20 Small Business Trends and Predictions for 2018

Here are 20 key ideas, trends, and predictions to keep in mind in order to make the most of 2018 for both your business and your customers.

20 Small Business Trends and Predictions for 2018

Another year has come to a close and businesses are preparing to enter 2018 with a bang.

What do entrepreneurs expect heading into the new year? Business News Daily got in touch to find out some of the major things on their radar. Here are 20 key ideas, trends, and predictions to keep in mind in order to make the most of 2018 for both your business and your customers.

A shift in IT spending: “A significant number of enterprises will begin to invest in a dedicated security operations center as part of the shift away from prevention towards detection and response … Hybrid security offerings combining on-premise and SaaS/Cloud solutions will become the dominant architecture with customers beginning to integrate these offerings starting in 2018.” – Prakash Nagpal, vice president of Infoblox.

The Cloud will fragment into microservices: “In 2018, technology companies are going to ditch the buzzword ‘cloud’ in favor of the next big trend in IT – ‘microservices’. This is where companies will increasingly look to scale by essentially breaking up their IT and thinking smaller and using more SDN and NFV type approaches. Enterprises should also take note fast – moving to smaller applications makes it much easier to scale and decreases risk, while increasing efficiencies.” – Craig Walker, CEO of business communication platform Dialpad

The rise of the sharing economy: “Digitization and the sharing economy will disrupt more industries. Already, retail (Amazon), automotive (Uber and Zipcar), and the server market (Google, Amazon) have been disrupted – and we have had two years without another major industry being disrupted. Given this, financial services and healthcare are ripe for disruption.” – Prakash Nagpal

The personalization of marketing: “Marketing is becoming increasingly personal, and this trend will keep going as we move into the new year. No longer will stock images, generic nurturing campaigns, or impersonal calls to action convince consumers. In order to succeed, you’ll have to provide high-value and personalized content every step of the way.” – Harrison Doan, director of analytics at Saatva.

Modern marketing tools make personalization possible: “While email marketing has traditionally been a one-to-many medium, it’s a great example of this trend being brought to life as we continue to see an increased focus on more customized messaging heading into 2018. A major catalyst behind this shift toward one-to-one has been advances in personalization technology, especially click segmentation. Personalizing email marketing is especially valuable because small businesses often have a variety of products, yet not every offering will necessarily appeal to every customer on an email list.” – Dave Charest, director of content marketing at Constant Contact, an Endurance International Group company

AI will emerge as a critical marketing tool: “In the past executives may have tinkered with AI to schedule their calendars, but 2018 will see the end of the experimental phase and the beginning of applying artificial intelligence to solve the most soul-crushing marketing problems. For example, conversational AI companies like Conversica will make it possible for PR companies to harness conversational AI for lead nurturing and finding new clients. CRM companies like Helpshift will streamline customer service.  AI however will not replace traditional media relations.  Journalists deserve a human touch that AI will not yet be able to mimic.” – Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar PR

Social advertising will become more competitive: “For paid social ads in Facebook, the 2018 landscape will continue to get far more competitive. Facebook advertising is still in its ‘Golden Age,’ but the company is growing the number of advertisers at a very rapid pace. While large companies jumped on the Facebook ad bandwagon some time ago, there is significant long-tail growth among SMBs which still have not embraced Facebook ads fully and the vast majority are not advertising there. The end result of this, Facebook will continue to accelerate the number of advertisers it has with SMBs and CPM and CPC costs will rise for all Facebook advertisers.” – Toby Danylchuk, co-founder of 39 Celsius Web Marketing

There will be growth in small business cross-channel marketing: ” Very few small businesses today do any sort of cross-channel strategic advertising. Many owners even have separate vendors for Facebook, Google, web content, web maintenance, etc. Large brands do this rather well, and I believe in 2018 we will see small businesses utilizing integrated strategies – and these small businesses will outperform their competitors.” – Bil Gaines, digital marketing director of Custom Creatives

Banking models will begin a radical shift: “Millennials want to bank wherever they want and whenever they want, which does not align with the traditional banking model. It’s predicted that digital banking will grow to more than 2 billion users by 2020As a result of this shift, the traditional brick-and-mortar banking solution will be replaced with a technology first-mindset. In essence, your wallet will be your phone.” – Dave Mitchell, president of NYMBUS

Speed is key in modern banking: “The banking channel will strive for speed. Lending, banking services, statement processing and other banking channel players are scrambling to get online and get faster. We expect the scramble to continue as the industry seeks to eliminate middle men – like brokers – and better serve their customers.” – Vernon Tirey, co-founder and CEO of LeaseQ

Mobile banking means more mobile cyberattacks: “All are experiencing a big increase in attacks on their mobile banking and transactions. Expect that to continue.  Approximately 80 percent of financial institutions’ customers are doing online banking, 50% are on mobile and that’s growing. More customers equals more opportunity for attacks.” – John Gunn, CMO of VASCO Data Security

Machine learning and Blockchain will grow more prominent: “Two of the most interesting IoT developments to emerge in 2017, with the most potential for innovation, were blockchain and machine learning. They likely won’t go straight to market in the new year – we’ll likely see more proofs of concept instead – but, we have seen some fascinating PoCs already.” – Mike Bell, EVP IoT & Devices at Canonical

Machine learning will become more responsive in customer service: “Machine learning will play a bigger role in sales and customer support in 2018. Lower costs and increased availability of speech analytics tools mean more businesses will record and monitor calls within their contact centers. Instead of simply guiding callers through prompts, speech analytics will help to categorize them and analyze responses in terms of what you say and how you say it. Insights like these will be used to guide agents, in real time, to get the best results from each interaction.” – Chad Hart, head of strategic products at Voxbone.

