The New Normal – A New Blog Series

I have not blogged in a while, but given the recent changes in the world, I am starting up a new series called The New Normal. My goal is to start to get my head around how our current situation is going to change the world in the next 3-5 years. Like many have already written, I believe we are in the midst of a new normal, with changes in habits that will last a very long time.

The Current Situation – A Shock Equilibrium

The coronavirus pandemic has put the world into a complete shock equilibrium. Given the easy spread of the virus, we have instituted shelters in place, physical separation (currently 6 feet), restrictions on indoor spaces and large gatherings of people, and required mask-wearing. 

The old equilibrium of how the economy has worked has shifted. Companies that thrived just a few months ago (Airbnb, Uber, Southwest, AMC, luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus) are now struggling to survive. Environments that congregate groups of people, focus on in-person experiences or close human interactions (restaurants, concerts, sports arenas, movie theaters, airplanes, holiday travel, crowded malls, public transportation, hair stylists/salons, open-space offices, places of worship) have been shut down. Organizations have had to completely shift their experience online or suffer. 

On the other hand, online-based businesses like online shopping, online work tools, remote work tools, eSports meanwhile have exploded with huge tailwinds. Remote-workforce apps that were just trudging along a few weeks ago have exploded in growth. 

We now live in a new economy and it is very different from where we were just 2 months ago. 

The posts I write in the future are predictions based on this new normal. Keep in mind these are just predictions and bets – not absolute truths. Many will end up wrong. Unlike most blogs, I am keeping these as living documents – updating them as we learn more. I’ll do my best to include updates in the post.

Predictions

  1. We are not going back to close to pre-Covid normal until at least May/June 2021 (not 2020!).
  2. 20-30% of people in white-collar jobs will work from home at least 2 days a week.
  3. Business Travel is going to be down 40% long term.
  4. Commercial Office Space Glut, the end of the open workspace, and the beginning of rent-a-conference room booms.
  5. We may see a great unraveling of location-based company workforces and an even bigger shift-to-remote
  6. Group indoor exercise is going to be much different for the next few years
  7. An Explosion in BioPharms innovation
  8. Dine-in “Experiences” will be significantly curtailed as 30% of restaurants go out of business.
  9. We will see new models of long-distance “connection” and interactions that will last longer than Covid.
  10. Obsession with Tracking and cleanliness will lead to entirely new industries.
  11. Prediction #11: VCs, Startups and the Great Covid Business Divide
  12. Prediction #12: The Rise Of The Bootstrap Entrepreneur
  13. The No-Code Movement Is Going To Have Its Moment In The Sun
  14. Sports Betting Is Going To Explode

Prediction #14: Sports Betting Is Going To Explode.

This particular prediction might seem strange as right now very few sports are on and even ESPN is struggling with what material to air.  

However, with the launch of the MLB season, we are starting to see a lot more live sports via TV in the US. And as we do, sports betting is going to be dominant.

Here’s why: 

First, until Covid is resolved, people will be able to watch sports in only one place: their homes. Bars will be closed, sports venues will be closed, and many fewer people will go to friends’ houses (unless they have a sweet outside setup). 

So Sports is going to be consumed inside by the TV, mostly with the same family. People are going to crave interaction, feel bored and need some new “hobbies” to take on, and mostly be in places with high-speed internet and larger second screens (like tablets and laptops).  

At the same time, online-betting has recently become legal in many states, allowing spectators to easily place bets before and during live games.

This combination of events is going to result in a huge tailwind for online sports betting.

How would this happen? Here’s one scenario: First, spectators stuck in their homes are going to start consuming tons of second-screen information on the live game- far more than is given on a television screen. They’ll have their iPad nearby and no one to talk with.   

Then, instead of interacting with their friends, bar-mates or people in adjacent stadium seats, they are going to start commenting/interacting with other fans online. Their back and forth with anonymous chatters will lead to further solidifying their existing opinions. Their opinions will be further solidified by the set of second-screen data they cherry-pick to confirm it.

