Seamless: On-demand is so last year. We live in an impatient world demanding ever-faster and more convenient everything. Despite the technological advances of the last decade that have dramatically improved our lives and freed up our time, it's against human nature to stagnate at "good enough." The value of saving hours, minutes and seconds will only continue to increase as we get closer to instant gratification.
The on-demand era was built on smartphone connectivity and logistical prowess. But it required user input, creating an implicit lag between input and gratification. The seamless economy of the future will abstract away actions and effort, seamlessly integrating with the user's life and preferences through machine learning and connected sensors. This combination will sense what we want and feel before we feel or want it. It will not only decrease the time until gratification, but it will further simplify and personalize the interfaces we interact with on a daily basis.
Tangential: Monumental innovations beget tangential opportunities. Think of tangential innovations as second-order effects — they are a consequence of the original innovation and have the potential to transform existing industries through a re-evaluation of their first principles, and even to spawn new industries not feasible under today's assumptions.
As the current class of CASE technologies steadily mature, entrepreneurs and investors need to consider the ripple effects of CASE on other economic sectors — energy, e-commerce, real estate, governance and infrastructure, to name a few.
Tangential innovations hold the potential to create structural changes across the globe. Investors and entrepreneurs need to be thinking in decades, not years, but the potential reward for their patience is tantalizing.
Enabling: "Middleware" startups will emerge to supercharge the CASE future. While they may never achieve the household recognition of the CASE heavyweights, there will be significant investor appetite for startup solutions that act as the middleware enabling CASE companies to expedite the process of, or survive the financial rigors of, CASE r&d. The space has simply become too large and interconnected, and the tasks at hand too challenging, for any single CASE juggernaut to go it alone.
Pieces deeper in the stack can be turned over to specialized players who can execute on their niche more nimbly than larger players and spread their r&d costs across multiple customers, making them attractive investments. By supporting CASE heavyweights, these enabling middleware companies will be able to offer investors more predictable and consistent returns in the shorter term as they wait for the CASE home runs to be realized.
Profitable: Long-term growth at any cost is no longer a sustainable mantra. While a few global investors may still have an appetite for this investment approach, most investors are beginning to shift mindset, rewarding startups with efficient operations and a clear-eyed focus on profitability.
Startups focusing on profitability can take one of two approaches. The first is to help CASE leaders improve their financials immediately. CASE players are under pressure to rein in costs or find partnerships to increase revenue without risking the loss of investor appetite to fund their ambitious, world-changing goals.
The second is to develop a unique niche such that profitability becomes the motivating factor, rather than stratospheric growth. Moonshots will also be sought after, but expect venture investment to shift toward rewarding what is possible today.