I have often said being an entrepreneur feels like you are a circus clown on a unicycle, riding on a tightrope and juggling 5 different things at the same time.
Yep, that’s pretty much what I am doing right about now and it feels a bit crazy. My hope is that it settles down a bit as we get these things in motion.
Below is a glimpse into the road(s) I am looking down right now and if all goes as planned it will be most of my career focus. They might be general – on purpose – but they are the trends of the next 20 years and industries I am both interested in and feel are at inflection points historically.
Payments – mobile and otherwise
Most of you know I have been in the mobile payment space for a few years now. Our first try with Seconds payments didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped. BUT, we learned something really valuable – remote mobile payment/billing is going to be huge.
We learned this from realizing the act of forcing someone to make a payment with their mobile device while standing in line at a coffee shop/target/local market/etc actually takes more time and is more complicated than giving cash or card. The end solution just has to save all parties valuable time. It will be years before this becomes commonplace and who knows how much it will take (billions invested) to make it happen.
But, you know all those letters you received (or still receive) from utility companies, munipalities and other entities basically telling you 1) here’s the total you owe and 2) here’s where you send the check or 3) log in at this url to pay? Well, we can save people a lot of time and hassle with a new direct mobile billing experience. That can all be achieved by a simple notification on your mobile device informing you of a balance due, should you opt into receiving it. And with your payment credentials already in the system all you need to do is simply respond with “pay” and it’s all taken care of. Business gets paid, consumers account is cleared, no re-entering payment credentials… Simple.
Yep, we got that in the pipeline.
Cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin
Since I am in the payment/financial space I have been watching the rise of Bitcoin for some time now. It’s very interesting to say the least and everyone has an opinion.
Here’s mine: the world needs a new mechanism for payments to flow around the world and Bitcoin feels like it’s the one. As both a currency and a technology, it will not only transform money as we know it is but also its place within this new digital/mobile/worldwide economy. As a speculative commodity, no one knows if the value will hold ($500), massively increase ($100k) or completely tank ($1). We’ll have to see, but my guess is that its value will not be the greatest impact Bitcoin will have on our world. As for regulation, the government will have to figure out how to play nice and guide it towards positive impact on our country and world. I don’t see it completely taking the role of the U.S. dollar so I think that argument is flawed and used politically to take a side, similar to the silly spat between Republicans and Democrats in this country.
So please remember today’s incarnation of Bitcoin will not be tomorrow’s… merely turning your head and shushing the noise is the wrong answer. Just as there were many naysayers in 1994 and 1995 about the web, we are seeing something truly transformative take shape and I don’t want to look back in 10-20 years and kick myself for not getting involved in the movement.
That being said, yep…. the road also includes some things around Bitcoin. It should be an interesting year.
Internet of Things – API’s of life
Another interesting phenomenon starting to take shape is the so-called Internet of Things. I am not sure I like that term but we’ll agree it means a world where everything is “smart” and “connected” to everything else via the web and sensors. Just imagine what can be automated or programmed when devices and objects – previously “dumb” and non-economic actors in our world (tables, chairs, driveways, houses, bikes, cars, etc…) are brought online and provided an identity. Then include an economic identity (hhmm like using something like bitcoin…. now are you are starting to get it?) and allow humans to communicate with and pay and be paid by machines. The possibilities are endless.
Even more basic is the ability to start automating things in your life. If you have heard of IFTTT (If This, Than That) you know what I am talking about. Basically, it means you can set triggers in the world, that when activated, will result in an action you previously determined. These triggers are offered by various web based components in the form of API’s (Application Programming Interface) which allows you to tap into and easily integrate with other technologies. For example, if I leave the house (known because my GPS on my mobile) then lower the temperature in my house by 5 degrees. If Bitcoin falls below a certain price ($300), purchase X more for me. You get the picture.
Yep, something like that’s in the works as well.
Health Technology – Wearable devices
An amazing area for innovation using connected and wearable technologies is health care. We are wondering what is possible once people wear something(s) that are able to monitor and collect up to the second data regarding our vital heath?
Given my background in health I am immensely interested in the future of preventative health tracking, and we are in the process of laying out our first attempt at it. Imagine wearing a small device that, when it senses a certain vital sign has fallen out of the standard deviation for this specific individual, sends a notification to family and medial team with actionable instructions? Imagine how many heart attacks could be prevented if we knew the second someone was “about to go there”? Now, I know this vision could collide with the scary notion of Big Brother NSA, but I have a feeling the pendulum will swing back toward a better equilibrium of personal safety and information security.
Yes, although it might be a bit on the horizon this is down the road for me as well.
Content Creation - Founders RAW
The last one is video. We are starting to see more online video created and watched each day, month and year. And it’s easier than ever to create and distribute video, especially through social media. I intent on continuing my work on Founders RAW and experimenting with online media. Founders RAW is a great playground, since it falls inline with entrepreneurship and founding of technology companies. My goal is to continue to talk to founders and put out high quality content for all of us to enjoy and benefit from. It will be interesting to see how content and video grows from here, how we all can take part in it.
So there you have it.
If you are tired from simply reading it, how do you think I feel? My mind is spinning with all these possibilities and opportunities. While it may seem like I have some random form of ADD (might be true) it’s more like all these opportunities came to me in the last few months. Some are being built as we speak. Some are on their way. Some are in brainstorming and prototyping stages. Some might not make it into production, but all are well thought out and well positioned to become something great in the future. I hope to be a part of them all.
It’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.
Image by Flickr user oatsy40.