A surge in online-betting advertisements will encourage them to place their first bets and after that, they will be hooked. Some people will place bets against their friends. Others will place bets against the general community. Many gamblers who normally travel to Vegas and Reno for their fix will start using this as a substitute. And the thrill of placing bets and occasionally winning will cause a new industry to surge – with a plethora of new business models.

It is estimated that illegal online sports gambling in 2019 was already a $150B market or about 12x the size of Las Vegas’ gambling operations. In today’s new environment, the sports betting market is going to be even bigger.

We are already seeing many reports of a surge in retailer investors speculating in the Stock Market equities. Just wait until the NFL season starts…

Opportunities:

  • Paid newsletters providing secret betting information. Yes, these paid newsletters exist but they are going to grow and there will be a lot more of them – many focused on niches.
  • Sports chat platforms with a focus on betting. Expect there to be ample slack-type chatrooms with people focusing on betting
  • Audio-chat-rooms (clubhouse for sports): I’d expect to see some type of Audio-based chatroom for spectators to trash talk with their friends from afar. I’d also expect audio-based commentary by new “experts” who can give a different take than what’s on the TV – focused explicitly for sports betting.
  • Real-time betting advice tools: Expect paid Slack membership groups that give instantaneous betting advice.
  • Real-time betting analysis: More and more companies will emerge that use DL/ML/AI to get an “edge” in gambling
  • Peer-to-Peer betting tools. If betting becomes prolific among friends, imagine an inexpensive tool (say $20 a year) that lets you accumulate and place bets among friends. Several companies exist in this space and at least one will take off.
  • Sports betting derivatives? Derivatives enter every type of speculative/securitized industry so I expect some type of derivatives to happen here.  

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #13: The No-Code Movement Is Going To Have Its Moment In The Sun

The last few years have seen a huge increase in companies providing “No-Code” platforms. A No-code platform is an environment that lets people create working applications by linking blocks of components together without needing to know a coding framework. Nocode developers build these blocks and build out a workflow and the backend automatically figures out how to create and manage the database, manage the communication between the front-end and back end, handles the server management and allows the user to create full applications (like a simple Yelp application) without needing to know SQL, Javascript, Python or other standard development tools.

Nocode has existed for years in tightly constrained verticals.  Squarespace is an example of NoCode for basic websites, and Shopify has emerged as a (semi) no-code for eCommerce.  In the last few years, however, a number of companies have emerged who are using NoCode to build more generic, complex web applications. 

Traditionally these No-code web applications were very constrained in their capabilities. That appears to be changing at exactly the same time a number of new entrepreneurs will be trying to build new bootstrapped businesses.

I’ve been using one of these NoCode platforms (Bubble.io) to develop a few prototypes for a few months now. As a person with a CS background, I came in with low expectations and came out impressed. Bubble is much more comprehensive than what I had expected. With the correct tweaks and plugins, you can build pretty good standard applications quickly. As an example, here is a Yelp Clone, an AirBnB Clone and an Upwork Clone built in Bubble. 

If your differentiator is not purely technical, this may be a good place to start. With that in mind, NoCode (and Bubble in particular) still has major limitations and I am currently skeptical it will work for larger or tech-focused businesses. The aspects of simplicity that make no code fantastically easy in the beginning hurt it as your software becomes more and more complex.

From what I can see, no code will become the working prototype of the future. Entrepreneurs will use them to build out their first versions – getting the flow and MVP just right. If the company and needs remain small and simple, they’ll stick with no-code as it drops a ton of complexity (especially around DevOps). If their company or business explodes, they’ll have a team rebuild it with a standard programming language.

This new model of no-code prototyping -> scalable codebase will reduce overall development a ton and result in a different kind of entrepreneur as technical strength will not be required from the get-go. Instead, entrepreneurial teams will be even more focused on talent in product and front-end design.

