After two years of covid, a war in Europe, and now a significant recession, are you tired of startups that only aim at solving pizza delivery?
I know I am.
As it happens, troubled times have some upside; while incumbents are down, they favor up-start businesses and level the competitive playfield. To quote the Stanford economist Paul Romer “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste." And while reading more and more reports of perfect storms disrupting several markets simultaneously, I couldn't help thinking of this—the opportunities.
Here are seven actionable problems to solve with massive upside for anyone getting in as we speak:
- Because primates won't be used as research subjects anymore in Europe, we need dozens (if not more) of new in vitro models to sustain biopharmaceutical research.
- Animal rescue shelters are saturated, and although doing something about these animals being treated as throw-away furniture, they're also a marker of our explosive needs for love and empathy. Who's working on anything else than BS apps on the explosive social needs stemming from teen depression, elderly citizens' loneliness, or long-term illnesses?
- The market for online advertising is crashing down (partly for its intrinsic ineffectiveness, partly from Apple and TikTok assaulting it). What's the next generation of tools to connect consumers and producers that will not be another revival of the TV ads mindset?
- The global fruit and vegetable production market are in turmoil because of irreversible climate change and the disruption of our global supply chains. Where are the next-gen food producers, and will local/automated agriculture be finally a thing? (To be fair, quite a few contenders in this arena.)
- Emerging markets are the weakest in decades. Where are the cheap and efficient infrastructure tools, power generation, and desalination technologies promised decades ago?
- Air travail is disrupted worldwide by airports and airlines running on thin margins and unable to manage their human resources (this is Latin for incompetence). Where are the fabled alternatives that will also deliver low-carbon travels to all of us?
- Construction is facing an unprecedented lack of materials, spikes in prices all across the board, and costlier regulations to comply with. Should we expect anything from 3D printing technologies at this point? New green materials? Or simply a foray into proper recycling of old buildings at a massive scale?
These are all critical billion-dollar problems to solve, and all the solutions and technologies to get there are not about quantum computing and science-fiction promises. We've tried many things, and yet, nothing scaled.
Europe is now moving forward on some of these issues. It's going to be too slow (at best). How do we put more momentum into these topics and others that, of course, I'm missing here?