Niche Tech

While many tech startups have been hugely successful, they can actually be one of the trickiest business types to navigate for entrepreneurs. Certain segments of the industry can take off at any given moment, while others that seem like sure things end up as flops. With that in mind, it’s important to consider which segments of the tech industry are poised to succeed in the near future.

Virtual Reality

A great example of a failed tech revolution that many thought would catch on is the 3D television. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the popularity of 3D movies in theaters led many TV manufacturers to produce 3D television sets for home viewing. However, after a promising first couple years, the technology failed to truly catch on. As a result, there was never enough programming available to make the 3D feature feel necessary, and by 2017, the 3D TV was completely dead.

On the surface, virtual reality seems like it could follow a similar path. It still hasn’t caught on in the mainstream. However, virtual reality arcades and VR-themed bars are already gaining popularity across the country, while VR sets for home use — like Sony’s PlayStation VR — are gaining traction as well. There is also already a great deal of content available, with over 100 games available on PlayStation VR alone.

With that in mind, virtual reality is in prime position for startups. The market is established, but by no means oversaturated. This is exactly what you want to see when you’re looking for a high-upside tech niche. In fact, Statista projects that the VR software and hardware markets will be valued at a combined $40 billion by 2020.

So, where are the opportunities for new startups in this industry? There’s room for advancements in both the hardware and software sides of the virtual reality world. As far as hardware goes, there are already several manufacturers that produce VR headsets. However, there is still much to be done when it comes to activating our other senses. For example, there’s an opening in the marketplace for devices that tap into our senses of touch, smell, and taste.

There are also many opportunities to develop software for virtual reality. While there will certainly be a demand for more games and other entertainment programing, the future of VR may also include other types of software, from communications programs to system software. In the next few years, people may even be running task-oriented application software on virtual reality headsets.

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

While cryptocurrency can be a volatile market, the industry in general is not likely to slow down anytime soon. As long as people are buying and selling cryptocurrency, there will be a demand for services related to those sales and acquisitions.

Many startups today are self-funding through an initial coin offering (or ICO), which is a means of generating funding through the sale of cryptocurrency. While ICOs are lightly regulated, there are still some services that are necessary for each step of the process.

ICOs typically require a whitepaper to highlight the advantageous features of the company’s products and services. A startup that specializes in producing these documents may be a profitable pursuit. They also need advanced cryptocurrency features like Blockchain coders and trading bots, or they may simply require specialized advertising and graphic design services.

Additionally, the continuing development of Blockchain — the secure, transparent, digital transaction ledger used by cryptocurrencies — has applications that reach beyond the world of cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology has potential uses in a wide variety of industries that require secure transaction records. A startup based on Blockchain services may be a strong bet.

Specialty Photography

When high-quality cameras became universally available in smartphones, it seemed that the standalone camera industry was in trouble. However, much as the Kindle revolution failed to wipe out traditional paper books, photography appears poised for a comeback thanks to the development of several new photo and video niches.

Drone Photography

Drone photography is becoming highly popular, with drones being used for everything from simple selfies to complicated nature photography. Drones can be inexpensive and easy to operate, so this corner of the industry is certainly on the rise.

Drone photography startups can serve this niche with accessories like batteries and chargers, sun shades, filters, carrying cases, and more. With the nature of drone operation, crashes and other damage is common, making repair businesses another potentially lucrative business venture.

Dash Cams

Dashboard cameras saw a worldwide surge in popularity in 2014, when videos taken on Russian dash cams went viral, gaining millions of views on YouTube and other streaming video sites. People began buying their own dash cams both in response to the viral craze and because of their many practical applications.

Today, dash cams are so inexpensive that they’ve become incredibly popular in every corner of the globe. Fully functional dashboard cameras are available for around $40, meaning they’re accessible to every level of consumer.

The worldwide dash cam market is projected to exceed $4 billion in total value by the year 2020, so there’s money to be made in this industry. Dash cam businesses find the most success when they capitalize on both the viral and practical aspects of the product. With that in mind, you can try a variety of markets, from young people hoping to capture the next viral video, to concerned parents making sure they have evidence for potential insurance claims.