No-code Opportunities:

  • No-code development tools paid templates and plugins. (Expect a ThemeForest for NoCode)
  • More No- code applications for specific verticals. Shopify is pretty close to a “nocode” for eCommerce. WordPress is a “nocode” blogging site. Expect more “nocodes” apps to emerge for integrations & migrations, 
  • Nocode developer certifications and developer marketplaces. We’ll see a bunch of marketplaces opening up with no-code developers who can get your product to market in weeks.
  • No-code development shops that will help non-technical entrepreneurs get to market pretty quickly and much more cheaply than with existing full-stack development platforms.

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #12: The Rise Of The Bootstrap Entrepreneur

We are in the early stages of a new era and type of entrepreneurship.

The Covid situation has opened up a whole new set of needs in terms of managing remote workforces, sanitation, telehealth, and other areas many of which will not fully go away.

In addition to these new needs, there is now going to be a large supply of entrepreneurial tinkerers. As a large portion of startup employees are now working from home (or are laid off) and as a large number of recent graduates find they cannot get new jobs, we now have a large population with the opportunity and time to start new ventures.

Pre-covid, employees working in an office would find it hard to run a side business as it would have been frowned upon by peers who saw you doing it, and there are legal ramifications such as who owns the idea if you started it at your employer’s site? Now that those people are working from home with an additional 90 minutes from no commutes, expect more people to start and manage side hustles – some of which will turn to big businesses.    

Meanwhile, recent graduates – and current students- who struggle with getting employment are now going to find themselves tinkering with new ideas to generate cash on the side.

Some of these new businesses will be VC backable, but due to barriers to discovering this new talent, the fact that everyone is remote (so it is hard to build a typical “startup office”) and entrepreneur’s need to immediately pay the bills, a lot more are going to be smaller bootstrapped ventures.

The pre-covid model was 1) leave your job, 2) work full time on a new billion-dollar idea, 3) get angel/seed funding, 4) find some expensive cool office space.  

Today’s model may be to 1) Start working on a side project on the “commute” hours from your new work-from-home environment, 2) Focus on smaller but profitable ventures that can bring in cash now, 3) build it out remotely.

This means building smaller, much faster companies. Many will be started with small amounts of cash using tools like no-code to get prototypes going. It will also mean more remote-first companies with remote support staff (remote lawyers, accountants, design contractors).

The old Angel->VC->Huge exit pathway is not going to go away. And obviously, some spaces (like remote work, biopharma) are going to be hot. But overall, I think we will see a plethora of smaller, cash-flow style businesses with a few that later become huge – similar to say 1996 or 2004.

Opportunities.

  • Finance for smaller, bootstrappable cash-flow businesses (I believe Runway.com is doing this).
  • Development tools or companies that can convert no-code to full-code. At some point, people will exhaust their no-code tools
  • Support teams for new startup ventures
  • SaaS service tools for managing smaller businesses (look at Runway.com for accounting, but there will be others for outsourcing small business support, marketing,etc…).

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #11: VCs, Startups and the Great Covid Business Divide

Covid is, has been, and will continue to affect the startup space. 

The onslaught of Covid has divided startups into two drastically different buckets depending almost completely on their vertical.

Companies who are in spaces negatively affected by Covid (think tools to help retail, restaurants, gyms, in-person excursions, hospitality, concerts, sports games) have huge headwinds and will continue to struggle as Covid has crushed those markets. This is true even for companies that had great growth before Covid. Larger startups/tech companies (like Yelp, TripAdvisor) will find the funds to weather the storm but smaller startups are going to struggle. Some may pivot/re-invent themselves but it is easier said than done. The majority are surviving thanks to PPP and other short term loans but will have a hard time continuing once that funding dries up at the end of this month. We’ll unfortunately likely see a huge list of startup shutdowns starting in August.  

On the flip side, companies who are focusing on areas that have experienced growth post-covid (online collaboration, remote workforce tools, food delivery, home office equipment, eCommerce tools) are thriving beyond their wildest expectations. Some of these companies were struggling in early 2020 and are now seen as rocket ships. As Bill Gross says, when it comes to startups, timing is everything – and Covid could not make this more clear. These companies will continue to grow in size and will have much easier access to funding. With that in mind, a lot of new startups and big players will soon crowd this space resulting in lower prices, better assortment, and new innovations.

