As predictions go about what our future might look like, historically — we have often been wrong. By now, some thought we’d have jet-packs. Others thought that humans would be able to fly. Or that we’d have apartments on the Moon.
Currently, some imagine that in our future, we text by simply thinking about what we’d like to say. Fresh organs are created from stem cells. We 3-D print our way to in-home production (i.e. need a new coffee mug? Just make one). And a bevy of other futuristic hopes and dreams. Perhaps we are getting better at predicting stuff, or at making our tech visions come true.
By 2015, alongside technology’s development forward, the world will become a more complicated place. The world becomes hotter: global, drastic, and extreme weather trends continue. The world’s population swells, reaching 7 billion. (By 2050, it is estimated that the population will exceed an unprecedented 9 billion).
In our present 2014, it’s likely that the United States will still be climbing out of economic shaky ground. Job creation and economic growth will still be top of mind for most of the nation.
So to recap: the globe gets more complicated, the nation continues to recover, and in L.A.? There will be entrepreneurial growth.
Where L.A. Tech Is Now
Entrepreneurs will continue to try new things and guess at market needs. L.A. tech sectors include: Video, games, mobile, e-commerce, social media, cleantech and biotech, financial tech, and some enterprise and cloud solutions.
Online video will continue to get bigger. No where else in the nation is innovation in video content happening, as it is in Los Angeles.
Mobile entertainment could also be a sector that makes L.A. stand out. As games are already a large sector in town, and as mobile (including apps, new smart phones, new tablets, and second screen experiences) is considered to be the future of the Internet — what could be done with mobile entertainment (even beyond just games) for all ages is a big opportunity.
In 2011, many accelerators and incubators got their start in L.A.. In 2012, it was the first year the tech community came together and recognized itself. In 2013, the tech community was in a building phase. In 2014, with any hope, there will be more growth (i.e. several startups gain global traction) and more capital gain for several companies.
What Is Still Needed
More Capital. Venture capital funds in Los Angeles are doing a great job of advising and helping entrepreneurs. But there are not that many of them, compared to Silicon Valley and to New York. Many startups still have a hard time raising money and often bring in capital from other areas of the nation. It would be great to see more funds in Los Angeles in 2014 and 2015.
Big Foundational Companies. Or A Few. Los Angeles needs a new hit. Big foundational companies that can last for several years, employ a good deal of people, and create the ripple effect everyone hopes for — several employees eventually leave the company to start new entrepreneurial ventures themselves. At present, everyone is still speculating what and who the big hits will be.
Partnerships and Collaborations. There are likely a lot of places where individual startups could (or in some cases — should) partner with other startups. Sometimes one big company becomes superior to several similar ones competing against one another.
The Opportunities: Solving Real Problems
Lots of times, people say that the opportunities lie in the problems. And to a large degree, that’s true.
As our world becomes more complicated and is never short of real problems — in health, in our environment, in education — it would be great to see more startups in Los Angeles target some of these larger problems.
According the Laurence C. Smith, author of “The World in 2050” — it’s not how many people live on Earth, but rather how we live that will ultimately determine our collective future.
There’s a big world of grand possibility. Los Angeles could play no small part in that — so long as the startup focus remains global, scalable, targeted at creating real commerce, and there’s a concerted effort to solve problems.
As for entrepreneurship, it’s not necessarily about how much money you can make as fast as possible (though that’s nice), but what could actually leave a lasting impact.
Not everyone is in entrepreneurship for the long game. But often, the most interesting entrepreneurs are invested in making something foundational and building companies that change how we live. Or look to offer new alternatives to our current thinking. Or open new pathways of communication that we’ve never experienced before. Or save us from injury, disease, or harm.
For 2014, one big wish is that Los Angeles entrepreneurs surprise us with things we didn’t even know were possible.
Note: Some visual examples of where we could be headed can be seen in the following videos, wherein various companies and analysts imagine what 2020 and 2050 could look like: