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May 26, 2020    Burn Book

What Will Be Driving Emerging Tech Startups in 2021?


It’s official– the “Digital Era” is a thing of the past. Well, past and present. It’s not so new, shiny, and impressive as before to talk about things like digitalization. All those startups are piled up in Cupertino garages in the ‘80s. While people are still finding new ways to manifest that technology (have you ever heard of people not making apps anymore?), we have entered into a newer and greater era: the era of DARQ.

Breaking Down DARQ

DARQ is just an abbreviation of four categories of emerging technology. And it’s a DARQ backbone that will be holding up the emerging tech startups we’ll see in 2021. Investors and marketing agencies, hold onto your pants; we’re moving fast.

D: Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

A distributed ledger is, “a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiplees, countries, or institutions. There is no central administrator or centralized data storage” (Thanks, Wiki). One well-known example: Bitcoin uses blockchain technology, which falls in the DLT category.

It finds uses in finance, art, supply chains, precious assets, and basically anything where a distributed ledger enhances the security or efficiency of an asset or operation. Granted, that’s vague as heck, but that’s because its uses can be so widespread.

Think of a distributed ledger as a safer and more hack-resistant method for asks like licensing and social security because no single entity can make huge changes; there’s not one central headquarters or storage of data to attack or pry your way into. In the same vein, it can provide more operational efficiency and transparency because it can do things like operate 24/7, operate faster (did you think 1-click transactions could get faster? What about in store?), and leave a detailed trail of actions.

If you’re thinking DLT will be used by banks, government, corporations, institutions, universities, etc…. You’re right.

A: Artificial intelligence (AI)

We’ve seen AI (also machine learning) growth over the decade. From Siri and smart wearables to civilian robots and delivery drones, AI is far from a plateau in advancement. 2020/21 will be nothing but more of the same accelerated growth for emerging tech startups as entrepreneur and inventor spirits explore new ways to use it.

R: Extended Reality (XR)

Extended reality, encompassing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has been seen penetrating the market. Outside of getting parents to break their TVs, this primarily has arrived in the form of enhancing buying decisions from consumers. Whether for finding the right shade for makeup, seeing what a product looks like on- or in-person, getting a sneak peak into the destination you may buy a plane ticket to, or enhancing collaboration between remote teams of people, XR is obviously just getting started. It would be un-human and historically unprecedented to see such a technology cease to spread into new tech manifestations and startups. Plus, it’s really cool. Anything that regularly crosses bridges of utilization from fantasy games to corporate boardrooms and scientific studies has our eye.

Q: Quantum Computing (QC)

Looking through how quantum computing is and will continue to change the face of emerging tech startups reveals a lot of expansive and complicated results, including technical terms the general educated populous might have a hard time navigating.

So instead of diving into entangling qubits, superpositioning, destructive interference, and cooling quantum chips with dilution refrigerators, here’s the summed-up lowdown on QC as it relates to your money, and tech startups to watch the rest of this year and next.

Classical computers, like that in most every household and pocket, are not equipped with quantum computing. They work with bits, 0s and 1s, and everything you can learn in a computer science class from the last decade. Quantum computers, however, fundamentally change the process through which a computer decodes information. To put it simply, instead of just reading a string of 0s and 1s, it can now read a “spinning” 0 or 1, exponentially expanding the way in which we can solve problems we previously thought impossible or mysterious.

Quantum computing is on the brink of changing technology and the world as we see it and know it today. Even though a large-scale one does not yet exist, institutions do have access to quantum technology, and consumer access to quantum processing via the Cloud is already available.

Forget the Machine Age & The Renaissance, These are DARQ Times

Those behind the curve in keeping an eye on the startups that will succeed used to be able to catch up over time, with more energy. Now, as emerging tech emerges faster than we can predict, there’s a much higher risk of losing your place in the market.

It will only be the startups that understand staying human, relatable, trustworthy, and cohesively branded, that will succeed. We know one thing: amongst the onslaught of slide decks about to hit angel investors, amongst the pile of handwritten notes and coffee shop ideas, and amongst the products and services being put in front of consumers, only 1 set of them come out on top: the ones smart enough to brand themselves, in the beginning, correctly. Boldly, cohesively, strategically

Lucky for them, that’s an art we’ve been practicing, evolving, and succeeding in for a decade. Integrated marketing matters, B2B advertising, brand strategy– that’s the era we’ve always lived in.

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