Three promising business sectors for startups in post-pandemic era (and more)

Updated: May 3

In the last two years, surely, not only did the pandemic bring us restrictions, inconvenience, stagnation, and frustration, but also business opportunities.

Quite a few business sectors have thrived during the last two year, and continue to exhibit strong signs of growth. But are they going to sustain their prosperity or phasing out while we're trying to bring back the world it used to be (not exactly the way it was, you know what I mean).

If you are thinking about start your own business in post-pandemic era, understanding business trends that shape landscape of our future business world will definitely give you an edge on the competition.

Sectors thrived during the pandemic

While we were all staying at home for a good period of time, our needs for living a life (decent or not, a different kind of life apparently) shifted.

Cinema was, technically, dead. In fact, all brick-and-mortar establishments were struggling. Concerts, talk shows, wedding parties, vacations were becoming a remote myth.

But consumer and business needs still need to be met. For the most part, luckily, we found alternative solutions, thanks to 21st-century-technology.

  • E-commerce

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) pointed out in their report that COVID-19 pandemic triggered the digital and e-commerce turning point. E-commerce’s share of global retail trade was raised from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020. UNCTD also found that this significant trend sustained in 2021.

Some evidence is hard to be ignored:

  • By analysing card payments of its 13.5 million customers, La Caixa Bank (Spain) confirmed a significant increase in the use of e-commerce in Spain during the pandemic

  • Amazon’s UK sales jumped 20% in 2021, up 82% on pre-pandemic levels

  • Recent research carried out by PayPal, the Retail Trends and Spends Study revealed that the average annual spend by Irish shoppers on websites within the country rose from 357€ in 2020 to 503€ in 2021, an increase of 41%

  • App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 report uncovered that the total time spent by Android users in shopping apps globally came to more than 100 billion hours in 2021, up from just under 85 billion in 2020

  • Delivery

Since people moved shopping activities to online platforms, as well as restaurant orders, even some business that usually do not need to provide delivery services had to make a change, for example, local pharmacy, for those immunocompromised who need to be extremely careful about avoiding contact with others.

Not surprisingly, demand for delivery service has grown exponentially.

  • Health sector

Covid-19 is a wake-up call for many of us. People reconsidered their options in terms of seeking medical cares: should I get a private health insurance or change my current plan (No, no everywhere works like in the U.S., there exists other sort of systems, just FYI.)?

What happened in the last two years also had a great impact on people’s mental health. I am sure you are very familiar with the term “burnout”. The reason why you’ve heard it, frequently enough, is that people have acknowledged it, employers too.

According to Forbes, investors provided a record-breaking $1.5 billion to mental health startups in 2020. The people and many companies are very serious about making sure they are geting the right help at the right time.

  • Creator economy

Some of you may have guessed it right, Netflix is part of it. But it’s not really what I am talking about here.

I meant, content creators, those who create appealing content with little or no production budget at all, mostly at home during the pandemic, using their smart phone or laptop.

If you are still wondering why it has become an economic growth force that is not to be ignored, see how Forbes explains it with Four Reasons Why The Creator Economy Is Booming and Understanding The Impact Of The Creator Economy.

  • SaaS

Businesses have been desperately trying everything to try to reel. SaaS companies, who provide all kinds of digital solutions:

➣ cloud service

➣ payment methods

➣ communication tools

➣ financial management

➣ ERPs

➣ HRMs

➣ CRMs

The list goes on.

Zoom, a proprietary videotelephony software, saw sales growth of 326% in 2020, far surpassed any of its U.S. tech peers.

Deel, a leading global compliance and payroll solution that helps businesses hire talents globally, raised $425 million in Series D funding in 2021, taking the total amount raised by the company to over $630 million.

Notion, a project management and note-taking software that aids an increasing number of consultants/freelancers building their business and managing their work flow, reached $10 billion valuation and 20 millions users last year.

Will all the sectors thrived during the pandemic stay in the top league? Let’s take a look at where we are now.

The pandemic isn't over, yet. We’re still facing risk of other waves which may trigger new rounds of restrictions.

However, on the bright side, economies are opening up, with cautious. It is unlikely that majority of countries would take strict measures as in early 2020. It’s still going to be a bumpy ride while governments are trying to balance between mortality and economic stability.

Sadly, a war came before us, which added great uncertainty to the economic recovery. It hit retail business hard as expenses on utilities and food raised to sky-high. Global supply chain remains fragile.

Last week, shares of Netflix closed down more than 35%, wiping more than 50 billion USD off market cap, as a report showed the platform had lost subscribers for the first time in more than 10 years, as a result of loss of over 200,000 subscriber (its first loss on subscriptions in 11 years).

How come?

Well, some argue that it is because of its content strategy is outdated. True, but there’re other factors (mostly external) that we cannot take out of the equation when analysing the case, for example,

  • inflation forcing customers to cut back

  • consumers are spending a lot more time on outdoor events and engaging in social activities as they no longer need to conform rules of confinement, so having unlimited streaming content to kill time while staying at home is not a necessity any more

  • Netflix pulled its service in Russia, losing 700,000 customers

  • Platform like TogetherPrice encourages consumers share paid accounts, which led people to reconsider if a subscription is really necessary

  • rise of competitors whose content tend to be more interactive

Netflix is not the first one in it and certainly will not be the only one.

Promising business sectors for startups to step in while we are at the door of a post-pandemic era

COVID-19 seems to be keen on staying with us to shape a co-living future. We've been learning how to take it as less an everlasting emergency, but more a fact of life to live with.

At the top of my list, health sector sits steadily. It was already a thriving sector with numerous growth trends, the pandemic just accelerated its pace on applying technology to better reaching and delivering medical care to the people in need.

Next, for companies who did not make up their mind prior to the pandemic, they surely now have signed up for their digital upgrade. That is to say, with growing support from governments, who’ve seen how economic disruption could be cushioned or mitigated by digital solutions, many more SaaS startups will emerge on the horizon to try to meet business needs.

And finally, creator economy. I’ve heard of a saying: “e-commerce has been democratised”. If that’s true, then same can be applied to creator economy, which is being democratised by a variety of platforms and tools.

Remember, content creation (influencers) plays a big part in creator economy, but it's not all of it. Google “NFT+Creator economy”, you might be surprised by what you find, at least I was.

What about other sectors worth setting foot in while we move forward? With no doubt, there are many, but we will talk about them in the next following months.