When we reflected on the year at the end of 2020, a few things sprung out: the sheer chaos inflicted by the Coronavirus, or COVID, as we now call it. It caused all kinds of new problems – with new startups emerging to solve these problems.
Redundancy and furlough led to the talent pool increasing and the quality of start up teams increased, a key predictor of startup success. Productivity jumped as people found new ways to save time, skipping their daily commute and switching meetings to shorter Zoom calls.
Whilst 2020 was devastating on a personal front, there was no shortage of innovation. So where does that leave us towards the end of 2021?
The Antisocial Networks
Whether it’s Brexit, anti-vax debates, or anything in any way political, it’s clear that social networks are incurring serious strain in their never-ending challenge to chase engagement. Facebook’s recent rebrand ‘Meta’ makes logical sense to deflect some of the focus away from it.
Facebook’s commitment to the metaverse has led to considerable interest in the space from Venture X, with key investors coming out as hugely bullish, even if very few people can clearly define what the metaverse is, or will become. So what is a metaverse, anyway?
According to Andy Liu from Unlock Ventures “It’s the intersection of the physical and digital worlds, where augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain-based environments enable people to develop and live in new ‘worlds’ — a fully immersive experience to express themselves, connect, interact, conduct commerce, and experience a whole new reality.”
One of key questions on investors’ lips is will the metaverse be dominated by the Metas and Microsofts, or more nimble startup? Eitherway, expect an onslaught of new metaverse startups emerging in the new year.
Good COP, bad COP?
COP26 had some clear outputs from cutting methane emissions to curbing oil and gas exploration, protecting forests and shifting from coal to clean power. Whether COP26 went far enough or not to keep the goal of a 1.5 degree temperature rise by the end of 2030 is still for discussion.
However, in the words of AIN’s Head of Impact and CEO of SeedTribe, Liv Sibony,
‘If you’re looking at predictions, one thing I would say is that big companies and governments are now committing to much higher standards of environmentalism, and that demand will stimulate growth/the market for start-ups offering environmental solutions, especially in the B2B space’.
Whilst it’s too early to see the direct impact on start up innovation, it will certainly be interesting to see the startups that step up as a result of COP induced changes in legislation.
Are we WFHing?
As the COVID pandemic started to recede, only to spike again with Omicron, one of the things that became clear is that no one knows where they are going to be working.
There was the colour coding your bookshelf stage, the pimping your home office with external mic, light and webcam, and then the ‘pingdemic’, with those in shared offices in particular, waiting to be pinged.
In short, we’ve tried a lot of different ways of working over the last year, and the one thing that we can agree on is, well, it’s hard to predict where we’re going to be working next year.
Whatsmore with escalating inflation and a spiral in wage demands, there’s a clear war for top talent emerging. How to attract and retain top talent is going to be clearly front of mind for startups in 2022.
According to Nadine Campbell, Ace Entrepreneurs, ‘in the UK while just 5% of founding teams have two female founders, research has also shown that only 1% of venture-funded startups have black founders. In the USA, black startup entrepreneurs still received only a tiny fraction, 1.2%, of the $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups’.
With movements such as Black Lives Matter providing a catalyst for a growing number of new funds and outfits supporting underrepresented founders, there’s a growing acceptance about how diverse team are better rounded, have less blindspots and ultimately, are better positioned to achieve a higher valuation multiple.
We see some positive steps in the right direction and challenge our whole investor community to think about what you can do to help accelerate this.
At AIN, our mission is ‘to connect the world to enable investors to back the great business of tomorrow’.
For us, it has been a strong year, we’ve launched a fund, AIV capital, enabling investors to back later stage, high potential companies, we’ve had record number of investors signing up to the platform, and a 15% increase in investor connections being made with entrepreneurs.
Ultimately, it wouldn’t have been possible without you, our investors and entrepreneurs, and the AIN team for all their hard work.
We know how hard it can be to switch off, but hope you get a chance to recharge in the festive period. See you in 2022.