While the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world in an unprecedented way and brought many businesses to a halt, the enforced digitisation has accelerated the pace of various new and existing sectors. Although some of these sectors may lose their momentum after the pandemic as some of the most affected industries recover, many of the newly-created trends are expected to see long-term success. Consequently, we can already envisage a different post-COVID world from the one that pre-COVID.
Let’s take a closer look at the startup sectors that are most likely to flourish after the end of COVID-19.
‘Managed’ office spaces
Although the adoption of a “work-from-home” culture seemed daunting to many companies before the pandemic, remote-working proved to be equally productive and, what’s more, very cost-effective. As a result, many startups have either left their spaces or reduced the office size. On the other hand, the quarantine gave the workers a chance to contemplate the values of office work, and now many of them want space where they can socialise and separate their work time from homelife. In this case, what comes in as a perfect solution for both companies and employees are ‘managed office spaces’. They do not only cut operational costs for employers but also provide various benefits to employees including the ability to reduce commute time and to choose a place of their liking
Davide Dattoli, co-founder and CEO of Talent Garden, said: “We believe that coworking will grow a lot, people now trust in remote working but they also understand the value of staying with colleagues to share experiences also offline.”
Wider takeup of digital edtech
Educational institutions were already incorporating digital infrastructure, but were facing many challenges, eventually leading to slow adoption over decades. Then came COVID-19 and the forced the employment of various EdTech platforms overnight. Since then, the world’s startup hubs, including London as a leading EdTech hub in Europe, have been developing an ever-growing number of EdTech solutions that find their usage in various places from universities and schools, to remote employee onboarding, and upskilling to learn new skills and hobbies.
Numerous EdTech startups like MyTutor, Tech Will Save Us, and Kide Science closed rounds during the lockdown and the numbers are expected to grow even post-COVID, as many need to acquire new skills to adapt to the new market conditions.
The demand for contactless solutions has also accelerated the employment of fintech services, another sector that rose with a much greater speed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This growth has been additionally facilitated by many new fintech laws and regulations across Europe which were implemented as a response to the situation. As a result, users are now tapping into much more personalised, and multi-optional financial experiences and are eagerly watching new trends, in areas such as banking and payments, insurtech, and proptech which are among the top ones to look out for in 2021.
From cloud-native card payments platforms like Silverflow, to spending management platforms like Spendesk, to cashback apps like Joko, fintech startups are making buzz everywhere in Europe, and further advances are expected in the decade to come.
Boost for self-care (health and wellness)
The pandemic has pushed health and wellness services online. What’s more, it has helped us realise the importance of self-care for coping with times of distress and leading a healthy and efficient lifestyle. This has resulted in a boom of online health and wellness services such as telehealth tech, remote diagnostics, and monitoring, remote mental healthcare, online fitness, healthy diets, motivational contents, and more.
The example of Urban, a British wellness app that tripled its crowdfunding target, clearly speaks about the current user-driven popularity of the self-care sector. With that in mind, and as these services become more familiar to users, the self-care sector is very likely to grow even after the pandemic’s restrictions.
HR tech: Cloud, SaaS, remote-working platforms
The rise of HR SaaS and remote-working platforms in times of COVID-19 is not surprising. As the business sector was forced to make adjustments to business operations, these tools came in as saviours for productivity levels and provided the businesses with innovative and secure ways to optimize their ongoing projects and access their data centres. Businesses are also now understanding the value and operational simplicity that cloud adoption can bring to their IT environments, and various reports forecast a further increase in the use of SaaS solutions in 2021 and beyond.
A boom in OTT
As more and more people have been subscribing to OTT (Over The Top) platforms during the pandemic lockdowns, the global OTT market is expected to track remarkable growth this year. Consumers’ habits were already changing before COVID-19, but the social isolation measures led to increased interest in online content and brought OTT platforms to almost everyone’s home – a trend which is very likely to stay afloat.
Some of the most popular examples of OTT platforms are Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix which imply that America is the most advanced over-the-top market. However, the European market is catching up, and with startups like Filmdoo, Discover.film, and Uncut ranking among the top European alternatives to Netflix the old continent shows a huge potential to compete in the global OTT market.
A win for online gaming
The enormous consumption of online gaming is not a new trend, but COVID-19 has also taken this sector to a new level with many gaming companies and platforms reporting increased revenues during the pandemic. Furthermore, there is an emergence of new industry trends such as cloud-based gaming. Additionally, gaming is not only about playing anymore, but it is also about watching.
Startups like the Stockholm-based NAG Studios are focused on building the next generation of gaming culture where competition is the main drive. Having all of this in mind, it is highly likely that there is a bright future ahead of the gaming startups.
Delivery and e-commerce services are bringing it home
Unsurprisingly, our shopping habits may also be affected long-term, with e-commerce and delivery services booming at large. The shift toward e-commerce was happening before COVID-19, but according to new data from IBM, the pandemic has accelerated consumers’ shift toward e-commerce by five years.
Travel finds a way, while e-mobility zooms ahead
One thing we are all looking forward to once the world becomes a safer place for our health is going back to traveling. Even this fact alone speaks enough about the likeliness of the travel industry to be among the top sectors which will reshape the post-COVID era. And, as a matter of fact, some startups like GetYourGuide are already preparing for the tourism bounceback. The road to recovery will be tough though, and domestic destinations may be the first choice for many.
On the other side of the coin, e-mobility solutions, which offer both sustainable ways to move around as well as maintaining social distancing, are set to continue their upward trajectory. From e-scooters being trialed in the UK for hopefully permanent installment, to e-bikes being rolled out in new locations, and startups landing funding, the sector has a positive signs on the horizon.
Looking forwards to a sustainable future
In any case, one theme that connects all of the above-mentioned sectors and runs throughout each of them in different ways, is sustainability. The public’s attention has been focused on this topic now more than ever, due to a plethora of reasons, including debates on the positive effect on the environment since we all slowed down, to thinking more deeply about where our food comes from. In any case, this theme is set to touch many sectors as we move forward into 2021 and beyond, bringing new opportunities for European startups no matter their industry.