By Eoin O'Hara
What happened in tech in 2015?
The sharing economy
If you hadn’t heard about the sharing economy this time last year, you certainly have now.
I imagine it is an indication of a fast maturing sector that vast swathes of founders are buying into the notion of collaborative consumption as an essential element of business creation and growth.
I have searched to find a definition which describes the sharing economy in a way which can be made most relevant to the tech startup ecosystem, and this is the best I am yet to find (from thepeoplewhoshare.com)
“The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.”
2015 has been the year when many have applied the ethos of the sharing economy to the growth and development of their own startup.
We have seen it have a fundamental impact on the entrepreneurial mind-set, and particularly with regards to the highly skilled tech startup field.
Lots of facilitation platforms have been created both on and offline, which allow for the free exchange of skills, resources, and expertise, with many entrepreneurs now willing to engage in barter arrangements or mutually beneficial agreements without financial exchanges.
My prediction for 2016 is that whilst the range and scope of ‘sharing economy startups’ continues to grow, so too will the number of entrepreneurs using their philosophy as a vehicle for growth and development.
Conferences and technology exposé
The tech conference and expo circuit has expanded incredibly over the past 12 months, not only in terms of footfall but also in the sheer number and variety of events taking place right across the globe.
This upsurge in scale has been particularly pronounced across the UK and Ireland with major international events experiencing marked increases in attendance and new tech-themed gatherings springing up in surprising places.
A major driving force behind this rapidly expanding sector is the ever-increasing dominance of cloud computing and mobile technologies, which use these events as an arena for discussion, promotion, marketing and which business leaders now see as an essential part of their long-term business strategies.
What’s more, the form and function of these events is changing rapidly too, with most now divided into numerous ‘mini-conferences’, with more emphasis being placed on actively assisting businesses through ‘clinics’ rather than just passive information transferral.
Two tech conferences which have demonstrated these trends rather well are;
Web Summit Dublin - ‘Where the tech world meets’
Likened to Disneyland for tech folk, Web Summit 2015 was attended by 42,000 people, double the number of 2014. The flagship event has also spawned a number of smaller, though still sizeable conferences including MoneyConf, EnterConf, Surge, & Collision. In 2016 Web Summit will be hosted in Lisbon Portugal.
Apps World London
One of the world's largest mobile technology gatherings pulls digital leaders from all corners of the globe to ExCeL London. As mobile tech continues to be at the top of the agenda for businesses everywhere this conference is weaving this reliance into the structure of its events and placing London at the centre of the mobile app ecosystem. Next year’s event will take place in November, and is certainly worth a look for any entrepreneur - tech or otherwise.
Growth hacking and supercharging
The idea of ‘Growth Hacking’ has been around since 2010 when entrepreneur and angel investor Sean Ellis coined the term in a blog post stating that a ‘growth hacker’ is “a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinised by its potential impact on scalable growth”.
Over the course of 2015 some would argue that discussions around the various methodologies of growth hacking have reached a critical level, feeding into a growing startup ethos which promotes rapid growth above all else… supercharged startups if you will.
It is another spawn of the ‘lean startup methodology’, where phenomenal success can be achieved with the minimum of capital expenditure, and new innovations can be accelerated to massive uptake within a relatively short space of time.
Useful growth hacking tools abound and are almost exclusively designed to promote rapid growth within the digital space. However, there is a growing and ever more vocal school of thought which is sounding notes of caution to startups who use growth hacking tools to leapfrog their way to success. This emerging prudence is embedding in the same concerns which are racking the startup community with regards to cyber security; a sense that the lean-startup methodology (including growth hacking) is creating startups which try to run before their can walk, achieving ‘success’ long before their have the systems and experience in place to deal with it.
Will 2016 be the year that the ‘happily ever after’ ideas of growth hacking and supercharging are replaced by a more cautious, but ultimately more realistic approach to developing a business?
Tech trends of 2015 - part one
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer and lead copywriter at Startacus.net.