AI implementation will help business capitalize on large troves of data: “Although discussions on the topic of data may not be new, until now most business have been focused on forming teams and building data pipelines, but the data itself has not produced much disruption. With the right people and tools in place, companies can now focus on using data to drive growth. Companies will look to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) to gain a competitive edge.” – Jennifer Shin, founder and chief data scientist of 8 Path Solutions

IoT cyberattacks will become more common: “There will be an increase of random IoT hacks and attacks because the tools are easy to find and use, and also because of all the unsecured IoT devices – Gartner says there are 8 billion connected things in 2017 and expects 20 billion connected devices by 2020. Anyone can go onto the dark web and start using available malware code, not to mention the readily available services such as hacking, malware- and ransomware-as-a-service, which can all be hired for next to nothing. It’s very easy these days for someone with little knowledge to launch a sophisticated attack, and there’s clear financial incentive – in the last three years, business email compromise alone made $5.3 billion.” – Christian Vezine, CISO at VASCO Data Security

IoT devices will become more secure: “Expect to see at least 2 or 3 large-scale, botnet-style attacks on IoT-related hardware in 2018. To remedy this, the industrial space may pick up a trend from the consumer space, where device updates are downloaded automatically, and give the user little say in the process.” – Mike Bell

Industry will employ more low power wide area networking (LPWAN): “LPWAN technology can be unwired and run for a long time, with minimal power consumption. Its potential applications include heartbeat communications and predictive maintenance for industrial equipment like basement boilers, which can be otherwise difficult to reach … LPWAN provides better penetration and range in hard-to-reach areas, which opens the door for groundbreaking new industrial equipment use cases.” – Mike Bell

The evolution of the workplace: “The physical workspace as we know it today is going to significantly change next year as businesses start to get smart about how they use space to drive productivity and adapt to new employee behaviors and tech tools. Large companies will also look to reduce their real estate commitments and move more to flex desk options as more employees work away from the office, while being connected to it by making use of better tools that help them do their work more effectively.” – Craig Walker

Expect the number of remote workers to continue increasing: “Only 32 percent of employees spent all their time working in, or at their office this year, The flexibility to work remotely has evolved beyond an occasional perk, with 43 percent of employees saying it’s a must-have.” – Staples Business Advantage’s Annual Workplace Survey

Workplaces will unveil bolstered anti-harassment policies: “With such a magnifying glass being put on men’s behavior in the workplace in the latter half of 2017, next year is going to see a lot of anti-sexual harassment training in workplaces, as well as anti-harassment policies being beefed up.” – Rob Swystun, business communication specialist

20 Small Business Trends and Predictions for 2018

Here’s What 18 Top Executives Say Will Happen in 2018

Here’s What 18 Top Executives Say Will Happen in 2018
First off, artificial intelligence is just going to keep getting bigger.

Here’s What 18 Top Executives Say Will Happen in 2018

First off, artificial intelligence is just going to keep getting bigger.

Predicting the future is hardly a precise science, but it’s possible to identify macro trendsby paying close attention to what’s happening in an industry. Here’s what a handful of entrepreneurs, founders and  executives see coming in 2018.

1. 2018 will be the year of the voice user interface (VUI).

“It’s been three years since Alexa first showed up in our living rooms. When Amazon launched the first Echo, it seemed like a curious product to many. But the sales growth of Amazon’s Alexa-powered product family has been meteoric in the past year. Not to mention that Google Home joined the party, and soon to be followed by the Apple HomePod. But that’s just the beginning. Amazon is now licensing Alexa and new devices–including thermostats, home lighting systems, remote controls, automobiles and more–which now have the super smart assistant built in. As consumers, we’re becoming increasingly more comfortable and reliant upon using voice to talk with our phones, cars and smart home accessories. While I’m not about to say that the graphical user interface of the touchscreen is dying, there’s little question that in 2018 voice will become a primary interface to the digital world. And with it, professionals and firms will develop specialized expertise for voice interface design and voice app development, as the VUI coexists with the GUI.”

–Adam Fingerman, cofounder of ArcTouch, a mobile app design and development consulting company

2. Major retailers will close stores nationwide to focus capital on automating their eCommerce supply chain and fend off Amazon.

“Major retailers have long ignored the importance of their supply chain and consumers are no longer willing to accept an inefficient buying process. Fewer locations to service is the only the first step for retailers needing to gain a competitive edge. The second is better control over the supply chain and less outsourcing. Large retailers will recognize this deficiency in 2018 and bring logistics in-house as a key differentiator.”

–Matthew Tillman, founder and CEO of Haven, a logistics technology company enabling the global commodity trade

3. Alternative payment acceptance will continue to grow.

“The introduction of new payment methods is constant. It’s important to stay nimble and adapt to new technologies, such as mobile payment applications, as they emerge. Apple Pay is reporting more than one million new users each week. Popular cloud-based wallets such as WeChat Pay and Alipay are breaking down borders and disrupting the payments ecosystem. User adoption will continue to increase and payment providers and businesses need to prepare to accept a growing number of alternative payments (including wearable smart devices).”

–Joe Mach, president of Verifone North America

4. MySpace could make a comeback.

“I think we could see an uptick in legacy/analog media (books, magazines, etc.) and greater attention being paid to in real life (IRL) experiences, events, and connection with others. Many people have been on Facebook for 10 years, and I think they are starved for more human experience and connection. I would also not be surprised if we saw the relaunch of some platforms such as MySpace. The Koch acquisition of Time comes with MySpace. MySpace might be the 2018 surprise that no one expects.”

Jennifer Grygiel, assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University’s SI Newhouse School of Public Communications

5. The Internet of Things security arms race will amplify.

“We’ve seen malware attacks on IoT devices in recent years, proving the importance of identity management and verified authentication credentials. The newest botnet called Reaper will play a big role in the Internet of Things security arms race as it works to exploit individual device vulnerabilities. As identities become more strongly authenticated in 2018, Reaper-style attacks of IoT devices will increase.”

