Industries with fantastic emerging opportunities for entrepreneurs

From drones to driverless vehicles

There is so much opportunity out there. So many different industries making new advances and creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs. It’s no wonder there is almost no way to narrow things down. Especially, if, like me, you have a huge range of interests.

One way to help focus your imagination is to look at high-growth industries to find out what’s happening in them, what new players are doing that established players aren’t, and what changes have brought about significant opportunities for shrewd entrepreneurs in 2016 and beyond.

I’ve put together a list of five industries that are undergoing massive growth or disruptions that are giving rise to incredible opportunities both in the small business arena as well as big money investments for promising startups.

The most exciting aspect of this list is the incredible scope for innovative ideas to combine ideas from different industries to come up with completely new offerings. I’ll point out a few of these as we go; but I’m sure you will be able to do a much better job so feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.

1. Augmented reality (AR) games

Pokemon Go has opened Pandora’s box for a new type of augmented reality game.

In the same way old PC games (from the 80’s) look incredibly primitive now, it’s not going to be long before Pokemon Go goes the same way. They’ve blazed a new trail, but now it’s the turn of imaginative, creative designers and game manufacturers to turn our ordinary world into one filled with all sorts of fantastical adventures.

Augmented reality using mobile phones means that you can develop incredibly fluid and life-like story lines that require interacting with characters within the game — as if they really were there.


Develop a game for vampire hunters who can go on missions to find and fight vampires in their local neighborhood. Create real-life treasure hunts where people can find clues by talking to mysterious virtual reality characters in a race against other treasure hunters. Reality can become like any tomb raider movie you’ve ever seen — but better because the hero won’t be a movie star, it’ll be you.

And, as more and more augmented reality games appear in the next few years, the more the demand for development tools in this field will increase. There’s opportunity to create AR development software kits, tools and services to support what is going to be a rapidly growing market.

2. Drones

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs DronesDrones are taking off (pardon the pun). There are hundreds of thousands of them buzzing around and soon there will be millions. Big companies are starting to deliver goods and fulfill orders using them; governments are transporting documents with them; farmers are monitoring their crops; NGOs are using them to find landmines, fight fires, rescue people, and more.

A lot of different, specialized drones are going to be required for everything from emergency evacuations to watering city apartment balcony plants (when owners are away).


You can come up with a novel use for drones, buy a whole bunch of them, and start selling. Or, you can set up a support business repairing drones (many of them have already been flown into buildings, trees, power lines, and even other drones).

Blogs and tech sites that review new drone models are going to pop up everywhere. Talk shows. How-to guides. Online construction courses. Drone controlling software. Developer courses. Ultimate drone racing and fighting leagues are going to pop-up. All of these are opportunities for entrepreneurs willing to take a chance right now.

3. Apps

OK, so apps have been around for a little while already. They’re nothing new, right? Wrong. There’s a new type of app that’s starting to make its mark. One that integrates information, services and data across a wide range of technologies to provide something truly innovative.

Uber is a great example of this. It uses GPS to locate customers and drivers. It uses map software. It uses in-app payments, and so on.

Gone are the days of simple apps that make “fart sounds.”


New apps must leverage and combine various technologies to offer something really new.

While Uber has done a great job cornering the market in app-based taxi rides, the fight isn’t over. Consider designing a ride-sharing marketplace that analyzes a user’s daily trips and compares it to others doing similar trips. Then, once there is a map those users are able to requests lifts off each other. A person getting a lift pays half the petrol. A person giving a list can pay for their trip with only two passengers.

Users buy credit in-app in order to get lifts. And can cash out from their in-app balance to earn money if they give more lifts than they take. It’s an Uber-type marketplace for ride sharing. Plus, you’ll get the support of virtually every municipality in the world looking to ease congestion on their roads.

4. Driverless vehicles

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs Driverless Car
Photo: romanboed via Visual Hunt / CC BY

On the surface of things it might seem like getting in on the driverless vehicle market is a dream limited to only the biggest auto manufacturers. In fact there will be a lot of changes coming not only to our roads but also our way of life — and with change comes opportunity (for anyone).

Consider the taxi industry. At the moment, a significant portion of costs are incurred by labor. You need a driver (hopefully, a licensed one) to drive from point A to point B. Cab companies that employ driverless vehicles will be able to undercut their competitors and offer a much cheaper service because there are no driver salaries to pay.

Of course, there is already an Uber marketplace for anyone with a suitable vehicle to join and compete for business. It won’t be long before new Uber-oriented companies own tens or hundreds of driverless vehicles that pick up and drop off people around the clock at exceptionally low rates.

Assuming that, at least in urban areas, it is possible to get a cheap lift from anywhere to anywhere, at any time, there will be little need to own a personal vehicle. With more driverless vehicles being used communally, via services like Uber, the space burden for parking in cities will drop — allowing that valuable property to be redeveloped.

Converting all that parking into residential or office space will put pressure on property prices, which should experience a commensurate drop. People might also decide to live further out in cheaper suburbs (because driverless transport will be cheap, safe and efficient) putting more downward pressure on city property.

In between building a driverless cab company, driverless vehicle refuel stations, and looking for opportunities amongst the sea changes that cheap, efficient transport will bring in the next few years, there’s a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs to mine.

5. 3D printing

Remember video stores? They were on every block for about 20 odd years before internet bandwidth became ubiquitous enough to allow for online streaming of video data. But, looking back, 20 years is a pretty good run. For an entrepreneur looking to start a new business, 20 years is more than enough.

3D printing is going to be the same thing.

Right now good quality 3D printing machines are too expensive for the average household consumer. But, there is a demand for cheaply produced on-demand 3D printed products — and this demand will increase as people need to manufacture spare parts for their drones.

Start a chain of 3D printing stores that allow people to order products online — either from a catalog on your own store, or by uploading their own designs. They can either pop into the nearest store to pick up their part or simply have it delivered to them — via drone.

Until new 3D printers that can produce high-quality products and parts are cheap enough for the average consumer, there is a huge opportunity to print things cheaply as an online service. Setting up a website for a niche industry like this will likely require new web tools and software, so there’s also scope to provide online services to a burgeoning 3D printing industry.

Not only that, but the rise of 3D printers will mean the demand for new and innovative printing materials will increase. Think about reusing coffee grounds mixed with resin — a great idea that takes a waste product (that costs money to dump) and turns it into something useful.

What other industries are taking off at the moment? What new opportunities for entrepreneurs lie hidden within those industries? Share your thoughts in the comments.