Starting a business after covid 19 pandemic sounds basic and it is. However, many large incumbents struggle to do so with consistent success, creating opportunities for disruptors to thrive.

The established companies are aware of the need to act faster and bolder. What they often lack are rigorous processes to proactively explore what's next, evaluate value propositions, and quickly explore and learn new, scalable business ideas. It's not about chasing the latest trend or shiny object, or knee-jerk dismissing anything with a touch of hype. It's about generating actionable insights that guide sustained investment in scalable ideas that are uniquely suited to your business.

Companies that get it right see startups as experimental machines that drive innovation and growth. It starts with identifying disruptive trends and thinking deeply about how they will disrupt markets, change customer behavior and create new profit pools. We see several that are gaining increasing attention and that offer great potential for business start-ups in the years to come.


What: The basic idea behind circularity is that waste should be treated as an asset. This includes both physical wastes generated during production and distribution or at the end of a product's useful life, and wasted capacity, the long periods when most products are not used (think of that car sitting in your garage ). The disposal of both types of waste helps companies to use resources more sustainably and reduce costs. It offers opportunities to build the latest business models.

Why now: Circularity is not new, but it is gaining momentum. Geopolitical uncertainties (Ukraine and China exhibit A and B) threaten the supply of raw materials. Not surprisingly, this is encouraging more startups and large companies to find ways to consume less and realize the potential value of wasted capacity. Companies like IKEA and Bugaboo create products that are easier to maintain, repair, and reuse. Others are exploring business models like leasing or resale to create new consumer solutions that are both circular and profitable.

What Works: While circular models are popping up in industries ranging from automotive to beverages, the fashion industry is seeing a significant surge in innovation. For luxury brand consumers who buy something, wear it multiple times, and move on, secondhand clothing sites like The RealReal have sprung up to provide fashionistas with a place to monetize their overflowing closets. Fashion houses (which have historically shredded unsold products to protect brand scarcity) are responding by finding ways to recycle returns into new products or to resell "favorite items". That has spawned another site called Archive, which works with A-list brands like Oscar de la Renta, Cuyana, and The North Face to create online marketplaces for used goods. The Galeries Lafayette in Paris has also opened a high-quality second-hand department.

Read our other business blog on Some advantages of fiberglass fabric.

Digital resources

What: Trillions of Dollars in Cryptocurrency Losses? The collapse of so-called stablecoins? Seems like the digital asset craze has hit a wall, doesn't it? Don't count on it. Companies and investors who ignore the rise of blockchain or distributed database technology do so at their peril. There is no doubt that cryptocurrencies and NFTs are volatile and full of hype and speculation. But early applications of blockchain also provide a proof of concept for the development of a key foundational infrastructure that will eventually support wider adoption.

Why now: Blockchain evangelists would like you to believe that the old internet will be completely replaced by a new, intermediary-free online ecosystem (Web 3.0) where everything from your identity to your mortgage is tokenized and fungible. However, how it develops is completely open. What we do know is that (depending on your industry) change can happen very quickly. Like the explosive growth of e-commerce or app-based services, what once seemed exotic can transform the industry.

What works: Companies like J.P. Morgan, Visa, Mastercard, and Stripe are already investing in various blockchain use cases to bolster their finance leadership. Gaming companies, consumer brands, and real estate players are exploring how programmable tokens can be used to improve loyalty, improve product functionality and introduce new products that leverage smart contracts. Alfa Romeo, for example, uses NFT to create transportable records for each car. The Australian Open fundamentally changed the world of tennis marketing, using NFT to create several innovative benefits for viewers.

Artificial intelligence

What: Most applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in companies in recent years have focused on internal efficiencies such as the optimization of delivery routes or self-service HR portals. But that is changing. As investment funds continue to flow in, companies are increasingly adopting AI to create new services & products or improve old ones. This is not without controversy: ethicists and technologists continue to debate the risks and promises of AI. But the field is growing exponentially.

Why now: Most companies these days collect more data than they can handle. Those who figure out how to make it work are creating new revenue streams and, in some cases, transforming industries. Now is the time to think strategically about what data assets you have and what new datasets you might be collecting. Can AI be used to transform these assets into new products and services that scale?

