Given all the hours we spent at home this year, we couldn’t be more grateful for the incredible Accelerated community. We got to hang out with you via office hours on Zoom, social video chats on Glimpse, audio rooms on Chalk, and of course, our Slack group. Thanks for making our days brighter, and for inspiring us to think bigger about what our (currently) remote world could mean for the future of tech.
This week, we’re doing something a little different. We summarized the top ten areas (across consumer and enterprise) where we’re most excited to see new products in 2021. For each category, we highlighted a few startups we’ve seen (the ones in green are CRV portfolio companies!), but these aren’t meant to be comprehensive market maps.
Please comment below or tweet us with your thoughts and ideas - we’d love to know what companies we should be looking at in these spaces! And if you’re on the lookout for jobs/internships, don’t worry - we squeezed those in, too ☺️ .
👥 Verticalization and unbundling. Legacy platforms in social media, e-comm, recruiting, finance, and more were built for the “average” consumer, and not every company can build a TikTok-like algorithm to serve hyper-customized content. We’ve written before about vertical social networks (unbundling Facebook) and vertical marketplaces (unbundling eBay). We’d love to see this trend hit companies that created a new category of user behavior, but are now too big to capitalize on all the “niches” that come with varying user preferences - such as Robinhood, Airbnb, and Instacart.
🎧 Audio as a social layer. While audio as a standalone platform is interesting, we’re particularly excited about audio as a layer on top of other experiences. The explosion of Among Us (and the hundreds of thousands of Discord voice rooms created to support social game play) revealed the latent demand of Gen Zers to communicate via voice. It’s much more engaging than swiping through photos or texts, but less stressful than video (you don’t have to worry about looking good on camera!). We see huge potential to integrate audio into apps & games and provide a new way for communities to connect.
📝 Note taking / knowledge management. We’re compulsive note takers, and have been excited to see the explosion of knowledge management apps - we’ve tested dozens of them! It’s a crowded space that is notoriously difficult to monetize. We’re looking for products that are best-in-class for a subset of consumers, whether it’s creatives looking for a flexible “blank page,” execs keeping on top of their contacts, or researchers synthesizing information. These apps need features that truly stand out from the pack and inspire lengthy Twitter threads or passionate Reddit comments.
🏃♀️ Connected wellness. This year presented challenges for mental and physical health - it was tough to stay active (and sane) while sheltering-in-place for months on end. Many people tried to spend less time on their devices, but also turned to technology as a solution for tracking and improving their well-being. Big companies like Amazon and Apple released (or significantly upgraded) their wearables, while startups like WHOOP and Eight Sleep gained traction as consumers look to make choices to feel better. Next year, we expect to see more affordable options go mainstream!
💻 E-commerce infrastructure. We’ve been writing about e-comm infra for years (including the landscape of D2C tools and how brands leverage physical retail), but 2020 was a turning point. COVID accelerated the shift to e-commerce - there’s arguably never been a better time to build an online brand. These operators are often solopreneurs (or have small teams), and don’t have time or expertise to do things like optimizing their storefront, retargeting customers, or analyzing customer data to find profitable acquisition channels. This creates an opportunity for software to tackle these tasks!
🛍️ Live shopping in the mainstream. This category already got a lot of heat in 2020, with Benchmark leading the Series A of Popshop and social giants like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube leaning in on commerce. From early data, it seems like conversion and engagement with this QVC-style approach really works! (Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, given the success influencers have had with their own products + partnerships.) We expect to see more standalone platforms, as well as existing social and commerce apps adding in livestreams to enhance the user experience.
📈 Consumer fintech goes social. The explosion of personal finance content on TikTok, YouTube, and Reddit proves that millennials and Gen Zers have a huge appetite for optimizing their savings, investments, and budgeting. Startups that make financial management: (1) fun/understandable; and (2) social/collaborative; will have a huge advantage. There is an opportunity to bring back virality to fintech (remember the Robinhood waitlist?), as startups “double click” on communities and behaviors here.
📱 Business in a box platforms. We first introduced the idea of a “business in a box” two years ago (!!), as we saw the ability for technology to simplify the process of starting and running a business. Think of a business in a box platform like a digital franchise - individual operators invest in their business and manage day-to-day operations, but benefit from the brand, resources, and technology of the parent company. As millennials and Gen Zers are increasingly thinking about starting their own businesses, we think business in a box platforms will be a compelling option!
🤑 Vertical SaaS + embedded fintech. 2020 was a banner year for public SaaS companies, and early stage investors are aggressively hunting for the next Shopify or Datadog. We’re particularly excited about vertical solutions - think Mindbody (booking/management for wellness providers) or Toast (point of sale for restaurants). These companies can “lock in” customers and expand their ARPU (average revenue per user) by layering on financial services like lending, payment processing, and insurance.
⌨️ Command line interface platforms. We know the “Superhuman for X” thesis may seem overrated. After trying many products on this theme across use cases (e.g. internal search, scheduling, note-taking, networking), we found it’s tough to build something that’s both valuable and easy to use. But if you can, it’s incredibly magical and sticky! It may take time for “winners” to emerge out of the noise, but we’ll be watching for platforms that abstract away the right amount of complexity to power a seamless experience.
Stir - Product Engineers (Remote)
Village Global - Associate/Principal (Remote)
Settle - Ops Lead (Remote)
Affirm - Growth Strategy Analyst (Remote)
Worklife Ventures - Investor (Bay Area, Remote)*
South Park Commons - Chief of Staff (SF)
Side - Associate Launch Manager (SF)
a16z - Associate Partner, Consumer Market Development (Menlo Park)
Tala - Strategy Analyst (LA)
Vayu - Fintech PM (NYC)
Leif - Biz Ops Associate (NYC)
*Requires 3+ years of experience.
Jumprope - Lead Development / Marketing Intern (Remote)
Namely - Client Advocacy (Marketing) Intern (NYC, Remote)
LeaseLock - Marketing Intern (Marina del Rey, Remote)
Likewise - User Research Intern (Bellevue)
Uber - Summer MBA Global Strategy Intern (SF)
Cloudflare - Summer PM Intern (SF)
Lyft - Summer Product Design Intern (SF)
Robinhood - MBA Benchmarking Insights & Strategy Intern (Menlo Park)
LinkedIn - Summer Associate PM Intern (Sunnyvale)
Over Easy - Community Intern (NYC)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Beauford, a one-year-old Samoyed who lives in Toronto.
Beau enjoys camouflaging himself in the snow, playing with strawberries, and watching Netflix on the couch with his family.
Follow him on Instagram @beauthesammy!
Hi! 👋 We’re Justine and Olivia Moore, identical twins and venture investors at CRV. Thanks for reading Accelerated. We’d love your feedback - feel free to tweet us @venturetwins or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.