2017’s Unicorn Startups Could Be in “Brick-and-mortar” business

January 4, 2017 - 2 minutes read

“Brick and mortar” or employee-reliant tech companies often face an uphill battle in Silicon Valley. The costs are high. Investors are suspicious. But if Amazon’s strategy has anything to teach us, it’s that so-called “traditional” businesses could be some of the hottest tickets for new entrepreneurs in an increasingly crowded, competitive app store.

Does that mean apps are out? Hardly. Rather, it means that traditional small business is back — with a techie twist.

Amazon already turned heads in the app development industry when they concentrated significant capital on opening retail bookstores in major cities. (An ironic move, considering their poor reputation among traditional booksellers.) For any NYC app developers keen to check it out, a New York location is forthcoming, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for in-person stores from the tech giant. Amazon Go, a new checkout-free one-stop-shop concept, is slated for release to the general public in early 2017. According to their site, “our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.”

Does this translate to real-world business opportunities for smaller, less well-funded tech entrepreneurs? Absolutely. The formula is simple: find a need that’s currently being met by old-fashioned solutions, and update it with tech. Rather than creating an app that replaces Wal-Mart, make an app that improves the Wal-Mart concept. Or, on a small scale, apply this thinking to anything — even a small one-person business can thrive, with the addition of smarter tech and outside-the-box thinking.

In-person experiences are increasingly desired and valuable as users get fatigued by purely digital products and services. The unicorn startups of 2017 will recognize this fact, and update their ideas and offerings to great consumers with warm and personable products. If investors aren’t seeing the big picture yet, don’t worry — they will soon.

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