This year some people noticed that, for the last few Decembers, I’ve published a round up of the most interesting new business ideas I came across that year, so now I’m feeling pressure to keep it up. Here then is my list for 2020.
Propositions are classically a statement of ‘the reason why someone should try or buy your product or service’. But in the real world propositions are probably the last reason why people try or buy something! (People buy because of feelings, people buy by copying each other.) But developing propositions is a useful discipline at the beginning of a new business, to try and express your value succinctly and compellingly.
The usual disclaimer: This list is in no way exhaustive, complete, or in any kind of sensible order, and I’m afraid it’s not very global. It’s just my subjective list of new business ideas I came accross that I think offer imaginative solutions to unmet customer needs, and say something about the way things are going.
Remote working is a not unexpected new theme this year, given the lockdowns we’ve all ‘enjoyed’. Fintech is still a hotbed of new ideas, and I don’t think the focus on SME/SMB in this year’s list is just because I’m currently working in that area.
- Gumroad — “Super-simple commerce for creators”
- Superpeer — “The tools you need to have paid 1:1 video calls and livestreams with your audience and paid subscribers”
- Community — “Instant and direct communication with the people you want to reach, using the simplicity of text messaging”
- Parler < 😂 “Twitter for people banned from Twitter” — Benedict Evans
- Pipe — “Itrade your recurring revenue streams for upfront capital”
- Sugar — “A financing platform for games and app studios”
- Mythra — “A Debit Card for Gamers, by Gamers. Each swipe gets a random reward”
Crap tasks made easier
- TaxScouts — “We sort your Self Assessment for you. £119, all in.”
- Atticus — “The easiest and most affordable way to settle an estate and help distribute inheritance”
- FloodFlash — “Rapid payout insurance that is changing the way landlords and businesses recover from flooding” < 🥽 Also that rarest of things, a non-crap IoT proposition!
Banking as a service
- Privacy — “Create single-use cards that close themselves automatically”
- Wise — “We built Banking so you don’t have to”
- Plaid — “The easiest way for users to connect financial institutions to an app”
The layer above banking*
- Dwelling — “A new, modern and easy way to buy a home”
- Gather — “Where couples do their finances together”
- StorkCard — “The first family finance app designed for parents by parents”
* HT Simon Taylor
- SeedLegals — “The legals for growing your company. Sorted.”
- Deel — “Localized contracts & international payroll for teams without borders”
SME ‘operating systems’
- brightwheel — “Your complete child care management software solution” < 👶 OS for child care businesses
- Toast — “Toast gives your restaurant the technology you need to succeed in today’s fast-paced environment” < 🍔 OS for restaurants
- Slice — “A one-stop shop for your pizzeria tech and marketing” < 🍕 OS for pizzerias
- AppFolio — “Mobility for the Modern Property Manager. Anything you can do at your desk you can do from the road” < 🏠 OS for property management businesses
FMCG / CPG
- Bother — “Fast delivery of boring basics”
- Zero — “Zero-waste groceries, delivered fast. You’ll receive groceries in reusable containers, so go ahead, throw out your trashcan”
- WashPass by Candy — “Simply subscribe, receive your smart washer and detergent at home, and enjoy never worrying about buying and dosing detergent again” < 🤔 Hmm, do people really worry about dosing detergent?
- Personalise your tin of Quality Street < 🟠 Silly but mass and probably quite hard to do at scale
- Agrisea < 🌱💧 A way to grow crops in the sea
- 80 Acres Farms — “A new kind of farm, Completely indoors, using 100% renewable energy, without any pesticides. Using robots and AI to do the heavy lifting.”
- Aquapak — “(Plastic-style) packaging that is non-toxic, marine-safe and soluble in warm or hot water”
- Hylo Athletics — “The world’s most sustainable running shoe. Made with seven natural materials and weighing only 215g.”
🗑️ Also IKEA Buy back, H&M Loop, Adidas Futurecraft.Loop, Nike Space Hippie etc should have been here, but they don’t get links as they have websites full of tortured marketingspeak.