Eve Maler, VP of innovation and emerging technology for ForgeRock, a platform provider of digital identity management solutions

6. China will continue to play an even more important role in the global ecommerce and payments ecosystem.

“The Chinese government is focused on increasing openness and innovation and is committed to playing a leading role in our increasingly global, digital, interconnected world.  With the middle class in China growing at incredible speeds and more engineers graduating in China every year than in the entire western world combined, I expect in 2018 to see the continued evolution of China from a nation of strong producers, to a thriving market of strong consumers and innovators. Businesses from all over the world will accelerate their efforts to get their products and services into the Chinese market and businesses from China will play increasingly prominent roles globally.”

–Scott Galit, CEO of Payoneer, a financial services company that provides online money transfer and digital payment services

7. Supply chains will get smarter.

“The lines between the retailer and supplier will begin to blur in 2018. As retailers and brands continue to share geographical inventory data across distributed commerce networks, consumers will benefit by receiving faster and cheaper shipments, regardless of where they make their purchase. In essence, all parties benefit when the traditional retailer/supplier relationship evolves in support of better consumer experiences.”

–Frank Poore, CEO of CommerceHub, a company which helps retailers and brands grow online product assortments, promote and sell on channels and fulfil and deliver orders

8. The demand for real-life visual content will continue to increase.

“While storytelling remains fundamentally about aspiration, what we aspire to has transformed considerably over the last few years and this will be reflected in the media landscape. With our increasingly connected urban world consumers and creatives alike will begin tossing out the old romantic jet-set and beautiful ideal, and instead demand content that is a more authentic reflection of our lives.”

–TJ Leonard, CEO of Storyblocks, a stock video, images and audio provider

9. Consumers will hold healthcare brands accountable for the best in customer experiences.

“Legacy players will need to continue to invest in and improve the customer experience to meet their customer’s growing expectations for simple, transparent and on-demand experiences. All healthcare organizations need to re-evaluate current systems and processes to ensure they can deliver on the customer of the future’s rising expectations. As industry consolidation accelerates, healthcare companies need to pay careful attention to how they bring brands together in ways that create a more powerful brand experience for customers instead of more confusion.  There is a big opportunity for healthcare brands to stand for more than healthcare provision but actual health and wellness in a more holistic sense and the happiness they engender.”

–Rick Wise, CEO of Lippincott, a global creative consultancy

10. The new tax plan will provide an opportunity for brands to show their employees and customers they care.

“I think the most wonderful and timely opportunity exists for brands and marketers to showcase how the new tax plan and financial incentives will be passed on to their employees and customers. Like AT&T and Comcast and Wells Fargo among others announced how they plan on reinvesting savings in their companies, raising minimum wages and passing along bonus to employees. Next step is to showcase lower pricing and savings to customers. This type of messaging will build brand loyalty and further increase revenues.”

–Sandy Rubinstein, CEO of DXagency, a digital marketing and advertising firm

11. The CMO will finally become the most important c-level after the CEO.

“In today’s market, the difference between buying your shoes, or your hoodie, or your computer, or your car, or anything really, from this company versus another company is marketing.  The era of buying advertising without data has been dying for years.  In 2018, it will finally be dead.  And CMOs are taking action.  They are putting data to work and their ad dollars are getting them more bang for their buck than ever before.  Companies that don’t evolve with the data-driven digital era will suffer a lot in 2018.  However, those companies with data-driven CMOs at the helm are taking share from the companies that aren’t evolving.”

–Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk, a technology company that empowers buyers of advertising through data-driven decisioning

12. Drones will lower O&M costs.

“Global demand for drones in the energy industry is expected to reach a cumulative market value of $4.47 billion between 2017 and 2025. In the past year alone, drones have evolved from consumer gadget to delivery bot, and now industrial tool. Using airborne video inspections via GPS, radar and infrared camera, drones are able to remotely monitor long stretches of transmission lines and even directly remove any debris causing power outages. In 2018, utilities will adopt drones as key assets in the electricity network that connect equipment maintenance apps like Asset Performance Management with the field service workers and drones that complete suggested maintenance. Using AI-enabled analysis, drones will also provide utilities with unprecedented data to streamline workflows, solve problems, and provide added value to customers while relaying valuable information to power producers that improve operations, reduce costs and inform preemptive measures.”

–Steve Martin, CDO of GE Power 


13. AI and the IIoT will propel the digital transformation of the power industry.

“Asset-intensive industries, such as the electricity industry, are just at the beginning of deriving value from emerging technologies such as the Industrial Internet or AI, despite the heavy output of machine data. Data coming off of electricity assets will result in terabytes of information that AI can analyze to recognize patterns in machine behavior and make changes based on desired outcomes. In 2018, we predict the continued growth, adoption and collaboration of the IIoT, AI and Digital Twins across the industrial settings will automate basic maintenance processes. This collaboration, creating a human/machine approach to digitizing operations, will free up human capital to focus on high priority operations issues, reducing operations and maintenance budgets, which currently dominate cost profiles across the power industry.”

–Peter Kirk, former CEO of NeuCo and now executive, business operations, for GE Power Digital

14. Big and small companies will invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

“This technology will have a major impact on the healthcare industry in several ways.  For example,  AI will start to help diagnose patients, learn from large medical data sets, and help us understand more about medicine at a deeper level. In the near-term future, AI might be able to read CT Scans and X-Rays better than a radiologist, reducing the cost of creating a radiology report. AI may help patients determine what specialist to go to based on a series of questions they answer. In addition, physicians build out really large patient files over time, and AI can look and see patient symptoms and relate it back to something that happened a long time ago –  perhaps something that was dormant and would be hard to find in a large file.  And with medical billing, using AI might make claims adjudication more streamlined.”

–Daniel Kivatinos, cofounder and COO of drchrono, a company that built the first iPad EHR and is enabling the medical practice of the future

15. More companies will integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into IoT networks.

“We’ve already started to see AI techniques–such as with bots and algorithms–that push the boundaries toward unsupervised learning, auto-generated training and reinforcement learning within edge devices. In IoT environments, these automated bots and algorithms are enabling edge devices to get smarter and learn by themselves. As a result, we’ll see IT and OT systems moving closer together. This convergence, in time, will help organizations move up the IoT maturity model.”

