As a business writer, I’m often asked for the best entrepreneur advice about how to identify the next big idea. In fact, every December, I’m inundated with requests to predict trends for the upcoming new year. But, the truth is, in our increasingly convoluted landscape of technology, it’s hard to identify what will stick.

Which is why when I stumbled across one entrepreneurial tech team, I was surprised to learn that their ventures were successful again and again…and again.

The team behind Augmented Reality (AR) technology company CrowdOptic has had three successful acquisitions. Spearheaded by co-founding CEO, Jon Fisher, they built and sold Netclerk (acquired by Roper Technologies), and AutoReach (acquired by AutoNation). Most recently, their company Bharosa – which produced the Oracle Adaptive Access Manager – reportedly sold to Oracle Corporation for $50 million.

Three successful acquisitions is an unprecedented track record. So what is it that Fisher and his dream team knows about entrepreneurial stickiness that we don’t?

Taking a closer look at the team’s current venture, CrowdOptic, illuminated some takeaways for aspiring technology startups. So, how do we identify the next big idea? Here’s are some tips.

Be First

It’s no secret that being first-to-market has serious advantages, but it’s not enough to simply launch before competitors. Having a sizable edge requires years of foresight and deep industry knowledge.

By the time Pokemon Go made headlines last year with Augmented Reality, CrowdOptic had already been experimenting with the technology for years. As far back as 2013, their technology was being used by companies like L’Oreal to create virtual events, discoverable through the screen of a smartphone.

That is to say, by the time AR made waves in business and consumer tech, it was too late for newcomers to enter the market with the kind of momentum Fisher’s team has. It’s not enough to forecast trends for the next year – savvy tech entrepreneurs are years ahead.

Have Multidisciplinary Applications

As Andrew Carnegie said, “Capitalism is about turning luxuries into necessities.” Over the course of my lifetime, such has been the case for cellphones (and now smartphones), GPS, and the Internet.

What did these things have in common? They engaged technologies with far-reaching applications and created solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had.

CrowdOptic’s algorithms, which enable smartphones and wearables to live-stream video, have already been used in medicine, sports and government. The implications of the technology are unlimited – consumers can use it to “look through walls” or other obstacles by seamlessly curating the best view of an area of interest with smartglasses, while the Department of Defense can use CrowdOptic’s algorithms to understand where devices, like drones, are looking in common during sensitive military operations.

In the same way that GPS doesn’t just get us from point A to point B, but is integrated in most actions with our smart devices, CrowdOptic’s algorithms can create technological dependence. That kind of dependence is the difference between a luxury and a necessity.

Follow the Money

Fisher’s team didn’t fall into Augmented Reality on accident. The market is expected to reach $117.40 billion by 2022 and investments in AR and VR (Virtual Reality) hit $1.7 billion last year.

By following market trends and forecasts, aspiring tech entrepreneurs can uncover the direction of an industry, identify gaps, and make informed decisions about what to create and how quickly they need to move to be meaningful.

While there’s no certain formula for building the next big thing, being ahead of the curve with far-reaching applications in an expanding market is a great place to start.

Stephen is a writer, teacher, and lover of innovation.

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