Continuing on with our three remarkable hot new startup stories, this post is about speculating on their potential success or lack of it in future. The Dropbox story is a great example of entrepreneurial foresight and true grit on part of the founder Drew Houston. Read an interesting story about Dropbox’s success here and you’ll know why. Having failed to acquire Dropbox, Apple introduced a similar feature in iCloud with overlapping functionalities. You may also be wondering –“Don’t I have Google docs which will store my stuff the same way Dropbox does”? And in the same line of thought one can speculate on Amazon being a big contender for cloud storage. As cloud becomes omnipresent, why bet on Dropbox which in future, may easily be replaced by these other players?
Is it all rosy for Dropbox?
Dropbox offers remote storage with remarkable convenience to the user. But the most important thing presently working for Dropbox is platform and device neutrality. Apple and Microsoft users can both use Dropbox with ease. You can sync your Dropbox with Smartphones, IPads, tablets and laptops. And although our data is going to start moving to cloud eventually, this transition is going to be pretty slow. (Dropbox will have already made some investors rich by then). I believe Dropbox has to keep innovating to stay relevant but they are occupying a nice little niche right now and it will see them through at least for the next few years.
Will you pay?
Quora as a question answer site is not unique. Among the three I have listed, Quora would be the one that I doubt will have a long life. If you are familiar with Stackflow, it is a Q&A site specifically for programmers. But Quora doesn’t define itself by a single user group. The problem with Quora is the lack of a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Would you pay a monthly fee to use Quora? Probably not. It also seems presently to be limited to early adopters, journalists and technology enthusiasts. It does not have a mass appeal. For all the excitement that it generated when it started, will the last sound we hear from Quora be a big thud? I think so.
Airbnb largely depends on a certain unspoken “code of conduct” when it comes to renting. The trustworthiness of this entire operation therefore depends on the trustworthiness of owners who rent out and strangers who rent from them. Recently, reports were filed in San Francisco about an owner’s house being vandalized by a drug addict resulting in thousands of dollars in damages. The other problem is “disruption” can often mean “deregulation”. When I say Airbnb is going to disrupt the way the hospitality industry works, I am also saying that we are just doing away with the laws and regulations that apply to the hotel industry and instead we are taking matters in our own hands and finding accommodations for cheap. And that is not always a good thing. I would rather have the security of knowing that if the heater in my hotel room does not work, I can call the front desk and get it fixed or switch the room. But if that happens to me in a cottage in a country, do I have recourse? Accepting that there will always be some horror stories when it comes to accommodations, I think Airbnb definitely has potential. Moreover, the company has put some good policies in place to cover renters and owners alike.
So this was the end of our startup posts. Before we know, there will be some new companies ready to take on the world and it sure will be exciting to watch.