–Brad Surak, chief product and strategy officer of Hitachi Vantara, a provider of internet of things, cloud, application, big data and analytics solutions

16. Houses will start selling themselves.

“Technology is making it easier than ever before to buy and sell homes and get approved for mortgages. The industry is streamlining and transforming the home buying and selling process just like searching for and buying cars online changed the car industry. Escalating prices of housing and limited inventory of new construction will only help consumers adopt new technologies like virtual staging and buyer-driven insights. The real estate industry moved away from the traditional commission model in 2017, so we’ll continue to see changes in real estate transactions for both buyers and sellers. We’re currently at a tipping point in the industry.”

–Amit Haller, founder and CEO of Reali, an interactive, app-enabled real estate company

17. Mobile technology will provide more utility for consumers who are on the move.

“For the last decade, we’ve seen significant growth in the mobile space, but the trajectory to date has been largely the transfer of existing technology, often offering surface-level utilizations like social networking to mobile. We’re now seeing a shift where tech companies are using mobility at its core to provide more intrinsic daily value to consumers as they are on the move. Mobile technology will improve lives in more fundamental ways extending beyond utilities like selfie shots and social networks. We see it already with mobile apps like Uber and Lyft and we’ll see it unfold in other industries like safety and security.”

–Chris Hulls, cofounder and CEO of Life360, a location and driving safety service for families

18. Blockchain will grow in the travel industry.

“We are able to imagine and develop an entirely new way of distributing and consuming travel by combining blockchain-powered smart contracts with AI chatbot technologies. Blockchain has arrived on the scene in 2017. We’re already seeing the first Airbnb competitors such as CryptoCribs, but the travel industry is still in the very early stages of connecting travel inventory to this distribution platform. It will be another one to two years before the technology is widely used in a way that we see meaningful booking volumes from blockchain as a channel.”

–Johnny Thorsen, VP of travel strategy and partnerships at Mezi, an artificial intelligence-powered personal travel assistant  

Here’s What 18 Top Executives Say Will Happen in 2018

Corporate sustainability must give way to corporate responsibility

Corporate sustainability must give way to corporate responsibility

Today we consume more than twice as much as our relatives did only 50 years ago. In the US, this means generating upwards of 500 billion pounds of garbage every year that’s trucked to one of our 10,000 landfills. This accelerated consumption is exhausting global ecosystems, depleting 30% of global resources and nearly 60% of animal populations since the 1970s.


These sobering numbers are fueling a consumer revolution. People are shifting their consumption habits, with leaders like Lauren Singer helping others to live a lifestyle of zero waste – two years of Lauren’s trash fits inside a single mason jar.

As efforts like these gain steam, a growing segment of conscious consumers are successfully demanding a shift in the marketplace, with 88% of millennials believing businesses have the power to create positive social change. But 70% don’t think businesses are doing enough, and they’re right.

It’s tough to find a business without some form of sustainability messaging emblazoned on their platforms or packaging. And while that’s great to some degree, according to the EPA, more than 75% of greenhouse gas emissions from many US industry sectors still originates from our supply chains. So just how authentic is all of that sustainability messaging, and how much of it is simply pandering to the modern consumer?

Sustainability isn’t just marketing, it’s a responsibility for all businesses to emulate those like Ray Anderson by evaluating their supply chains with clear eyes, making the right choices for our planet and courageously acting on those choices with urgency.

This process has never been easier from a business perspective. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, 40% of participating members report meaningful cost reductions after teaming with suppliers to decrease their environmental impact, while more than 1/3 have unlocked new revenue streams.

When Siemens announced a radical commitment of more than $100 million to lowering their carbon emissions, former CEO Eric Spiegel used a powerful word to describe the project – calling it an investment. Siemens would invest in the latest technologies, retrofitting factories, purchasing new efficient machinery and transitioning all operations to renewable power by 2020. This investment would not only make the world a better place, but would return more than $20 million each year – paying for itself in fewer than six years.

Patagonia is perhaps the most emblematic of all north star brands I personally follow in terms of their tireless commitment to making the world a better place. They deliberately use the word responsibility when discussing the incredible work they’re doing to ensure their suppliers embody their values.

When Patagonia – led by visionary CEO Rose Marcario, who believes “we live in an interconnected world” that our actions affect “profoundly” – identifies aspects of their supply chain that aren’t aligned with their organizational values, they do their best to fix the problem instead of simply moving on to another vendor. A practice all businesses should consider as it raises standards across the globe while driving value for customers. Patagonia is poised to break the $1b annual revenue mark this year.

Levi’s is another iconic brand pushing the boundaries of environmental stewardship by sharing learnings with competitors. When Levi’s discovered a method to reduce the water used in garment finishing processes by 96%, saving over 1 billion gallons of water since 2011, the company not only open sourced their innovation but provided their entire staff with water conservation training.

Levi’s has since announced their intention to use 100% sustainable cotton and achieve zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020. I’m sure the open source reports following the successful realization of those two goals will not only be fascinating reads, but will help competitors transition to more responsible practices too.

As our population continues to grow, it’s incumbent on us all to make adjustments for a more balanced future. Businesses in particular can no longer be sustainable in name only, they must rise and meet the responsibility our times demand.

Corporate sustainability must give way to corporate responsibility

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

In technology, huge changes happen every month. Here are 20 innovators that you’ll want to keep your eye on.

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

In technology, huge changes happen every month. Here are 20 innovators that you’ll want to keep your eye on.

Machine learning, AI, predictive analytics, and other flourishing technologies are remaking the business landscape today. A brave new world is upon us, where every industry from agriculture to healthcare and commerce to advertising is innovating exponentially. The leaders and visionaries ushering in this exciting new era are the entrepreneurs behind the brilliant platforms being developed. Below are 20 innovative technology companies transforming their industries and moving the needle forward for all of us.

