Solving Commutes – Top Tech Hubs – Future of Fresh
Happy Tuesday, folks. We’re trotting out two new features this week: a research tool that can help you narrow in on your next business, and a new section called “Solve This Problem.” More on both below.
What’s next? Niche down and personalize. Help people find the beauty in something that’s been commercialized and create an experience around it. Think of it like Build-A-Bear. Here’s a great article on pricing niche products, including mechanical keyboards. Ever heard of a Vickrey auction?
City Lift Parking
City Lift Parking is looking to disrupt the parking space. (Ha, get it?) They’ve injected a Tetris-esque approach in an industry with soaring prices and little disruption. By automating parking, the company can convert the square footage of 7 traditional spaces into 39.
What’s next? Look out for automated parking companies renting out spaces to companies, a la WeWork (except this would actually be a technology company). Founders of City Lift said the inspiration for their company was the trend of construction in the US being limited by parking requirements.
Perx Technologies offers a management platform for loyalty programs. Though the company has been around since 2011 and it has received $11m in funding, its referring domains have shot up this year, according to Crunchbase.
What’s next? Rewards and loyalty programs are expanding beyond credit cards and airlines to much smaller businesses.
As these programs increase in prominence, more companies will need assistance with not just managing their programs but providing a loyalty program that is more appealing than others. One survey showed half of all consumers change buying habits based on loyalty programs.
See the archive of our Signals here and browse through dozens more Signals based on Inc.’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies here.
Starting a new venture? Our new Trends Research Template can help
Many of you have asked for advice on the best way to do market research. We’ve had a few posts about this in our Facebook group (here, here, and here), and we thought it would be helpful to provide a dynamic template and two examples of market research in action.
Below is our new Trends Research Template and two research reports that explore dozens of opportunities in two fast-growing industries (we’ve covered these topics before, but never published full reports on them).
You can use these templates to vet startup ideas in other industries. Let us know how we can improve this tool, and we’ll make changes based on your feedback.
The future of fresh food and groceries
Something you may not realize about grocery stores:
When products are supposedly fresh and local, they are almost never fresh and local. This is a supply chain constraint, explains Matthew Tortora, co-founder of WhatsGood –– and an opportunity for tech-savvy entrepreneurs.
Most retailers have centralized operations. So a chain that has 30 locations in a region has a single buyer for all the stores. That buyer doesn’t have relationships with local producers in each location. Products are bought from the same major producer for all 30 stores, and nothing is local, despite customer preference.
Two opportunities come to mind:
Providing a platform that creates relationships between grocery stores and producers to ease the supply chain constraints.
Founding a local grocery store that has local goods, even if it’s a virtual grocery store along the lines of Good Eggs or Thrive Market.
WhatsGood’s business covers similar bases. It started as a matching service for restaurants and farmers who could provide fresh, local ingredients.
It now also extends that service to institutions like schools and universities and recently started delivering farm-fresh goods to 20k consumers in Boston, Rhode Island, and the DC area.
The direct-to-consumer portion of the business now represents about 75% of WhatsGood’s revenue, and Tortora says it has been growing 30% month over month. WhatsGood has recently closed $5.8m in funding, in addition to an original $1.1m seed round when it started in 2015.
Some people use this time to listen to audiobooks or podcasts. Others play around on their phones or take a subway snooze.
But what if products were created to help you do more in this not-so-trivial block of time –– to learn new skills, train your memory, or dream up new businesses? In the future, self-driving cars and VR could make these 54 minutes look vastly different.
What is the future of the commute? How would you attack this problem? Let us know your thoughts here. (And for Facebook-averse members, email your ideas to [email protected]).
This week's Trends send was brought to you by Mark Dent, Steph Smith, and Brad Wolverton. Let us know what you think by hitting the Smileys below. We read every one of your suggestions, and your feedback helps shape our work.