The year 2020 has surely been a ride for tech startups. While the repercussions of the pandemic have forced some technology startups to shut down, many of them thrived because they pivoted their business strategy and their products in accordance with the changing times. The startups that made it through the year were able to do so because they kept innovating and transforming their operations to fit in the ‘new normal. In this blog, we talk about a few startup industry trends that have grown in the year 2020 (some because of the pandemic, some not) and will surely continue to thrive in 2021.
If you plan to establish a new business, these trends should be helpful for you to choose an industry to dive in. These tech startup trends will also be helpful for an existing business to help you find new products and categories.
6 Tech startup trends that’ll continue ruling in 2021
1. Remote Working
In 2019, Buffer asked an interesting question to 2,500 people – Would you like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of your career? 99% of the respondents said ‘Yes’ . A 2018 survey by Owl Labs polling 3,028 respondents from 23 countries in 6 continents found that 44% of the companies not allowing remote work, just 16% of the companies being completely remote and 40% offering both remote and in-house options . However, after the pandemic happened, a survey of 800 global HR executives conducted by Gartner found 88% of them making work from home mandatory or encouraging their employees to work from home after COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic .
And not surprisingly, remote working is here to stay. Another Gartner CFO survey polling 317 Financial leaders and CFOs found that at least 74% will make minimum 5% of their on-site workforce permanently remote positions after the pandemic. 25% of the respondents said they plan to move 10% of their workforce to a remote setting permanently. 4% said they plan to move about 50% of their workforce to a remote working setting .
Having said that, no matter how happy employees around the world are about this development, VCs don’t believe the current services and tools solve the compliance and security issues of working remotely. TechCrunch talked to 6 leading investors about the entire work from home situation and one common thing came up – all the VCs agreed that there’s still a huge amount of work to be done to improve remote working.
Remote working is still very young, which means there are great opportunities for tech startups to tackle these issues. As remote working is not going anywhere even after the pandemic ends, startups in 2021 will focus on making the WFH experience even better, seamless and secure.
2. Robotic Delivery
The adoption of robotic delivery as a startup trend has been slow due to costs involved, complications and less willingness. However, robotic delivery is going to be one of the hottest startup industry trends in 2021. A Mordor Intelligence report found that the autonomous delivery robot market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.5% over 2020-2025 . China is one of the first companies to embrace this technology, accelerate its deployment and use robots to deliver food orders to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Meituan is a China-based company that aims to be the ‘Amazon of Services’. Its app connects consumers with local restaurants for food take-outs and other local businesses for movie tickets, hotel bookings and other services. The app reportedly using autonomous vehicles recently for delivery of groceries to its customers to minimize human contact.
Not just China that’s trying its hand at robotic delivery. Starship Technologies, a tech company in the United States is also focused at developing self-driving robotic delivery vehicles. Robots of Starship can carry and deliver items within a 6 kilometer radius. Aethon is another US-born robotic delivery company in the hospitality environment that’s capable of delivering food, banquet supplies, linen and luggage in hotels. With so many companies working in this field of technology, it will be exciting to see what this startup trend will have to offer in 2021.
3. No-Code/Low Code Digital Products
Low-code or no-code platforms refers to apps and websites with a drag-and-drop interface and the users need no programming knowledge to use them. Low-code requires less and no-code requires zero coding knowledge. No-code platforms can be used by people with no or less coding knowledge to build apps and websites. These platforms come handy in quickly making prototypes of business ideas.
Scapic is one such tool that helps such people integrate the power of augmented reality (AR) into their online store – no coding knowledge required. Through AR, users browsing through products get a 360 degree view of the product. Website development platforms like Wix and Weebly also let users create beautiful websites using their responsive templates without knowing a single line of code. No code will definitely be one of the most useful startup trends in 2021 and promote infinite innovation.
4. Virtual healthcare
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a push to another startup industry trend – virtual and telehealth care. In order to minimize exposure and control contact, telehealth has emerged as a highly useful technology. Many public and private hospitals and practitioners have started implementing virtual healthcare offerings. After the pandemic, people have been more accepting of this technology.
A report by McKinsey & Company found the consumer adoption rate of telehealth services in 2020 to be up by 49%. In 2019, telehealth adoption was just at 11%. Telehealth service providers say they have rapidly scaled offerings and now see 50 to 175 times the number of patients through telehealth as compared to what they did before the pandemic .