Argus Cybersecurity

A leader in a rapidly expanding market, Argus is a cybersecurity firm focused on cars. Just five years ago, the need for a company like Argus would have been marginal. But since the company’s founding in 2013, so many new cars have hit the road with “connected” features that car-hacking has become a pressing concern. When self-driving vehicles eventually make their way to consumers, car cybersecurity will take on even greater urgency. Based in Tel Aviv with offices in the U.S., Germany, and Japan, Argus works with car manufacturers and their suppliers. The company’s staff includes longtime cybersecurity experts as well as auto industry veterans who have helped to make Argus a go-to shop for cybersecurity on wheels.


The dilemma for many e-tailers today is whether to focus on building their own online stores or dedicate themselves to selling through Amazon. BigCommerce allows them to do both with little incremental gain in cost and labor. BigCommerce builds and hosts online stores and provides the software to manage them. From the BigCommerce dashboard, retailers can manage listings, inventory, and payments in their own store as well as simultaneous listings with Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. The Austin-based company offers differentiated products–and pricing plans–for upstarts and high-volume brands, including Camelbak and Martha Stewart. Founded in 2009, the company has raised $155million from investors such as General Catalyst and American Express Ventures.


ControlUp allows a company to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot its entire IT infrastructure from a single dashboard. In a sense, it is like having a whole IT staff carrying out maintenance, providing early warning signs, and sharing insights around the clock–which frees up actual personnel to do other work that produces value. With a base of 500 enterprise customers, ControlUp has collected valuable data of its own. It feeds all of the data it collects back into algorithms that help detect its customers’ IT problems early, identify where costs can be cut and share other insights. In many cases, ControlUp can even intervene automatically to fix bugs. When it can’t, it flags problems for a company’s staff. The company raised $10 million in March.


dLocal is a platform that enables e-commerce companies and marketplaces to sell to consumers in emerging markets. The San Francisco-headquartered startup, founded last year, handles the merchant processing, backend and compliance for online payments from countries that Western companies find traditionally difficult to sell to, for a variety of reasons. These include fraud, regulation, tax complexity and others. By partnering with dLocal, a company can gain access to sell its products and services in dozens of markets – including Latin America, China and India – without assuming the country-by-country localization costs and fraud risks. With the ever-increasing trend towards globalization, dLocal seems to have picked the right niche at the right moment.


In the arms race between cybersecurity experts and hackers, the good guys often seem to be a step behind. The problem is that by the time they have developed tools to detect and repel the latest malware, hackers have developed something new. Exabeam, a cybersecurity firm in San Mateo, CA, has created an alternative approach. Rather than looking for hacking tools, Exabeam’s technology monitors human behavior on a company’s networks. Relying on big data analytics, it can identify suspicious activity and notify security teams. This user-behavior approach is particularly useful for protecting against insider threats–attempts at hacking or sabotage from employees or contractors who have regular access to a network. In a worst case scenario, Exabeam’s software can also be deployed as a forensics tool to analyze an attack that has already occurred.


What if online shopping became an experience where peer reviews and ratings from across the web were curated and accessible next to any product on any retailer’s site? Feelter has made this a reality by creating a platform that enables an e-tailer to automatically aggregate consumer feedback from review sites and social networks and present the data in a simple screen layover next to every product on its site. The benefit? Bring wisdom and truth from the crowd right to each product on your site, in order to increase consumer confidence and conversions (or alert you to problematic products and what can be improved). The Tel Aviv startup has raised $4 million in funding and won GMIC’s global startup competition last year.


A standout in real estate technology, Floored created a new product category in a staid industry. Founded as a 3D modeling software firm in 2012, Floored “backed into real estate,” in the words of its founder David Eisenberg. While considering the process of leasing commercial real estate, he sensed an opportunity. Potential tenants would walk through empty spaces and compare metrics like square footage, while never getting a clear sense of how an office would look until they hired architects. He wondered how much more effective brokers could be in closing deals if they could show prospective tenants something more compelling. Today, Floored creates immersive, 3D models of offices that brokers can share during the leasing process. Tenants get the opportunity to digitally “walk through” a furnished, fully designed office before making a decision. In January, CBRE, one of the world’s biggest real estate companies, bought Floored–and hired its management team–for an undisclosed sum


Kaltura has become a leader in delivering video online. If you’ve ever watched a video on the web, you’ve probably used Kaltura’s technology without knowing it. Part of the reason Kaltura has become widespread–if, largely, invisible–is its relentless development of new video technologies. Today, the company’s products include everything from its bread-and-butter online video platform for organizations to a full OTT offering for media companies. Kaltura’s apps also support integration with almost any third-party software its customers might want to use, ranging from Moodle and Sakai to IBM Connections and Drupal. Rumored to be worth more than $1 billion, the New York-based, Israel-founded company has moved firmly out of startup territory even if it remains a nimble innovator.

Movable Ink

Movable Ink has created a platform for highly customizable marketing emails. Movable Ink refers to its emails as “containers” for content because they can be filled with just about anything–text, video, account information–at any time. In fact, the content of the email isn’t even determined until a recipient clicks to open it. At that moment, Movable Ink’s software accounts for where the recipient is, what time it is, and what device she is using, among other variables. Then it fills the “container” with the content it predicts is most likely to grab her attention. The company’s case studies boast impressive results, like the doubling of click-through rates. The New York-based startup’s client list currently boasts a diverse set of businesses including The New York Times, Delta, and McDonald’s.


Tomas Gorny has been on a mission to improve business communication for over a decade. After the turn-of-the-century, enterprise phone systems were still unaffordable, unreliable and hard to use. Gorny formed Nextiva to create a user-friendly and reliable phone system for SMBs and enterprises at an affordable price. A decade later, Arizona-based Nextiva has become a leading VoIP provider with 150,000 business customers, 800 employees and $125 million in annual revenue. But Gorny’s vision of improving how businesses communicate doesn’t stop there. The company is rolling out a brand-new platform, NextOS, which will combine every aspect of the business communication ecosystem – including phone, chat, CRM, surveys and others – into a cohesive customer sentiment analysis tool that helps businesses better understand and cater to each individual user. NextOS will be released at the company’s upcoming annual conference, NextCon, which is aptly focused on how businesses can improve their customer experience.