The VC economy has adapted to this new environment after sitting on the sidelines for the last 3 months tending to their current portfolio and learning how to talk to prospects remotely. With a lot of capital they need to spend and no other places to put it, VCs are now fully back in the water, doubling-down on the areas that are exploding. The subset of companies that happened to be in the right place at the right time is getting sky-high valuations while startups on the wrong side of the new equilibrium are finding it almost impossible to get continuing funding.  

For VCs, finding and building relationships with new startups has become much tougher as networking events have been canceled and meetings are almost always remote. As a result, many are focusing on entrepreneurs with whom they have had previous relationships or investing in Series B and later rounds for more established companies. And given meetings are now remote, VCs have become more open to funding startups outside of the SF Bay Area. Living as a founder in the SF Bay Area right now has lost at least some of its benefits as there are no longer networking events or in-person VC meetings.

Will this continue? My best guess is while post-Covid there will be a rebound of in-person meetings, VCs will likely continue to expand beyond the Bay Area to source new and more diverse companies. The ship has started to sail and will likely continue to sail in that direction.

Opportunities:

  •  Recruiting firms and technologies that can transition people from failing startups to now high-performing startups
  • Private Equity firms who can buy failing startups on the cheap, and have the capital to keep them in “hibernation” until Covid blows over.
  • Remote Speed Dating or online networking tools for VCs to meet Entrepreneurs.
  • Angel investments in great entrepreneurs. Now is the time to look more at the entrepreneur and their potential than the market as you have much more information on the former than the latter and there will be much less competition.
  • More use of connection tools like HouseParty, etc. to find ways for VCs/entrepreneurs to connect to replace networking events.
  • Rise of nifty presentation tools to make your remote pitch look great (for example, mmhmm.com)
  • It’s a good time to start a startup outside of the Bay Area!

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #10: Obsession with Tracking and cleanliness will lead to entirely new industries.

As we continue lifting the shelter in place and open up more venues and businesses without a vaccine, companies are going to become more concerned about maintaining a safe and clean environment.

Consumer demand is going to drive the businesses’ success and consumer fear of catching Covid is going to drive their decisions. Consumers will make judgments about how safe a location is before venturing in, and many will not enter a workplace or retail establishment if they do not feel safe.

At the same time, given the possible severe consequences of a high-risk person catching covid and given the ability to trace its origin, Companies are going to be concerned about huge liabilities of a spread in their location. (Imagine the lawsuits if a company did not have great sanitary practices and caused covid spread).

As a result, venues will have a strong incentive to a) maintain a high level of sanitation and b) signal that they have a high level of sanitation.

This will spur on a huge new industry of tracking/cleanliness and certification. A New York Times article recently discussed a number of new businesses and procedures but this is just the beginning.  

Expect a large number of innovations and businesses that capitalize on a venue’s desire to keep its patrons safe and signal that they are safe.

Quick Opportunities (note: many of these are already happening!):

  • Tools that can give you the danger level of getting Covid in your immediate area. (i.e. something that may alert you when Covid starts spiking near you).
  • Inexpensive Daily Covid tests using Saliva and tools for tracking that within companies.
  • Non-touch electric soap dispensers with timers built-in (a light changes from red to green when 20 seconds have expired). (Apple trumped me on this one with their automatic timer…)
  • AI tools that help determine if people are 6 feet away or more and are wearing masks.
  • UV LIGHT devices that can scan and disinfect areas quickly and at scale.
  • New ventilation and filtration systems
  • New Certification businesses that rank the safety of different venues based on their policies. (think of it as a Covid version of a Restaurant safety rating system).
  • New businesses or segments of businesses focused on cleanliness/sanitation processes
  • New “Covid Sanitation” service businesses to clean out venues after someone was found to be infected.

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #9 – We will see new models of long-distance “connection” and interactions that will last longer than Covid.

As we have been under restrictions for such a long time, people have started getting used to connecting and chatting from far away. Pre-covid, people would primarily use the phone, email, and social media to bridge times when they connect in person.   