- Ripple Energy — “Part own a new wind farm to power your home with cheap, truly green electricity”
- Ryse < ⚡ Uses surplus energy from wind farms to make hydrogen for cars and buses
- Ecologi — “Become climate positive for less than £1.25 per week”
- Fisker Ocean — “An EV with vegan interior, upcycled materials and solar sunroof. Lease with insurance and service included, return the car at any time with zero penalties.”
- Care by Volvo — “The flexible car subscription from Volvo. Stay safe, order online. Home delivery included. Get a car within 1 month, no deposit.”
- Citroën Ami < 🇫🇷 A 2 seater electric car, that can be driven by 14 year olds, for €20 per month!
Diet / health
- Xero — “Your personal fasting coach”
- Zoe — “Discover your best foods to reduce dietary inflammation & improve gut health”
- Levels — “Track your blood glucose in real time, so you can understand your body’s reaction to food and exercise, and tune your diet to optimize your health”
- mmhmm — “Funner Zooming. Add a little magic to virtual business meetings” < 👋 Also the best and worst brand name of the year, so fun trying to watch people who take themselves seriously trying to say it
- Loom — “Show it, say it, send it. Record video messages of your screen, cam, or both. Faster than typing an email or meeting live”
- Tandem — “A virtual office for remote teams”
- Snack — “Replicate the spontaneity of meeting people in the office hallway, grabbing coffee in the break room, or sharing lunch” < 😏 AKA Chat Roulette for Slack!
- Focusmate — “Work quietly in tandem with a stranger and experience the power of human accountability”
- Krisp — “AI-powered noise filtering. Worry less about background noise”
- Descript — “An audio/video editor that works like a doc” < 🔥 Decript is just magical, you have to try it
- Around — < 📹 The language on the website is over-written and unclear, but look at the image: Around crops video call participants down to just circles that float on your screen so you have space to work together on other collaborative apps. Hat optional…
- Connect.club — “Real networking in a virtual world”
- Lunchclub — “Professional introductions via 1:1 videocalls”
- Bridge — “Simple, smart and fast intros”
- PepTalk — “20-minute PepTalks powered by over 400 real-world experts”
- Leapers — “We’re the team for people without a team”
- Guild — “A messaging platform for professional groups, networks and communities”
- Amazon Explore — “Connect one-on-one with hosts arounds the world to explore anything room lessons to landmarks” < 💨 Don’t expect this link to work for long, Amazon are always trying and moving on from) these kind of experiments
- Footways — “A network of quiet and interesting streets for walking in central London”
Post-lockdown living, working & playing
- Culdesac — “(The ‘5-minute city’) with all needs (grocery, cowork, cafe, etc) a 5 min walk from home”
- Juggle — “How professionals work on their terms. Sign up for flexible jobs and we’ll make sure you have a smooth hiring process and are paid on time once you’re placed”
- Lumi — “The fun, instant, rewarding way to learn to play the piano”
- Supernatural — “Exercise in the most beautiful places on earth, without leaving your home” < 😲 Also a non-bogus, non-gaming use of VR?!
Crossing the buzzword streams
- journey colab — “Psychedelic therapies, for all of us” < 💠 Really?!
- Shreddies — “Flatulence filtering underwear”
- StockX — “A stock market for things” < ⌛ Things like rare sneakers or PS5s
- Boom Overture < ✈️ Re-making Concorde, but with modern materials. ‘Space X for celebs who want to fly from London to New York in 3 hours’
- Humane < 🤔 Absolute gobbledegook website, but rumoured to building the first heads up phone
I probably missed loads this year as I seemed to be permanently on Teams calls. Let me know any ‘sitters’ in the comments. And please give me some applause if you find this interesting or useful (or are just glad 2020 is over).
Glyn Britton is Chief Customer Officer at Bionic, a company that is making it radically easier to operate an SME, starting with energy, insurance, tech and loans.