Video Doorbells

While it’s always been nice to know who’s at the door, the rise of home delivery services has made it more important to be able to monitor your front door when you’re not at home. After all, with high-dollar items being dropped off on a regular basis, having quality video of potential thieves can be very helpful.

Beyond simply selling video doorbells, one potential startup concept is a video doorbell answering service. For example, if someone rings the doorbell while one of your customers is away, a representative from your company can respond remotely, making it seem like there’s someone home at all times.

Wireless Internet Service Provider

With very few options available, people are almost always complaining about their internet service provider (ISP). Whether it’s too expensive or too slow, there is always room for improvement when it comes to this vital service. You may be able to capitalize on these complaints by setting up your own wireless internet service provider.

While there are some startups out there that already offer this service in limited geographical locations, no one wireless internet service provider has really caught on yet. There’s definitely a demand for more options in the internet service world, but in most areas, the supply is lacking.

When they’re set up correctly, a wireless ISP can have reliable, low latency connections that last for years without requiring maintenance. It all starts with a high-bandwidth fiber connection, usually located in a commercial building. From there, you’ll need to lease space on the roof and install wireless access points.

The trickiest part of this whole process is determining where you should put relay sites for your point-to-point wireless feed to make its way to your end users. If you want to visualize this step for yourself, try playing around with this outdoor wireless link calculator from airLink.

At this point, all that’s left is to install rooftop equipment for customers, and to flip the “on” switch. Depending on the area(s) you want to serve with your initial ISP offering, this entire process can either be fairly simple, prohibitively complex and expensive, or anywhere in between. One thing that’s consistent, though, is that the demand will always be there.

Legal Marijuana

While it technically remains illegal on the federal level, state-level marijuana legalization is sweeping across America, generating an entire new industry. As more and more states legalize, markets continue to arise for entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on this new opportunity.

Marijuana is now fully legal in nine states and Washington, D.C. It has been decriminalized in an additional 14 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A total of 29 states, plus Guam and Puerto Rico, allow medical marijuana with a valid doctor’s prescription.

While marijuana remains fully illegal in 14 states, CBD oil, a marijuana extract with the psychoactive THC removed, is currently legal everywhere in the United States. As you can see, no matter where you live in America, there are opportunities for you in this exploding market.

In the current market, you don’t need to look far to find examples of successful startups. One especially prominent one is Weedmaps, a Yelp-style review site for marijuana dispensaries and their products. Weedmaps generates millions of dollars in revenue per month, and they rent prominently placed billboards all over major marijuana-friendly cities like Denver and Seattle.

Sales and Delivery Apps

Despite the rise of legalization and sales, no widely accepted sales and delivery app has arisen. While there are plenty of apps out there, none of them have caught on enough to become market leading forces.

If you want to create the Weedmaps of sales and delivery, your startup will need to focus on providing service in every location you’re legally able to across the country. You’ll also need to figure out the logistics of handling deliveries, if you choose to include that aspect.

Dispensary Designers and Organizers

Especially in areas with legalized recreational marijuana, image is everything for a dispensary. If you don’t have eye-catching displays and an aesthetically pleasing interior design, many customers will likely pass by your shop in favor of another one nearby. At the same time, there are complex legalities in each market regarding what you can and cannot display in a dispensary, so you can’t hire just any interior designer.

This creates demand for dispensary-specific designer and organizer companies. Such a business can offer remote consultations, on-site assistance, and whatever else a dispensary might need to visually set their space apart from the competition.

Licensing Consultant

No matter what state they’re operating in, all businesses in the marijuana industry are highly regulated and licensed. Most businesses in this industry are startups themselves, and will require affordable advice and assistance as they navigate the legal loopholes of operating their businesses.

A business specializing in advising marijuana industry startups could be a big money-maker, especially in states that have just recently legalized recreational use. Getting your foot in the door early and getting some good local references can help your business succeed for years to come.

Lab Testing

Another segment of the marijuana services market that may be well-served by new startups is laboratory testing. It may not be the most exciting aspect of the industry, but it is certainly a necessity. There are a few different tests required for all marijuana and marijuana-related products (like CBD), and a startup dedicated to conducting them can bring in very consistent business.