What works: In the pharmaceutical industry, AI is finding its way into all phases of drug development. According to Chemical & Engineering News, major pharmaceutical companies are working with A.I. Specialists to develop skills in biology (target discovery and disease modeling), chemistry (virtual sensing, retrosynthesis, and small molecule generation), and clinical development (patient stratification, clinical trial design and prediction of trial outcomes). While admitting an A.I. is still a long way off, some industry experts argue that specific applications within the drug development process will likely make more sense: A.I. promises to change the way the industry develops medicines.

In the automotive industry, Bosch uses A.I. to build a new solution to help drivers find parking spaces. The company's ultrasonic sensors equip cars to find available parking spots as they weave through traffic, even when the driver isn't looking for a spot. As more cars push this crowdsourced information to the cloud, A.I. analyzes it, directing nearby drivers to available parking spots while ensuring that no two drivers are sent to the same spot or mistaking a driveway for an open area.

The business building principle is universal: Data is available how can we use Artificial intelligence to turn it into a product which improves people's lives?


What: The Metaverse is another variant of web3 in which digital assets such as tokens and NFTs exist in virtual or augmented reality environments. It's probably here: consider Fortnite users who routinely interact and transact with each other in virtual environments. However, full Web3 functionality and a truly meaningful application require the underlying technology and connectivity infrastructure to mature. The global fantasy of how the virtual world can work in the real world is only now grasping the possibilities.

Why now: The Metaverse represents a paradigm shift in the way humans interact in cyberspace. It has the potential to impact our lives in the same way that the smartphone-enabled internet did. Like any technology, the metaverse emerges in spurts. Early uses in games like Roblox and Fortnite might seem trivial until you realize that real money is changing hands in these gaming environments. (Roblox alone saw $2.7 billion worth of virtual currency purchases in 2021.) All of this means that forward-thinking companies are already exploring what's possible in the metaverse and how to build businesses there. As with digital assets, the first mover advantage can be crucial.

What works: In games, the Roblox community reached 9.6 billion hours of engagement in 2021, with a robust digital economy powered by Robux, the virtual currency version of the game. In entertainment, a Travis Scott virtual concert raised $20 million, including revenue from virtual merchandise. In retail, industry giants like Gucci are setting up virtual storefronts and selling virtual clothing for use by digital avatars in virtual environments. Apps are also popping up in industries like healthcare (mental and physical therapy group sessions in the Metaverse) and education (virtual campuses to encourage learning and collaboration across national borders).

The Creator Economy

What: YouTube trainers, social media influencers, online product reviewers — Creators are a complex new set of business stakeholders, blurring the lines between customers, product advocates, and reviewers. They are often power users themselves and can serve as a novel sales channel to reach other users. They can eclipse the companies themselves when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions and can sometimes become competitors. As a group, they are revolutionizing traditional media, distribution channels, and business models.

Why now: The creator economy has reached enormous proportions in recent years: estimated at $100 billion. One reason: Consumers are increasingly skeptical about large corporations and are looking for authenticity from the makers. This forces companies to hire these developers to drive awareness of their products and influence the innovation process. That often means relinquishing a degree of control over what those creators say and do, which many large corporations find inconvenient but necessary to protect the power of authenticity.

What's working: Grin, which closed a $110 million Series B funding round in 2021 and valued the company at $910 million, has built a platform to help brands like Warby Parker, Allbirds and Mejuri meet the Manage sales relationships with developers. The platform helps companies recruit creators, create authentic connections with them, and then analyze how those relationships work. Another new company, Pietra, emerged to provide business-building tools for the developers themselves. It connects social media entrepreneurs with fulfillment resources, e-commerce tools, packaging, and suppliers. Pietra completed a $15 million Series A round in 2021, valuing the company at $75 million.

These are major secular trends that promise to transform industries. Consumer needs are changing, the technology available to meet those needs is evolving, and commercial boundaries are likely to be redrawn. Companies that keep up don't wait for the future to appear in the sharpest focus. You mobilize now to define what's next and position yourself to succeed.

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