Imagine an autonomous car’s hardware systems freezing, malfunctioning or breaking down in the middle of a drive. Or picture your smartphone catching fire during a flight. Well, the latter doesn’t need to be conceptualized since it already happened with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. In our world of rapidly accelerating innovation and transition towards electronic systems, there are tremendous risks and liabilities if hardware quality isn’t maximized and defects minimized. Enter OptimalPlus, an Israel-based manufacturing analytics platform that uses big data to reduce the number of defective parts manufactured in electronics and semiconductors. The awesome thing about this platform is that it doesn’t just detect and alert problems, it also diagnoses what needs to be done to fix them, and impressively, actively implements the necessary solutions without human intervention. In a world where everything is connected and technological, ensuring the integrity of systems is more important than ever – which is why OptimalPlus seems to have struck gold.


Dublin-based Pulsate was founded in 2013 to help brick-and-mortar businesses manage iBeacons. iBeacons were then a newly introduced technology, developed by Apple, that allowed businesses to transmit information to nearby consumers using Bluetooth. For example, iBeacons allow retailers to share deals or pull up loyalty programs in proprietary apps. Since its founding, Pulsate has evolved into a more comprehensive mobile retail platform. In addition to iBeacon support, it now embeds chat features and e-commerce functions in its customers’ mobile apps. Current customers include Paypal, Telepizza, and Coors Light. The venture-backed startup has raised a bit less than $3 million in two funding rounds.


Rain, a small L.A.-based startup, seems to have cracked the code for hyperlocal mobile advertising. The key is serving ads to users in apps they use frequently and while on the move–like Waze and Instagram. Rain’s clients–including chains like McDonald’s and CVS–use Rain to offer potential customers deals when they are just a few blocks away from a retail location. (In Waze, users can simply tap a button that says “Drive There” to take advantage of a deal.) If a user interacts with an ad, but doesn’t act on it, Rain can “re-market” to the same user by following him through other apps and the mobile web. On the backend, Rain offers detailed analytics so advertisers can track engagement and conversion rates–leaving no question about ROI.


Seattle-based Socrata is a leader in creating technology platforms for government. In partnership with local, state, and federal government agencies, Socrata turns public government records into tools. In Dallas and Baltimore, police departments have partnered with Socrata to monitor and report data on violent encounters between officers and the public. In Douglas County, Kansas, Socrata has digitized the annual budget. In Massachusetts, it has analyzed and published state financial information so that agencies and the public can more easily draw insights from it. At agencies throughout the country, Socrata has provided or created tools to help governments track performance of public initiatives. Founded in 2007 with venture capital backing, Socrata has raised $55 million of equity investments to date.


In our ever-increasing mobile driven world, applications and companies at large have opportunities to reach, penetrate and monetize markets like never before. But with the endless amount of users, interactions and data available, who can make sense of it all? New York-based StartApp is an insights driven mobile company that empowers app developers, social companies and other types of businesses to understand their users, better connect and engage with them, as well as improve monetization. The company started as a mobile ad network and collected so much data across so many devices that it began to leverage the insights it had gained by selling them to businesses. StartApp is now a one-stop mobile powerhouse, offering its legacy ad network to monetize and reach users, an ad unit creation service, data that helps businesses better understand their users, and a content creation offering.


Boston-based Turbonomic provides a platform that predicts demand on network resources and distributes cloud computing power to meet it. It does this with what it calls an “autonomic platform” that constantly runs supply and demand simulations and has the power to auto-regulate complex cloud environments. The result is much more efficient and stable networks, which ultimately allows companies to move even more of their computing to the cloud. The company’s technology appears to be unique, which has attracted a flood of investment. Turbonomic has raised over $100 million and reportedly has been in recent talks with Cisco about a potential acquisition.


Vestmark provides a wealth management platform to professional financial advisors. Major customers include Fidelity Investment and Edward Jones. Overall, Vestmark’s software handles 1.5 million accounts with a total of $500 billion in assets. The software can handle the digital side of almost every aspect of account management, from monitoring stock trading to reporting account balances to clients. But perhaps the most valuable function is compliance. Vestmark helps its customers remain compliant with the thicket of ever-changing rules and regulations that govern their business. In an age when the political pendulum can swing quickly from regulation to deregulation and when federal rules are frequently reinterpreted, automated help with compliance is more than a convenience–it’s a business necessity. In the past year and a half alone Vestmark has raised $37 million in equity investments as it has continued to update and expand its software.


After ten years of academic investigation at the University of Maryland, the researchers behind VisiSonics brought their “3D audio” technology to market in 2012. Now it will serve as the audio that pairs with virtual reality experiences delivered through Oculus headsets. VisiSonic’s technology allows virtual reality developers to include location-specific sound in their VR games and films. The sound of footsteps, for example, can “come from” behind you; when you turn you will hear the footsteps approaching you. Remarkably, this 3D audio experience is delivered through normal stereo headphones. Recording in 3D, on the other hand, requires special hardware: a spherical microphone developed by VisiSonics that records sound and location data with “pinpoint accuracy,” the company claims. Ultimately, this kind of immersive audio will be necessary to create fully immersive VR experiences.

Zebra Medical Vision

One of the most valuable sources of health science data has usually been off-limits to researchers: clinical medical records. Zebra is aiming to change that by compiling and analyzing vast troves of records. Its objective is two-fold. First, founders Elad Benjamin, Eyal Toledano and Eyal Gura want to make their anonymized, indexed database of clinical records available to scientists as an open research tool. Second, they are using machine learning analysis of the records to develop new diagnostic tools. So far Zebra has released one algorithm that can detect breast cancer at an early stage and others that detect diseases of the liver and arteries. The founders say more algorithms are coming in the second half of 2017. In the long run, Zebra’s big data approach to disease detection could help doctors make earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Beyond the health benefits, early diagnosis can be financially valuable–by preventing more costly treatment of advanced diseases.


