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20 Markets Ready for Disruption

Craig Cherlet
Craig Cherlet

Anyone that says that there's a lack of opportunity out there has a significant lack of imagination. Entire industries continue to be disrupted more than they ever have since the beginning of the industrial age.


Recent Disruptions

Look at what these 'new' companies have done to the industries they entered in less than 10 years.

Skype brought free global calling to the masses, cutting significantly into the long distance business of the telecom industry. Skype also made video conferencing mainstream, something you would think would have come from one of the global telecom giants but didn't.

Apple The iphone and smartphones in general have disrupted many industries including land lines, watches, alarm clocks, compasses, printed mapping, dicta-phones, portable music, photography and the retail music industry just to name a few. This will continue as the invention of the app economy works to reinvent many activities.

Wikipedia Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia has disrupted this industry so much that the former market leader Encyclopedia Britannica ended print production after 244 years in 2012.

Amazon Amazon has disrupted the book publishing & retailing industry significantly and even the cloud services industry which isn't that old. Amazon continues to disrupt with many of it's new products and services.

Change is the only constant and if the past 30 years says anything, the disruption is just beginning and it's a bit exciting for those that like to disrupt the status quo.

If you're wondering where the next big opportunities are going to be, here's a list I complied of markets and industries I think are ready for significant disruption.

These were compiled from various blogs and by people responding on Quora to What are some $10B+ markets ripe for disruption?& What are the set of problems that young entrepreneurs should focus on that will yield the next $100 billion companies? and other resources.

20 Markets Ready for Disruption

  1. Education: There is a ton of value created by educating the masses in emerging and under-developed markets and those able to capture this value will do very well.
  2. Construction: 3D printing is on the cusp of becoming a mainstream phenomenon. And yet, contractors are still driving their big trucks over to Home Depot.
  3. Insurance: Micro and Peer insurance (everything can be insured, and people can insure other people)
  4. Loans & Lending: who gives them and how people get them (micro and peer financing)
  5. The legal profession: Simple contracts could be generated and processed by machine at far, far lower cost than a lawyer's hourly rate. Some legal documents could be modeled as graphs of conditions and outcomes, which could then be compared with tree-diff algorithms and annotated with other data.
  6. Intellectual Property: Consider the black box of patent applications, as well as the aftermarket for IP. Patent Trolls is the latest buzz word; individuals or firms pick up bulk lots of IP on the secondary market and file suit against major companies for infringement, hoping for a big win. However, what if there there were a more transparent and readily accessible market for IP?.
  7. Data Informatics: Corporations and professional services firms can pay upwards of six-figures for limited access to certain specialized data stores. While some data pools are proprietary, pulling information from truly unique sources that cannot be duplicated is very valuable.
  8. Real Estate: The fact that a 5% commission is extracted by the brokers for matching buyers and sellers is today's information age is outrageous. The buy side of the market is very opaque with little visibility into who is interested in buying what and where.
  9. Moving industry: A $16 billion/year industry formed mostly from small players. 50 companies have 45% of the market. The rest are small players, companies with under 10 employees. Frogbox has been disrupting this space recently.
  10. Packaging: In USA alone the CPG industry is $2 Trillion! Anywhere between 10% to 40% of that money is spent for the packaging of the product. That is the cardboard, polythene, plastic, paper etc meant for covering the actual product. Environmentally focused products could win significant market share in the space if done right.
  11. Recycling: There's still so much we can do to recycle effectively. There's a huge opportunity here, but I wonder if we'll capitalize on it only after we reach a higher level of scarcity.
  12. Rare Earth Metals: This enormous industry has mostly been pushed into China were extraction labor costs are low enough to be economical. However, with >50lbs of rare earth metals under the hood of your typical Prius or EV substitutes are needed as China cuts supply (recently announced that <50% of China-mined rare earth metals were available for export).
  13. Payments: While PayPal never quite lived up to it's vision of displacing the major processors (Amex, Visa, MasterCard), this area is beginning to heat up again. 2%+ cost for each transaction is the reason $24T of B2B transactions are still completed using paper check. Bitcoin is poised to disrupt payments in a very big way too. This is a crowded space with lots of capital already working to disrupt it.
  14. Low Cost Distributed Energy and Sanitation solutions: Developing countries have a large need for dirt cheap, compact local energy and sanitation solutions, but the same applies to many of the developed countries too. Who wouldn't like the prospect of generating their own energy with small solar panel or other green energy solution? This is especially true when the electric grid becomes unreliable or cost of energy hikes up rapidly.
  15. Diamond retailing: No major disruptions as of yet. This is a $72 billion a year market., the biggest online player, does about $350 million a year in revenues.
  16. The gambling industry: Currently unregulated in half the world (Thailand, India etc) and most bettors go through bookmakers with high fixed odds. With online betting exchanges (Betfair, Smarkets) you get the best prices because of efficient markets and high volume/liquidity..
  17. Medical Devices: Most big companies have commoditized existing equipment (esp.Surgical Devices). Much of the new features being added are bells and whistles to justify a price hike or reduce liability. There are a lot of opportunities in their improvement and total replacement.
  18. Healthcare: Simply put, healthcare is not working and it will get worse as the population ages. Efficiencies need to be created or this will bankrupt governments.
  19. Weddings: A $74+ Billion dollar industry that's fragmented and highly inefficient, probably the last industry left where consumers still shop from a trade show, magazine or Google search.
  20. Automobile sales and marketing: Particularly at the dealer levels if you've ever purchased a car you'll realize this industry is completely broken. Car dealers are packed full of sales people who don't understand the difference between sales and marketing, particularly online advertising and when states are trying to ban the direct to consumer model, you know there is disruption coming.

Did I miss any? I'm sure I did. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Follow me on Twitter: @craigcherlet or check me out at work. I'm a Co-Founder & Director at Marketing Stream, a hybrid marketing agency in Squamish, BC, Canada.

Image Credit: REDPIXEL PL/Shutterstock
Craig Cherlet
Craig Cherlet Member
Thanks for checking out my profile. I hope you're having a great day. I'm a founder of Marketing Stream, a software platform used for local business listings & citation management. We also provide services used by local businesses to create content, manage social media, email marketing and PPC campaigns.