Seven trends set to dominate start-ups in 2015

Richard Branson’s prediction that 2014 would be the year of the entrepreneur couldn’t have been more accurate; it was a milestone year for new start-ups. But what lies in store for them and for the countless new businesses being prepared for launch in 2015?

Richard Branson’s prediction that 2014 would be the year of the entrepreneur couldn’t have been more accurate; it was a milestone year for new start-ups. But what lies in store for them and for the countless new businesses being prepared for launch in 2015?

You are reading an article from The class of 2015, to read more about this you can visit the series homepage.

What will be the key trends to follow, innovations to watch, and red tape to tangle with?

The mobile revolution

One trend being watched with interest is the mobile revolution as it continues to shake up the world of business and e-commerce. What started with music and book selling, before migrating to newspapers and magazines, is now disrupting a whole range of business sectors, from taxis services and retail, to fast food and financial services.

Money is pouring into technology and there are so many hot new start-ups with the word ‘disruption’ on their lips, says Chris Barling, co-founder of tech start-up Powered Now. "The big question is how are the mobiles; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram etc., creating new opportunities?" he says. “These are all young companies and everything they are doing is still changing very rapidly. This may not always be immediately apparent, but just go on public transport and observe anyone under 25 using mobile to get a glimpse of what the future holds."

The rise of fintech start-ups

Technology is also influencing the finance sector, and as a result, many are predicting a strong 2015 for fintech start-ups.

"Improvements in technology are putting algorithmic trading solutions in the hands of online retail traders," says Michael Greenberg, founder and CEO of foreign exchange news and research site Forex Magnate. 

"At the same innovations in the banking and money transfer solutions are bringing improvements in cross-border payments based on bitcoin technology and cost efficient peer-to-peer banking and lending."

New funding models

A maturing of the crowd-funding sector, with some consolidation, and the involvement of some of the larger institutions looks likely, along with the emergence of more online funding start-ups. In terms of regulation in this area, a lack of which has stifled innovation and growth, 2015 could see the US open its doors to equity crowd funding, and the emergence of hundreds of new platforms globalising the marketplace.

How this will impact on start-ups remains to be seen. Certainly more will get the funding they need, but will 400-plus silent shareholders be as welcome?

"In seven years we've seen a lot of individuals looking to build their businesses, and we know how important it is for start-ups to find angel investors who can provide industry knowledge, experience and contacts, as well as the money," notes Morrow. "With the growth of crowd funding and lending platforms, even more start-ups will turn towards alternative finance providers in order to raise funding in 2015."

Challenging new VAT regulations 

Some new legislation has received a less enthusiastic reception. New EU VAT regulations, which came into force on January 1st, could present significant challenges for start-ups selling digital content and e-services. 

Under the new tax regime, any small business selling digital content and e-services will need to become VAT registered, even if their turnover is below the usual £81,000 VAT registration threshold.

"A business will now have to charge the VAT rate of each customer's country rather than the seller’s country, and then account for and pay the VAT collected to the relevant EU member state," explained Simon Horton of e-commerce plugin supplier, ShopIntegrator.

"I believe that this increased tax accounting workload will raise the barrier of entry for people willing to start-up a small micro business selling digital content and e-services."

A digital marketing revolution

Changes in the way that start-ups market themselves to win new business are also on the cards. Content marketing has been widely adopted by the sector, however this particular bubble could well explode in 2015 due to high volumes of average quality content. Inspired by the likes of Airbnb and Uber, entrepreneurs this could take marketing innovation and creativity to a new level.

Oren Greenberg, founder of digital marketing agency Kurve, says: "Entrepreneurs will continue to migrate digitally with online tools becoming simpler and more flexible for the varied fringe user cases for different businesses."

Freelancers as a political force

With a General Election looming, on the back of a successful year for entrepreneurs, this could be the year that the nations’ freelancers and self-employed become a political force to be reckoned with.

"There are so many sole traders in the UK now who make up a colossal voting bloc," says Darren Fell, founder of Crunch Accounting. "If a political party can capture their attention with meaningful and achievable manifesto promises, the self-employed vote could very well win them the election."

One touch payments

John Collison, co-founder of payments start-up Stripe is predicting huge growth in one touch mobile payments in 2015, referencing the market scale and security provided by Apple Pay as key to making mobile payments a mainstream reality. This in turn will drive growth in social commerce.

He says: "Over the last decade we’ve seen social companies like Facebook and Twitter evolve their business model, starting as ‘freemium’, shifting to advertising, and now exploring social commerce models by trialling ‘buy’ buttons that allow people to discover and buy products from within the platform.

"We expect these trials to broaden in 2015, giving retailers a new channel to engage with potential customers and social companies a new potential source of revenue."

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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