Trends I'm thinking about in 2024

I saw that recently YC posted a renewed Request for Startups on their website, and it inspired me to write down some of the trends and emerging areas that I'm thinking most actively about.

3D and immersive content will become more mainstream

With the release of the Apple Vision Pro and the updated Meta Quest 3, more and more people will end up regularly experiencing both AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) over the coming years

While some of these experiences will be taking what already exists (software to work and relax) and incorporating it within your 3D environment, there'll be an increased demand for experiences which utilise the full range of capabilities of these devices. I think this is likely to be most obvious in gaming, but will also expand to new and existing categories of entertainment and art.

I'm most excited about what it will mean for gaming experiences. The recent Disney + Epic partnership is interesting from this perspective, and I've also been thinking through how creativity and gaming will come together, in a world that has both VR/AR, as well as the broader adoption of Generative AI, to fully leverage the imagination of each individual using it.

As the world shifts to be more and more online, people will value quality in-person experiences more

In stark contrast to the above, I think more people will want to spend quality time in the physical world, belonging to communities and attending in-person events that allow them to be fully present; it's for this reason that live theatre is one of my favourite ways to relax.

Despite this, I still feel it is far too difficult to find exactly what you're looking for; algorithms are incredibly good at knowing what videos you'd like to watch and what you're most likely to buy, but it doesn't feel that the same could be said about recommendations for real-world activities and experiences

One of the reasons that I've found for this is that too often, the incentives for the marketing and distribution of in-person events are misaligned, and therefore the economics distort the prominence of events; marketing spend becomes a much more important factor than whether a user is expected to enjoy something. With InYouGo, part of my work has been focused on counter-acting this, by constantly focusing on the needs of consumers, and giving event organisers and creators the tools they need to manage their events with full visibility.

AI will make the world net more creative, not less

I feel that there is a general feeling that using AI is a limiting factor on creativity, but I don't think that has to be the case. Just looking at some of the output here will showcase the reduced barrier to entry of bringing your imagination to life. It could certainly be said that depth of creativity is lost with these models, but I feel that this will reduce over time, as there is a balance between control and ease

Imagine a world where anyone can create a video game through experimentation; a process that currently takes a concerted effort by a team of experts in each individual discipline within the field. I can only see how it leads to the creation of more creative and innovative games, while maintaining the feeling of creation for those involved.

AI will help people to focus on the highest-value add work

Lots of work that is completed could be easily automated; often even with tools that have been widely available for years. AI will make this even more pronounced, not only being able to do the work, but assisting in the creation of these workflows and automations in the first place; intelligently suggesting where improvements can be made and then carrying them out. I've been thinking about this a lot in the context of Edgar, and am excited to showcase the launch product later this month to those who are on the waitlist.

Dynamic UI and Custom Applications

People are used to using software as it is - typically the more powerful and broad the software, the steeper the learning curve. What if that didn't have to be the case?

With AI, we're going to see the emergence of companies building bespoke applications that are very specific to their needs, which completely change the correlation between power and learning curve, with much of the complexity abstracted away entirely.

Take the example of video editing software; it might take months or even years to fully understand the full power of the software and to get the best results out of it currently, but what if instead of exposing all of that functionality through an interface, the process of editing looked much more like a collaboration, where there's a continual feedback loop, with the software taking action based on the feedback. Suddenly, the product looks very different, but would be no less powerful.

How startups are built

I've also been thinking differently about how startups are going to be founded and developed. Over the past year, I've been laying the foundations for my personal holding company, Positive Sum. A large part of that is building a framework (both technical and procedural) for being able to rapidly experiment and build new products (I'll be sharing more throughout the year, but this year we plan to launch many products using this approach - I'm confident in being able to push this to one per month within certain categories)

Here are some of my broader thoughts on where startup creation is heading:

Automation becoming its own role

I've already seen some companies hiring for roles such as "Chief Automation Officer" and I think we're likely to see much more of this going forward, with the core metric of success being defined along the lines of savings for the company, or the number of potential roles automated (which maps to savings)

Smaller teams, geared towards capital efficiency

Over the past few years, teams have become inflated beyond reasonable levels; this is evident in the number of layoffs being announced.

With increased automation and continually improving tools and platforms to build and ship digital products, we're going to see larger and larger companies being launched with small teams.

This comment from Sam Altman is an indication of the thinking of some, who are arguably most exposed to the cutting edge of AI

Could AI create a one-person unicorn? Sam Altman thinks so—and Silicon Valley sees the technology ‘waiting for us’
In September, Altman said his tech CEO friends’ groupchat has a “betting pool for the first year that there is a one-person billion dollar company.”

One and done rounds

I think we're going to see more people raising one and done rounds; in other words, raising one round of investment, with no expectation of raising another.

As explained in the video below, this doesn't prevent that from becoming an option if product-market fit is found and exponential growth is observed, but it doesn't risk the company by establishing the expectation of raising larger and larger rounds of investment to make it seen as a success from shareholders.

This approach will only increase in popularity as founders realise they can achieve more and more with less, as a result of technology

What trends are you seeing?

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