Number crunching these entrepreneurial times.
It was a good start to the year for entrepreneurs looking for a profitable exit. The number of initial public offerings in the US was up 72 per cent on 2013 at 31 through the first two months of 2014, and 56 companies filed for an IPO. Healthcare and biotech firms led the way, with the IPO action reminiscent of the dotcom boom in its heyday.
At its launch in April 2009, crowdfunding site Kickstarter had 40 people pitch £648 for seven projects. Now approaching its fifth anniversary, 5.7 million investors have parted with over $1bn for 57,000 projects. Investors are fairly selective: less than half of the entrepreneurs, about 44 per cent, raise their target amount.
In 2014, licensed companies will be able to sell marijuana for recreational use in the US states of Colorado and Washington. It gives entrepreneurs a chance to roll up a share of a market estimated to be worth £6.1bn by 2018. Banking may be an issue, though, as federal laws prohibit most banks from taking money from firms that grow and sell the drug.
Modern technology allows huge scope for instant entrepreneurial action. Take the case of photographer Daniel Arnold. With just $90.03 in the bank, he offered Instagram followers a one-day opportunity to buy a 6x4 print of any of his photos for $150. He got over $15,000 worth of orders. “It’s not like I’m any kind of entrepreneur,” he reflected. “I’m a business idiot.”
Good news for entrepreneurs living in parts of the world with no internet coverage. Facebook is reportedly involved in a plan to build thousands of drones in an effort to beam the internet to places where no ISP has gone before. The unmanned aircraft act as satellites, circumnavigating the airways at 65,000 feet for up to five years continuously.
June 2014 is the 40th anniversary of the barcode. The ubiquitous black and white striped label first appeared in a US supermarket on a ten-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Fast forward four decades and a wave of start-ups are making use of the barcode’s successor – RFID technology.
The provision of software, infrastructure and platforms as a service, via cloud computing, allows entrepreneurs to conduct activities ranging from accounting to marketing with minimal upfront costs. The cloud services market is expected to grow from $37bn in 2010, to $121bn by 2015, according to research firm Markets and Markets.
Competitions such as The Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup 14/15, with its prize fund of $200,000, are all the rage. It’s great news for entrepreneurs seeking idea validation, development resources, and influential corporate partners.
With 3-D printing shaping up as a new frontier for entrepreneurs, it is no surprise to see heavyweight corporations adding the extra dimension to their business. US-based start-up 3DLT recently opened a storefront for 3-D objects on Amazon, part of a pilot programme by the online retailer to make 3-D printed products more accessible for consumers.
With the right start-up idea it is possible to get very rich very quickly. In February, social media giant Facebook announced the acquisition of WhatsApp in a deal worth $19bn. Not a bad outcome for co-founders, and former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, who started the messaging app firm in 2009.