In the next two years, the worldwide mobile app market is set to grow more than double its value. Estimated at 88.6 billion US dollars in 2016, it’s expected to reach a value exceeding $189 billion by 2020. Numbers do differ somewhat between researchers, but the overall picture is that there is still tremendous space for the market to grow until it becomes saturated.
Nevertheless, an aspiring entrepreneur must be living under a rock not to realise that slowly, but surely, there is a shift going on. Vox reported at the end of last year that there had not been a major tech company breakthrough for the last ten years in the tech scene. Looking back, the first major tech breakthroughs happened with Apple and Microsoft in the 1970s, followed by AOL in the 80s, Amazon, Yahoo, and Google in the 90s, and Facebook in the 2000s. It’s surprising to realise this way that Facebook has reached 13 years, quite a relevant number in company age.
Before 2017 became Uber’s horrible year, with the CEO resigning in disgrace, accusations of harassment and an intellectual property suit, many believed Uber to be the next technology giant. Other big tech names come to mind, like AirBnB, Snap, Square, and Slack, but the truth is their value is just a fraction of the giants’ worth.
The tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have created their own ecosystem, and competing with them is almost impossible. Moreso, they have become experts in the survival technique known as “acquire early and often”. In today’s tech industry, it’s more likely that an up and coming tech startup will get acquired rather than make it big.
Alternatively, we have the consumers. In the almost 40 years in which tech has become meaningful, several generations have grown up or grown old witnessing every new wave of changes. Is it surprising then that the consumers have become much more educated and much more sceptic regarding the offerings tech makes them?
Erin Griffith, in a terribly insightful article on Wired, summed up the public’s sentiment perfectly in the response the journalist gave to a tech founder looking to pitch a positive story:
“As headlines have exposed the troubling inner workings of company after company, startup culture no longer feels like fodder for gentle parodies about ping pong and hoodies. It feels ugly and rotten. Facebook, the greatest startup success story of this era, isn’t a merry band of hackers building cutesy tools that allow you to digitally Poke your friends. It’s a powerful and potentially sinister collector of personal data, a propaganda partner to government censors, and an enabler of discriminatory advertising.
The world is no longer interested in that kind of story, I told him [a.n. – the kind of story that is positive and complimentary about tech]. Anything that doesn’t address the thorny questions facing the tech industry feels beside the point.”
Does this mean that aspiring entrepreneurs should maybe just put their ideas into the drawer and forget them there? Of course not! But it is time for aspiring entrepreneurs to aim higher than “tech rockstar” or “becoming the next Facebook”.
It is time to stop wanting to be the rebel who overturns the status quo, and become the hero everyone aspired towards when tech’s potential started to reveal itself.
It’s easier today to build an app than it was 5 years ago. It’s easier to find your niche, and it’s easier than ever to get out there and ask what your audience wants. It is time for every aspiring entrepreneur to have the courage to put together the insights they discover and more than propose a solution – to go out there and ask honestly:
Is this something that helps you?
Tomorrow’s great entrepreneur won’t be the one who puts an app on the market and slams the gavel proclaiming this is the solution everyone was waiting for.
Tomorrow’s great entrepreneur is the one who listens to their users and trusts them to lead them to a better version of the app. It’s the one who knows that the best solutions don’t come from living in the closed bubble of home – Uber car – tech office, but from discovering the pain points and wants of communities that are outside their routine.
Maybe that is why we strive to build up non-tech entrepreneurs the most. People like you, who bring together tech with different industries, different communities, and different contexts, have the most potential to gain the insights you need to build valuable and delightful products.
We have placed our bet for tomorrow’s great entrepreneur on you.