Now meeting in person is more difficult and more stressful when it happens. Poker games, board nights, networking events – all of them feel different in a Covid era.

As a result, there will be a lot of new products in the social connection space – some from trying to help individuals socially connected and some from businesses keeping their remote workforces emotionally connected.

For example, with continuing restrictions on large group gatherings, we may start seeing new forms of remote birthday parties and other celebrations. With a remote birthday party, friends from across the world can participate in a video-birthday or service like Tribute.co where friends can share happy memories remotely instead of meeting in person. This may be more useful for post-college graduates where more and more friends are geographically dispersed. For younger kids, expect some type of class-setting (like lego building) where kids are sent supplies ahead of time and all complete the same project together remotely.

We’ll also see new remote-forms of board game night and interactive games. Remote-based poker, for example, is skyrocketing.

On top of this, in-person experience companies (like in-person entertainment) are pivoting to the online space – ushering in new innovative techniques that might survive the pandemic era. Magicians, plays, and high-end circuses, for example, are now hosting online video-based shows. A lot of in-person escape rooms have pivoted to online-based remote escape rooms, creating innovative collaborative puzzles that can be solved by teams remotely. While the vast majority of these in-person experiences will revert to in-person, expect a few innovations to last past covid and new remote-only services to emerge – especially as businesses try to find new ways to keep their remote workforces connected.

One interesting innovation will be the influx of atom+bit innovations where companies will send boxes of items to use in a remote setting. Some wineries are offering remote wine & cheese pairings where tasting boxes are sent remotely so they can do the pairing remotely via video. And in terms of entertainment, one magician is already sending boxes to people that they will use in their remote performance. This combination of atom+bit will likely continue.

These innovations will not usurp in-person activities. When the pandemic ends, we’ll see a return to in-person games and partying. But expect some shift to remote as they start to allow things you could not have before (like playing party games with friends across the country) or celebrating with people too far to meet up in person.

Opportunities

  • New apps that combine video with interactive games (think online versions of Codenames, Pictionary, Catan, etc. that interact with video)
  • Transformation of in-person experiences to be hybrid. Think of wineries offering new wine/cheese tastings, 
  • An online immersive video-chat version of an escape room. Teams join together for video-chat and explore a virtual environment together to solve collaborative puzzles together to escape. (Think of a more intense collaborative and condensed version of Myst). While the environment may be virtual, the room may include one or more live human actors at different intervals to add to the experience (and make people feel like it is worth the money). Escape rooms like The Truth About Edith are already doing an early version of this.
  • Online concerts and sports with a second-screen video where you can watch with your friends. 
  • The remote version of a Chuck-E-Cheese experience. Imagine an “arcade-based-birthday” where kids can use an app to play an assortment of arcade-based collaborative games with each other and get “points” to be used on novelty items (that might be sent to them).  
  • Zoom-based live Karaoke – but perhaps TikTok captures most of this.
  • Remote birthday party based companies – offering zoom-based birthdays with the main event (like a magician).
  • “Collaborative” movie viewings – watch a newly released movie with your friends remotely – seeing both the movie screen and your friends’ reactions.

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction 8: Dine-in “Experiences” will be significantly curtailed as 30% of restaurants go out of business.

NOTE: this was written in May but I got around to posting it now. Still, much of it is relevant.

Currently, approximately 3% of restaurants have closed down due to the pandemic. Expect that to grow to 20-30% by the time we are done. As restrictions open up, restaurants are going to have to comply with new sanitation/disinfection measures as well as physical isolation including having chairs not facing each other, shorter dining durations, preferences towards outdoor dining, and physical separation. Given a likelihood to wear masks, the once casual, enjoyable experience will become much more stressful with constant reminders of the hidden virus. Due to these factors, I expect in-person restaurant traffic will remain at 30-50% lower levels for the next 12-18 months. Fast-food, takeout, outdoor and short stay restaurants will handle this better as people will be more likely to do shorter trips. Restaurants that are well suited to takeout/delivery will shift almost exclusively to that model as they will not be able to financially support keeping a restaurant open at max 50% capacity.