Moreover, the global telemedicine market was at $45.5 million in 2019. By 2026, the same is projected to account for $175.5 million . For startups focused on healthcare, this trend is a great opportunity to grow in and offer what competitors are not offering.
5. Startups Using 5G Infrastructure
The demand for higher internet speed and need for connectivity is continuously on the rise as we shift towards smart homes. smart cities and autonomous mobility. The advancement of 5G technology in 2021 will give rise to new infrastructure, applications and services, from both startups and big corporations. It might seem like COVID-19 might have stalled the development and rollout of 5G, but it hasn’t. In fact, the deployment has been accelerated. Telcos around the world are on track to deliver this technology. Australian telcos like Testra and Optus have already started rolling out their 5G services, way before the lockdown. In the United States, Verizon announced a massive expansion of its 5G network rollout that will reach over 200 million people. China has also been working on 5G technology with Ericsson leading the way.
A California-based startup if working on making 5G technology transfer data at a greater distance. Novalume is a smart city startup in Denmark that is helping municipalities manage their smart city data and public lighting network via sensors. A startup in Spain, Nido Robotics develops drones that help in seafloor exploration. 5G network will help these drones navigate better and IoT will help them communicate seamlessly with the devices on board. 5G as a startup industry trend surely has some cool applications. Rapid development and growth can be expected by startups using this technology.
6. EdTech platforms & online education
Online education and EdTech platforms have grown considerable in the year 2020. Today, schools, coaching centres and even colleges are teaching conducting classes via video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Meet. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Zoom was used in 20+ countries in 90,000 countries, Zoom said in a blog post.
The EdTech and e-learning industry have also grown significantly in 2020 and will continue to be a startup trend in 2021. While these industries were starting to gain popularity by the end of 2019, the pandemic gave this industry a push and opened up many opportunities. According to a report by Global Market Insights, the e-learning market size crossed $200 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8% from 2020 to 2026 .
Coursera and Udacity from the United States, Byju’s from India and iTutorGroup, and Hujiang in China are a few examples of the top EdTech platforms. These platforms have served the global community during the lockdown and will continue to do so in the next year and beyond.1
Clearly, the technology industry plays an imperative role these days. After the pandemic took over, most of the workforce has shifted to the work-from-home (WFH) setup, more classes are being held online and more people are signing up on e-learning platforms. These are just 6 of the many startup trends in the tech industry that you can expect to further grow in the next year. Many more technologies are expected to emerge, such as AI, IoT, etc. Tech startups will continue being in the limelight in 2021 and in the years to come. However, to establish success, efficiency and sustainability, adapting quickly to the changes and trends in the industry should be a priority.
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Image 1: Pixabay
 OWL Labs (2018) “Global State of Remote Work” [Online] Available from: https://www.owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work/2018#methodology [Accessed December 2020]
 Buffer (2019) “State Of Remote Work” [Online] Available from: https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2019 [Accessed December 2020]
 Gartner (2020) “Gartner HR Survey Reveals 88% of Organizations Have Encouraged or Required Employees to Work From Home Due to Coronavirus” [Online] Available from: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-03-19-gartner-hr-survey-reveals-88–of-organizations-have-e [Accessed December 2020]
 Gartner (2020) “Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently” [Online] Available from: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfo-surey-reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-work-permanently2 [Accessed December 2020]
 Mordor Intelligence (2019) “AUTONOMOUS DELIVERY ROBOTS MARKET – GROWTH, TRENDS, FORECASTS (2020 – 2025)” [Online] Available from: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/autonomous-delivery-robots-market [Accessed December 2020]
 McKinsey & Company (2020) “Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality?” [Online] Available from: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/telehealth-a-quarter-trillion-dollar-post-covid-19-reality# [Accessed December 2020]
 Statista (2020) “Global telemedicine market size in 2019 and a forecast for 2026” [Online] Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/671374/global-telemedicine-market-size/ [Accessed December 2020]
 Global Market Insights (2019)”E-Learning Market Size By Technology (Online E-Learning, Learning Management System (LMS), Mobile E-Learning, Rapid E-Learning, Virtual Classroom), By Provider (Service, Content), By Application (Academic [K-12, Higher Education, Vocational Training], Corporate [SMBs, Large Enterprises], Government), Industry Analysis Report, Regional Outlook, Growth Potential, Competitive Market Share & Forecast, 2020 – 2026″ [Online] Available from: https://www.gminsights.com/industry-analysis/elearning-market-size#:~:text=E-Learning%20Market%20size%20surpassed,will%20drive%20the%20market%20growth [Accessed December 2020]