Founded by two veterans of the consumer electronics industry, Zive brings what it calls a “humanistic” and “friendly” design philosophy to software. The company’s first product, Kiwi for Gmail, converts the entire G Suite of cloud software–including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Google Docs–into native desktop apps. It enables users to access all of the functionality of the Google programs from well-designed desktop apps without ever opening a web browser. “The browser is great for content consumption,” says Eric Shashoua, Zive’s CEO, “but very limiting when it comes to content creation.”

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

Apple Disrupts Silicon Valley With Another Eye-Catcher: Its New Home

Apple’s new home in Cupertino — the centerpiece being a $5 billion, four-story, 2.8 million-square-foot ring that can be seen from space and that locals call the spaceship — is still getting some final touches, and employees have just started to trickle in. The full squadron, about 12,000 people, will arrive in several months.

Apple Disrupts Silicon Valley With Another Eye-Catcher: Its New Home

Things change when a spaceship comes to town.

Tourists stroll by, whipping out their iPhones to get a photo. New businesses move in. And real estate prices go up even more.

Apple’s new home in Cupertino — the centerpiece being a $5 billion, four-story, 2.8 million-square-foot ring that can be seen from space and that locals call the spaceship — is still getting some final touches, and employees have just started to trickle in. The full squadron, about 12,000 people, will arrive in several months.

But the development of the headquarters, a 175-acre area officially called Apple Park, has already helped transform the surrounding area.

In Sunnyvale, a town just across the street, 95 development projects are in the planning stages. The city manager, Deanna J. Santana, said she had never seen such action before. In Cupertino, a Main Street Cupertino living and dining complex opened in early 2016. This downtown enclave includes the Lofts, a 120-unit apartment community opening this fall; small shops; and numerous restaurants and cafes.

Other local businesses are also gearing up in anticipation. A Residence Inn at Main Street Cupertino, expected to open in September, has been slightly customized to meet the needs of Apple employees. Guests will have access to Macs and high-speed internet connections, said Mark Lynn, a partner with Sand Hill Hotel Management, which operates the hotel and consulted with Apple about what its employees need at a hotel.

“All the things we have, lined up with what they needed,” Mr. Lynn said. “They will represent a large part of our business.”

The Birdland neighborhood in Sunnyvale, Calif., on the other side of the road from Apple Park. Credit Laura Morton for The New York Times

Tech companies are nothing new for Cupertino. Apple has called the city home for decades, and Hewlett-Packard had a campus in Apple’s new spot, employing 9,000 people. The surrounding towns have been remade as well in the last decade, as giant tech companies have transformed Silicon Valley’s real estate into some of the most expensive in the country.

But city officials and residents say this project is like nothing they’ve seen before. It is even bringing tourists.

Onlookers snap pictures of the spaceship from the streets. TV helicopters circle above. Amateur photographers ask residents if they can stand on driveways to operate their drones, hoping to get a closer look at Apple Park.

“I just say, ‘Hey, go ahead,’” said Ron Nielsen, who lives in Birdland, a Sunnyvale neighborhood across the street from the spaceship. “Why not?”

Drone operators want that coveted aerial shot while pedestrians want to get an eyeful of the curved glass building before the headquarters become hidden by a man-made forest.

Steve Jobs Presents to the Cupertino City Council (6/7/11)
Video by Cupertino City Channel

The campus is one of the last major projects started by Steven P. Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple, who died six years ago. Just a few months before his death, he went before the Cupertino City Council and laid out his vision for a futuristic circular house of glass that would foster creativity and collaboration. Two years later, the Council unanimously approved the plans for the campus.

The main center features the spaceship ring, the Steve Jobs Theater, a 100,000-square-foot gym and a visitors center in a woodland setting with two miles of running and walking paths. An orchard, a meadow and a pond are inside the ring.

Sheri and Ron Nielsen outside their home in Sunnyvale. The front of their house faces Apple Park. Credit Laura Morton for The New York Times

The entire project shows off Apple’s obsession with details. The custom windows were made in Germany and are considered the world’s largest panels of curved glass. One pair of glass doors is 92 feet high. The finish on the underground concrete garage, said David Brandt, Cupertino’s city manager, is so shiny it is almost like glass.

“Mind-blowing, mind-blowing, mind-blowing,” the mayor, Savita Vaidhyanathan, said about her visit to the site. “I saw the underground 1,000-seat theater and the carbon-fiber roof. The roof was made in Dubai, and it was transported and assembled here. I love that it’s here and that I can brag about it.”

Many of the public views will soon be going away. Apple Park will eventually have 9,000 trees, filling in much of the big open spaces. The public will instead have access to a visitors center with a cafe, a store and rooftop observation views. 

“It will be a separate glass structure and be set in an old-growth olive tree grove,” said Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s vice president of real estate and development.

Not all of these changes have thrilled everyone. Residents of Birdland, an 877-home neighborhood, have been particularly vocal. They have complained about early-morning construction rigs that beep and rumble along major streets, unpredictable road closings, unsightly green sheeted barriers and construction potholes that result in punctured tires.

When her car was covered with construction dust, Sheri Nielsen, Mr. Nielsen’s wife, contacted Apple. The company sent carwash certificates.

Mr. Whisenhunt said the company strove to answer every complaint it received, “and if the issue is serious enough, I will personally visit to see what is going on.”


Art Maryon, a real estate agent, in the Birdland neighborhood. He said the neighborhood’s one-story ranch-style homes had been selling for $1.6 million to $1.8 million. Credit Laura Morton for The New York Times 

In the design phase, he said, Apple hosted more than 110 community gatherings for feedback. Birdland was addressed in late 2012 and early 2013 and was given information about what would be happening over the next three years of construction. Apple published community mailers five times and sent them to 26,000 households.