Many restaurants that are suitable for pickup/delivery will survive based on that model. Think Thai, Burmese, Chinese – where the cuisine is the main driver to the restaurant (vs the indoor experience) and the cuisine can hold up to a 15-minute wait in a box.  

Luxury/fancy/experiential restaurants catering to long meals and business meals will suffer the most either shutting down or doubling down on exclusivity and price. Restaurants with the capability will expand their outdoor seating, including -with a city’s help – expanding into sidewalks and streets. Food trucks -which cater to to-go and outdoor eating – should also thrive.

Opportunities:

  • Expect a huge increase in the convenience of curbside pickup. Rather than paying the price (and suffering the wait) for delivery, restaurants will allow you to schedule a time to pick up, text when you have arrived, and then drop the item in your car while you double-park. Popularity for curbside pickup will grow as people realize it is faster and more pleasurable than going into a store for a pickup. 
  • A new “contactless pickup-only” style restaurant will emerge that only provides contactless pickup. Think of it as the next generation of drive-through. Starbucks and Sonic have shown this model to work and it will continue with others.
  • Expect luxury restaurants to pivot to completely “private dining” with pods of isolated private, highly ventilated rooms – perhaps each with a virus destroying ventilation device like a Molekule Air Pro RX.
  • Expansion of food trucks and extensions of “Off The Grid” type programs where groups of food trucks will support a park or open area with chairs and outdoor seating.
  • “Ghost Kitchens” – Kitchens and restaurants made entirely for delivery services like UberEats.
  • Tools to enable online ordering for food trucks.
  • Companies offering disposable dining ware should see a long-term explosion in growth.

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #7 An Explosion in BioPharms innovation

The Pandemic has unleashed a world-wide “Manhattan Project” across all biochemical and pharmaceutical companies to find vaccines and treatments. Companies across the world are streamlining and improving their processes and technologies to quickly find cures and vaccines. Biopharmaceutical companies are learning agile techniques that they will use to speed up future innovations long after a Covid vaccine. Governments are “temporarily” removing regulations to get products to market which I expect will become permanent once they realize how many more life-saving drugs start appearing.   

We are likely going to see a golden era explosion in Biopharmaceutical companies as well as companies focusing tools/supplies for hospitals resulting in great businesses and much better care.  

On top of this, we are learning more about how to control viral spread daily which will reap long term health benefits. In the next 12-18 months, the world is going to likely be far more effective at protecting virus spread (better air filtration, masks during flu seasons, better hand-washing), better at detecting and helping to determine who specifically is most at risk (even on a genetic level), better at early detection of complications and better at identifying which techniques are most effective for reducing viral attacks.

NOTE: A counter-argument was provided to me that we may not see as much innovation here as viruses have much more variation than bacteria so finding general antiviral treatments will be much harder than finding antibiotics, and that loose regulations have been limited to Covid.    

Still, I am optimistic that a number of the learnings we will have from Covid in terms of innovative process improvements, regulatory improvements, and treatment improvements will be transferable to other current and future diseases.

There are going to be a huge number of opportunities in this space including:

  • New software to help biopharmaceuticals be more efficient with the new regulatory landscape. 
  • New types of supply and tool innovations to stop the viral spread.
  • New tools and techniques for identifying viral load early (which can be used for other viruses in the future).
  • Collaboration tool for pre-print papers. Think of a Figma or google docs for pre-print papers where scientists can post comments and questions.

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #6: Group indoor exercise is going to be much different for the next few years

Assuming we need masks and 6 feet of separation in indoor spaces, in-person group exercise places are going to have a major shock.  

Gyms and Basketball Facilities

With recent reports showing the spread of the virus in exercise areas, expect a huge decrease in the number of gyms, basketball facilities, etc. Expect a large number of gyms near offices to go bankrupt while some premium gyms switch to a more premium, appointment-based model that limits the number of people in a gym. Also expect a lot more expenses on cleaning. Meanwhile, expect an increase in at-home equipment purchases and subscriptions to virtual instructors like Peloton, Future Fit and Tonal.

