Do you have any advice on spotting a business opportunity or valuable start-up idea? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Michael Cardamone, Managing Director, Acceleprise , on Quora:

If you're looking to start your own business, you have a great deal of company -- and competition. Half of U.S. adults either want to own their own business or already own one, a University of Phoenix survey found.

Most startups won't make it for the long term. That's the nature of entrepreneurship. While the failure rate is not as high as the apocryphal 80-90%, federal statistics show that most new businesses close within six years.

As an angel investor and managing director of an accelerator, I see entrepreneurs all the time who have lots of drive, ambition, and high hopes. Some also have strong ideas and a sense of their go-to-market strategies. But there's a big step the strongest contenders take to distinguish themselves.

Build for the new tech landscape

If you're looking to build a tech startup that has the potential to grow into a large enterprise, design it around the next generation of emerging technologies.

Business and technology are changing at an unprecedented pace. New tools are sprouting up faster than people know what to do with them. So the strongest startup ideas right now are those that fill these emerging spaces -- that give businesses (for a B2B startup) or consumers (for a B2C startup) great, innovative ways to put these new tools to use.

This will maximize your chances of success and will enable you to grow more quickly and efficiently. It also makes it more likely your startup will have strategic value for the established enterprise companies in your space, increasing the odds and size of an acquisition down the road.

Learn all you can about the new technologies and about problems businesses or consumers in different industries are facing. Find ways to turn these technologies into solutions to those problems.

Here are three to focus on right now.

Industry-specific AI

Businesses are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence. By one forecast, they'll spend $36 billion on AI systems this year, and annual spending will more than double to $79 billion by 2022.

But most executives don't know how to put AI to use in their businesses. Startups that can apply AI to solve real problems within an enterprise are poised for big growth.

This is especially true for industries that traditionally have lagged in adopting new technology, such as real estate, construction, insurance, and supply chain/logistics.


The number of American adults who own smart speakers has skyrocketed from 47 million to 66 million, comprising more than a quarter of the population, a survey found. Analysts expect this trend to pick up pace. More than half (55%) of U.S. homes will have smart speakers within the next three years, one study predicts.

Businesses want to get in on the trend. A survey found that while 28% of businesses were already using voice technology to communicate with customers, 85% planned to within the next year.

Look for the kinds of solutions you can create in this space. For example, consider how voice applications could be used in blue collar industries, in which employees are not in front of computers all day and need to capture certain information.


5G could, as PC Magazine puts it, "transform our world." The new generation of cellular technology is expected to move data more quickly, be more responsive and connect more devices at once.

The race to 5G readiness has pitted the United States against China -- and lots of companies against each other. A study predicts that by 2035, the "global 5G value chain will generate $3.5 trillion in output and support 22 million jobs."

Businesses, consumers, organizations and government agencies will want ways to take advantage of it. New solutions could give them a big competitive advantage. That makes startup ideas built around 5G especially promising.

There's more where this came from. Learn all you can about how the gig economy keeps shifting, and how data processing is undergoing a revolution. Stay up to date on all the latest trends.

Having worked with and invested in more than 100 startups, I've seen what it takes to succeed: well designed, well executed ideas that speak to the most current challenges and opportunities -- and lots of hard (but exciting) work along the way. Take these steps, and you'll give your startup the greatest chance of beating the odds.

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