The first type of required testing is for heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Especially in a product that is often consumed via smoking, it’s crucial to make sure these metals are either nonexistent or within acceptably safe limits. Marijuana must also be tested for pesticides, molds, bacteria, and other environmental contaminants.

Another required laboratory test for marijuana is a potency test. All legal marijuana is tested for potency, which covers both THC and CBD levels. This form of testing is somewhat similar to alcohol levels printed on packaging for beer, wine, and spirits. It’s important for customers to know what they are buying and what the likely effects will be.

Designer and Specialty Consumption Implements

As legalization spreads, so to does the demand for high quality smoking and vaping implements. While there is certainly still a market for large glass water bongs with elaborate designs, the market today is focused more on convenience. With legal marijuana becoming so common, people are looking to take it with them on the go. This has greatly expanded the market for pocket-sized smoking implements.

One popular option is pocket vaporizers, which allow users to load marijuana into a small cylinder, which is quickly heated to extreme temperatures to vaporize it. Costing several hundred dollars each, it isn’t difficult to see how a startup can make serious profits in this sector.

Farms of the Future

The agricultural trends of the future are underway right now, and they are not only happening on sprawling rural farms or in the marijuana industry. The high-tech farms of the future won’t take up nearly as much space, which will allow the expansion of agricultural solutions to new and unique settings, including urban centers.

There are a number of opportunities for startups in this space. While some of these ideas do require quite a bit of tech knowhow, there are also several products that do not need a great deal of specialized knowledge to produce and sell.

Vertical Gardens

In many areas, condos and apartments are replacing single-family homes in an effort to expand housing options in increasingly dense cities. As a direct result, traditional garden plots are becoming rare. In their place, vertical gardens are growing in popularity. All you need to get started is a wall and a green thumb.

One great idea for a startup is a business that sells these hanging gardens to space-starved customers all across the country. Since many city dwellers also lack access to a car, a business that both delivers and sets up vertical gardens may be very appealing.

There are several different kinds of vertical gardens currently available, starting with the hanging pocket garden, which is usually made either of felt or similar materials. These usually have anywhere from 6-12 pockets that can be fill with a variety of plants.

Another option is a picture frame garden. This type of wall garden resembles a standard wood-frame picture holder, but has growing plants inside it. While popular, there do not appear to be any businesses selling full service deliver and installation for this type of indoor garden.

Finally, there’s the hanging pallet garden, which also doesn’t appear to be sold anywhere as a finished product. The idea is to hang up a standard heat-treated wooden pallet, then fill in the spaces with beautiful herbs, vegetables, and succulents.

Alternative Protein

Another, more complex, agricultural business idea is producing alternative protein sources. Vegetarianism and veganism continue to spread around the world, but alternative protein sources aren’t solely for people choosing meatless diets. In fact, as the world population rises, meat may no longer be viable for everyone due to the amount of land and resources required to raise animals for human consumption.

With this in mind, some clever startups are getting ahead of the trends by starting work on alternative protein sources today. One promising option is to create foods and beverages from pea protein. Aside from soy, peas are the most plentiful and readily available plant protein source, and they have a taste and consistency completely different from that of soy products.

There are also several startups currently working on clean meat, or cellular agriculture. Creating meat from an animal’s cell sample and maturing it in a lab to become real animal tissue, would allow people to enjoy the same meat without the resources required to produce it today. This type of meat does not require raising, feeding, or slaughtering animals, and there are fewer transportation expenses and greenhouse gas emissions.

If you want to enter the alternative protein sphere as an entrepreneur, manufacturing one of the above sources is a great idea for people who have backgrounds in biology or the budget to hire employees who do. Otherwise, a startup can offer services related to alternative proteins, like predesigned packages with ingredients to make tasty alternative protein recipes, or specialized packaging to ship and store alternative protein products.


One thing that all of these startup ideas have in common is that there’s demand for them right now, and that demand will only grow in the future. Whether it’s alternative protein or virtual reality, marijuana lab testing or dash cams, these products all address the developing needs and desires of our near-future society.

Which one sparks the entrepreneurial spirit in you?