The end of Dance facilities/Spin facilities – 

Dance facilities, spin facilities – recent studies in South Korea have shown that dance facilities are a vector for the virus given the close quarters and heavy breathing. Given the close quarters and the fact masks likely cannot be worn during exertion, it seems unlikely that these facilities will be able to open until the virus has been removed. This will result in 50%+ of facilities closing. The ones that survive will start their own online exercise programs – similar to Peloton and Peloton dance. I hypothesize that we will see a huge increase in online dance classes and online dance class platforms. We may also see new technologies emerge to use video AI to judge form or take individual dancers and combine them into a video.  

 Oopportunities: 

  • Appointment software for gyms
  • At-home video trainers(i.e. future fit, Mirror, Tonal and Peloton).
  • Home gym equipment both basic (dumbbells) and interconnected (Mirror, Tonal)
  • Online dance studio software. Software that lets dance studio professionals produce professional-quality videos online.
  • Dance Studio hardware – cameras and flashes to allow dance studios to promote their workouts.
  • Crowdsourced video-based games – think of a new generation of DDR. Expect a network-ed version of Dance Dance revolution letting people play against each other using video AI.
  • Outdoors dance studios – a proliferation of dance and yoga classes that are outdoors during sunny days.
  • Home equipment using AI to check and adjust for dance moves.
  • Higher volume of online-based personalized training (think Peloton, Future Fit)
  • Increase in home “sport courts” and putting greens for backyards including new backyard sporting good facilities.
  • Exercise-ready masks (masks with materials that can prevent covid spread but also allow people to breathe more deeply when exercising)

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com

Prediction #5: We may see a great unraveling of location-based company workforces and an even bigger shift-to-remote

As companies now have the capability and experience to do work remotely, they will start realizing they can attract talent way far away. Outsourcing (to other parts of the US and the world) will start becoming much more normal. 

Inexpensive cities, remote talent will become attractive initially for the cost.  Why pay 100K for a marketing manager SF when you can get someone in Austin or Boulder for 60K?  Eventually, companies will realize they can get even better talent remotely as their talent pool explodes 100x.

In non-tech or corporate hubs, expect new companies to start emerging where taxes are lower as they can now start recruiting from anywhere.  Founders will remote companies in places like Wyoming and Nevada and grab the best talent from across the country as more will be comfortable with remote-only work.

This will have major ramifications:

  • Expect a decrease in value in city real-estate. While cities still have value (culture, restaurants, dating) a lot of that value is hindered in a “socially distant” pandemic world with no large gatherings and density-based disease hot-spots.  If people can work remotely full time, expect many to move to burbs with some culture but more space, less density, and less cost.
  • Expect a shift from CA to other states.  If remote workforces really do take off, we may see an exodus of 20% of people from the SF bay area and NYC.  Not everyone will move but enough might have major implications on the areas.

Opportunities:

  • Software and tools that are optimized for remote only workforces will take off even more long term.  Think always-on video, or recruiting tools based only on video chat.
  • Rethink every in-person process long term as a remote process.
  • Expect a boom in remote-only job sites and application tracking.  
  • Networking tools for remote-only companies that are focused on building a connection. = Imagine a Coffee chat-roulette type app for employees within a business. Sync calendars and randomly do remote coffee.  The explosion of tools like Donut to promote serendipitous connections between company people.
  • Introduction of tools that express and emphasize the companies “core values” and OKRs across all products (imagine it embedded in Slack, Asana, Figma, etc…)
  • A new generation of collaborative, remote brainstorming tools
  • Benefits companies based on remote workforces (what benefits can you give to replace in-store eating, and how do you handle health insurance across the world?)
  • Tools that help remote workforces maintain and enhance their culture.  (Remote Core Values Quizzes, 

If you currently are working on one of these opportunities or want to work on them, please contact me at charlie at iamcharliegraham dot com