blog posts, informative articles
  • Editing existing content for grammar and word choice
  • Writing scripts for YouTube videos
  • Translation services if you speak another language

Alternative ideas for sourcing remote work opportunities:

  • Developing digital courses/information products: If you enjoy writing and creating tutorials, you can create a series of information products to market online through a landing page or blog.
  • Create a free profile on care.com to become a private tutor in your favorite subject.
  • Create a podcast with monetization capability.
  • Udemy/Coursera – Create courses or take advantage of many free and very affordable courses to learn new applicable skills such as the ones below.

In addition to performing your own remote work, which may include solo work or creating a small consulting business with some employees, consider the different ways that so many people starting to work from home need additional support as they change to this new lifestyle.  You may have already thought of some things that would improve your school experience as you join Zoom classrooms, interact with your classmates remotely, or sit at home for hours on end at a desk that wasn’t originally planned to be a home office.  Millions of people around the world are preparing to do this from now on, and it could be your new innovations that make it an endurable future.

Hyper personalization

customized shoe

When everyone had to go to stores to purchase products, and those stores had limited shelf space, that meant everyone had limited selection and companies made their products in a way that was ‘good enough’ for everybody.  Now that everything from the manufacturing process to the online purchasing process has changed, customers can buy personalized products and services ranging from laser-cut coasters and 3D printed custom-fit shoes to personalized shopping recommendations and tailored content.  Customers are becoming more and more savvy, and expect their experience to be highly personalized in real-time.

The most important skill to develop in order to specialize in hyper-personalization is in data collection and analysis. There is a balance between offering so many options (practically unlimited) and getting a customer to purchase.  In fact, customers can become overwhelmed with the number of options to the extent of becoming reluctant to purchase.  Companies who are great at personalization gather quality detailed data such as a customer’s geographic location, previous views of a product and product pages, the time of day the customer is active, life events, and the consumer’s response to prior marketing messages. The more quality data is collected, the better companies are able to segment audiences and personalize campaigns.

Consider which things you think have become too general and need to become more personalized in your or others’ lives.  Many products and services have already been tapped, though there are still plenty of industries and markets that need operationalized data-based personalization.  Fields that have tended to previously have high costs of manufacturing or aspects of their services, while still having a lot of potential customers to be scalable if finding a solution, work well for this type of solution development.

Internet of Things

smart home internet of things

Smart homes and smart offices are on the rise.  People are spending more time in their homes, driven in part by the pandemic and rise in remote work.  The Internet of Things or IoT, refers to everyday objects that are embedded with software, capable of collecting and sending data to make it ‘smart’. There are aspects of this emerging technology to consider:

  • Connectedness – with IoT, consumers want their products to work together. For example, you want your Nest Thermostat to be able to integrate with your smart lighting system and your Alexa so that you can talk to Alexa to turn things on and off, and even program things to turn on when you walk in the door.  You may consider developing a new product or software that works on top of or with existing systems that measures electricity usage, water usage, allows you to program things in your refrigerator, etc., though keep in mind that these would all need to work with the existing systems.  The good news, though, is that companies like Amazon love to promote startups!
  • Security – the development of IoT is still relatively new, and as such, vulnerable to compromise. Hackers take advantage of the lack of security on these devices and are sometimes able to gain access to other sensitive information on the same network. It is important to ensure knowledge of solutions and risk assessment in this area, or could be an opportunity to consider the development of solutions.
  • Big Data – many modern technology companies have two main revenue streams – the sale of their primary offering, whether that is selling a product for a set cost or a service for a set or hourly rate, then a longer term opportunity that arises from the collection of data.  This latter revenue stream can often be much more valuable, and requires specialists with expertise in intensive data analytics who have set up the proper data collection from the beginning.

Consider how the home or office could be better equipped with technology that allows it to essentially run on its own.  The current adult generation may remember watching shows like The Jetsons and imagine what other shows may be predicting our future technology.

Consumer Convenience

home delivery of shopping bags from Amazon

In order to deliver a truly convenient experience to their customers today, companies strive to not only give time back to the consumer, but also relieve the overwhelm that contributes to decision fatigue. This can mean making the buying process simpler, or even bringing the convenience of the experience into the consumer’s own home. Consider massively successful companies like Amazon who have revolutionized the buying experience by including a “Buy it Now” button while also eliminating the countless hours going from store to store evaluating options by providing them in one place with reviews from previous customers, then sending them to your own home without you ever having to deal with the hassle of store parking and lines.

Customer convenience has extended beyond just Amazon’s products, which include being able to get everything from clothing to electronics to groceries in just a few days, to many on-demand services.  The Internet has allowed customers to expect practically any product or service to be at their fingertips.  Educational materials are a click away, templates for legal documents are easily accessible, and even potential mentors can be found through LinkedIn if you’re savvy and resilient enough.  Convenience is the easy part, though this means that quality is the more difficult part.  Company success in the age of such convenience then also becomes about the curation of quality, which is how top educational institutions, companies like Amazon, and other quality leaders are able to be successful.

To create a seamless customer experience as a new company, startups must map out their consumer touchpoints and leverage intuitive technology to provide a solution that minimizes the pain points of their previous process and meets their in-the-moment needs. By understanding their customer’s rapidly evolving needs, companies can better adapt and enhance their solutions. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to a strong desire for additional consumer convenience, whether due to changes from the pandemic or otherwise, including the uptake of technology, rapid urbanization, smaller households, evolving gender roles, and more. Consumers today are more willing than ever to pay for the luxury of convenience. Companies accommodate by eliminating tedious shopping activities with programmatic functions, automated lists and subscriptions that make use of AI, augmented reality and virtual reality (VR).

As a high school entrepreneur, consider which type of customers you may want to serve or which technologies you want to leverage.  Recognize that Amazon did not start where it is today, so you will need to start small.  Customers’ mental calculation is the value of time for their money, so consider how much time you can save them for how much you can charge, which will need to start small and grow over time.

Voice recognition technology

Top Startup Trends - voice recognition technology AI

Many of you likely already use things like speech-to-text, or an Amazon Alexa or Google Home. By now, half of all internet searches are done by voice command. This means that a better understanding of common language is key to the future of internet searches. While you may think of smart speakers when it comes to this form of technology, industry experts predict that within five years, every application will feature voice recognition.

Natural language processing or NLP, is a subfield that merges linguistics, computer science and AI to improve the interaction between computers and human language. To build a comprehensive speech recognition experience, AI must navigate the challenges of regional dialects and accents, while discerning commands from background noise.

Aspiring app developers interested in incorporating this technology are able to access software services such as Amazon’s Transcribe, an automatic speech recognition program, which adds a speech-to-text feature to their applications.

Research predicts that voice-based ad revenue could reach $19 billion by 2022, mostly due to the growth of voice search apps on mobile devices.

As this field evolves, opportunities may include:

  • Shopping with voice assistants
  • Home appliances with integrated smart speakers
  • Touch-free healthcare solutions
  • Solutions specific to vision-impaired or the elderly

Or consider ways that you hope to be using voice recognition to make your life easier!

 

These are just a few of many ways that tech-savvy high school entrepreneurs can begin applying their skills to burgeoning fields.  Share additional ideas of fields in the comments below!

 

Sources:

  1. https://siepr.stanford.edu/research/publications/how-working-home-works-out
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/08/23/so-you-want-a-job-in-iot-here-are-the-three-skills-every-iot-company-looks-for/?sh=3b6d85f645b7
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/sep/24/speech-recognition-tech-google
  4. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/300403
  5. https://intive.com/insights/5-ideas-for-using-voice-recognition-in-your-business/

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