Homestead Road, the thoroughfare that separates Apple Park from Birdland, became its own subject of debate. Cupertino officials wanted to construct a tree-lined median to calm traffic. Apple offered to cover the costs.

But homeowners objected. Residents complained that the island would eliminate one lane, backing up the heavy traffic even more. When 20 or so neighbors approached a Sunnyvale town meeting in solidarity, the city ended up siding with the residents.

The price of property in the neighborhood has also become a source of some worry. Sunnyvale and Cupertino, like many other Silicon Valley towns, have had an extended real estate boom, as the tech industry has expanded. Prices in the area really started to rise, real estate agents and residents said, after Apple released its plans.

A three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,400-square-foot ranch-style house that cost $750,000 in 2011 has doubled in price. Since Apple said it was moving into the former Hewlett-Packard site, prices have moved up 15 to 20 percent year after year, said Art Maryon, a local real estate agent. Today, bidders usually offer 20 to 25 percent over the asking price.

Birdland is already drawing Apple employees, replacing homeowners who have cashed out to move to quieter regions. Those who remain are realizing that life will not be the same when all 12,000 of the Apple workers go in and come out on a daily basis. People in the neighborhood dread the increased traffic and expect workers to park in front of their homes since there will be fewer available spaces in the company garage.

Apple’s answers to concerned residents will continue, Mr. Whisenhunt said.

“When you tell people what is upcoming, some of the anxiety they have calms down a lot,” he said.

And yet, he acknowledged, “you don’t make everyone happy.”

Apple Disrupts Silicon Valley With Another Eye-Catcher: Its New Home

The Most Brilliant Business Ideas

Entrepreneurship is about ideas. It is the foundation of everything — an insight into how to improve something, or what consumers want, or what they don’t even know they want.

The Most Brilliant Business Ideas

Check out some of the most exciting from Entrepreneur’s ‘Brilliant Ideas’ series




Entrepreneurship is about ideas. It is the foundation of everything — an insight into how to improve something, or what consumers want, or what they don’t even know they want. Consider it: A business is an idea come to life; an entrepreneur is an ideas-driven person. And if you want to truly learn from the smartest people around you, and calibrate to their way of thinking, you have to ask, What’s their core idea?

Below are some of the most insightful ideas from Entrepreneur’s “Brilliant Ideas” series in the June issue of the magazine.

Why MailChimp’s Insane Fake Ad Campaign Paid Off

For Entrepreneurs, VC Capital Is Not Always the Best Option

What Gary Vaynerchuk Learned by Experimenting on Himself

Ellevest’s Investing Platform Knows How to Speak to Women

The Website That Is Helping Companies Find Diverse Talent

Why Women-Only Coworking Spaces Are on the Rise

Don’t Be Afraid to Embrace Boring Ideas

How the Rules of Tech Branding Helped Raden Create a Smart Suitcase

9 Science-Backed Insights on Finding Success in Your Business and Personal Life

14 Leaders Share Their Inspirational Advice on Starting a Business

Businesses Disrupting Industries With Their Brilliant Ideas — And What You Can Learn From Them


The Most Brilliant Business Ideas

World’s Largest Automakers

World’s Largest Automakers

Renault-Nissan Outranks Volkswagen, Could Pass #1 Toyota

World's Largest Automakers

The times, they are a changing: Last year, Volkswagen Group kicked perennial front-runner Toyota from the top spot. A few months later, world domination has fizzled, and Volkswagen finds itself in the number three position. Even more embarrassing for Volkswagen, come-from-behind Renault-Nissan Alliance is the second-largest global automaker, with Toyota firmly back on top.

Four months into the year, Toyota Group is up 7.8% with 3.53 million units produced so far. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is not much behind with 3.47 million units, up 7.4%. 3rd-ranking Volkswagen Group delivered 3.4 million units from January through April, and its sales are down 0.7% compared to the first four months in 2016. All of this according to data released by the respective automakers.

Nearly 200,000 units behind Toyota, for Volkswagen to regain the lead once this year is over would need a miracle — or a catastrophe for the OEMs in front. Surprisingly, Toyota is not so safe at all from being surpassed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. As the table shows, the two groups are separated only by a slim rounding error, and both are good for some 10.5 million by the end of the year.

World’s Largest Automakers

The 6 Most Profitable Industries of 2017

The 6 Most Profitable Industries of 2017

Most Profitable Industries

If you’re looking to start a new company, you might as well go where the money is! Here are six sectors that research firm IBISWorld says will keep savvy entrepreneurs firmly in the black.

1. Commercial Leasing

Modern business hall lifts

If you haven’t quite grown into your new office space, consider leasing out some of it. More than three-quarters of companies in the commercial leasing space have five or fewer employees. IBISWorld says as of 2016, industry profits averaged 52.7 percent.

2. Emergency Vet Services

Veterinary doctor using stethoscope for kitten

Regulatory changes allowing veterinarians to practice across state lines, as well as the increasing popularity of pet insurance, have combined to make emergency veterinary services an attractive field. Average profitability: 29 percent.

3. Translation Services

Traslation services

Globalization has increased demand for business translation services. At the low end, there are few barriers to entry, though the industry is starting to require postgraduate certifications in multiple languages for advanced translations. Average profit margin: 26.2 percent.

 4. Snowplowing Services

Plowing Snow with Blade Mounted on an ATV

Economic growth has been good for snowplowing– new businesses and storefronts mean more parking lots and walkways that need to be cleared. IBISWorld says snowplowing companies have average profit margins of just over 25 percent.

5. Solar Power


Decreasing equipment costs and state mandates for renewable energy have made the outlook for solar energy quite positive, at least for the next five years. IBISWorld estimates average profits of 30 percent in this industry.

6. Tugboat and Shipping Navigation

Tugboat towing container ship

Increased globalization means more work ensuring the safe passage of ships in and out of harbors. This industry includes docking and piloting of marine vessels, as well as marine salvage. Average profits ring in at 23.3 percent.


The 6 Most Profitable Industries of 2017

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