2022 Trends and Companies to Watch

We’re kicking off 2022 with the world in a bit of a limbo. On one hand, Covid has become a norm in our lives. We’ve lived with remote work environments, Zoom classrooms, and wearing face masks for nearly two years now. However, this year has been a rollercoaster of developments, with vaccine rollouts and the reopening of businesses to a meek holiday season as new variants emerged. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the human ability to constantly adapt and how businesses will need to adapt accordingly.

As I look into 2022 and opportunities for emerging businesses, I am excited about trends that have emerged and been accelerated by the remote world, but have applications in a post-pandemic era as we teeter between varying states of global health. Below I’ll be exploring opportunities and companies building in the following:

Last Mile Delivery

Product opportunities: Imagine getting sick and desperately needing chicken noodle soup and NyQuil. Or maybe you’re hosting a party and ran out of red solo cups just before a game of pong. The competition for last minute delivery platforms address the need in the market for situations when you need necessities and running out to the nearest convenience store is too much of an inconvenience.

As this space is highly operationally challenging, it will be critical to see how players address the rapid needs in the market. Currently given the business model, we’re seeing competition pop up in highly concentrated cities like New York. However, it begs the question of is the TAM and SAM large enough? Can this business be expanded to other regions or geographies? Gig economy companies have proven to be profitably challenging, so companies that are able to optimize on operations will be key in this space. Specifically, I’m curious to see how this can be bundled with other existing delivery infrastructures and the expansion to other industries, like retail or services.

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

All the companies in this space basically offer the same services, but will be following to see which ones survive and how they differentiate their offerings Gorillas, JOKR, Fridge No More, Getir, and Buyk.

FoodTech

Product opportunities: This is a pretty broad category, but on the theme on convenience and functionality, I see the food scene developing to enable more robot / ghost kitchens, alternative proteins / dairy, and functional food / beverage options. There is a greater demand for options with limited interactions and while I don’t see this replacing the entire restaurant industry, there is a demand for quick, on-the-go meal options without defaulting to fast food. IHOP recently introduced Flip’d for fast casual pancake bowls. Other spots like Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and Wow Bao deliver your food in robotic cubbies.

Furthermore, people are looking for a quick fix health cure and sustainable, conscious options. While most people don’t have the budget and time to consume homemade bone broth from Erewhon and feast on farmer’s market finds like Emily Mareko, startups are sprouting up to create sustainable alternative proteins and nutritional options.

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

  • Nugg: plant-based chicken nuggets
  • Deux: vegan cookie dough with functional ingredients
  • Farmer’s Fridge: an automated smart fridge that serves salads, bowls, snacks, and more
  • TooGoodToGo: app that connects customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold food surplus to reduce food waste

Starbucks-ify Healthcare

Product opportunities: Health, specifically healthcare, is on the forefront of our minds these days. As we incorporate healthcare practices into our lifestyles, we need trusted, welcoming brands that embody our aesthetics. Starbucks created a “third place” between work and home where you can walk into a shop anywhere around the world and be greeted by the same brand, atmosphere, and food / beverage options.

As a 20-something, constantly moving around cities and having to find new doctors, I’m excited about companies creating bright, muted jewel toned reception lounges for all your medical needs like dental services, fertility, and dermatology. I see this concept expanding for other specialist services like optometry, allergists, or physical therapists. There’s also opportunities to bundle services in an all-in-one clinic, like Mount Sinai’s HealthQuarters.

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

  • Tend: dental services
  • Tia: female healthcare including gynecology services, STI (aka STD testing,) primary care, annual physicals, and more
  • Kindbody: fertility and family building services
  • Ever/Body: cosmetic dermatology and med spa

Social / Events

Product opportunities: After countless hours behind Zoom calls, we’ve become rusty with social interactions. Some companies are tackling this through platforms to coordinate, schedule, and host event digitally and physically.

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

  • Partiful: plan parties and keep track of RSVPs
  • Luma: foster meaningful relationships with events, newsletters, and community analytics
  • Welcome: host engaging employee experiences that inspire high-performing teams
  • Gather: fully customizable spaces to gather in the metaverse
  • Nooks: virtual rooms for remote teams to connect and collaborate

Gifting

Product opportunities: As one of the five Love Languages, gifting is a key component to maintaining and strengthening relationships. As we continue to seek connectivity in this hybrid environment, several companies are tackling the challenge with streamlined gifting services. The use cases in this space vary from sending personal gifts to loved ones, employee engagement snack boxes, corporate branded swag for recruiting and sales, and other ways to remind people that you’re there.

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

  • Goody: find curated gifts for any occasion, gift with only an email or phone number
  • SnackMagic: send customizable snack boxes
  • Givingli: share a digital greeting or a gift
  • Presently: gather a group to collaborate on a group gift or card

Investing / Personal Finance

Product opportunities: As millennials, growing up during the 2008 recession caused financial insecurity, reduced savings, and deterred us towards real estate investments. During periods of financial instability and variance, our financial decisions come into question. In the past couple years, we’ve experienced one of the highest unemployment rates in decades, stock market dips, followed by consistent bull runs. On the flip side, we’re in an age of monumental returns from meme stocks and Bored Ape jpgs. As individuals are exploring how to get in on the action, several companies are helping young / unexperienced investors get exposure to the fundamentals of personal finance and provide access to liquidity options.

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

  • Fractional: lower the cost-of-entry and time commitment for real estate investment properties
  • Parthean: personal finance playbooks tailored to your needs
  • Chères: a place where you can see what your friends are investing in and get financially fit together
  • Aura Finance: a financial wellness and investment platform

web3 / crypto

Product opportunities: It’d be impossible to talk about 2022 without addressing everything going on in the world of web3 / crypto. While tech Twitter proclaims WAGMI and HODL, there’s still a lot of noise in the space and lack of knowledge around the concepts, protocols, applications, and regulations.

Jack Dorsey famously tweeted recently “You don’t own “web3.” The VCs and their LPs do.” Many claim web3 / crypto is a decentralized space, democratizing access to wealth and resources. However, others see it as a pyramid scheme for the rich to get richer. As we break through some of the noise in the space, I’m interested in companies / organizations that are focused on the following challenges:

  • helping creators monetize their content / audience
  • tooling for DAOs / blockchain technologies
  • educating and making web3 more accessible and inclusive

🏢 Companies I’m interested in:

  • Mirror: a decentralized, user-owned, crypto-based network to express, share, and monetize our thoughts
  • Rally: platform for creators and their communities to build their own independent digital economies
  • Royal: platform where you can buy ownership in songs directly from your favorite artists and earn royalties with them
  • Sound: building web3 tools for artists
  • POAP: way of keeping a reliable record of life experiences
  • SuperDAO: step-by-step process to start, manage, and grow a decentralized autonomous organization
  • Seed Club: DAO that builds and invests in communities
  • Buildspace: learn and start building in web3, earn NFTs, and access work opportunities in crypto
  • Rabbithole: learn how to use and contribute to decentralized apps, earning tokens based on your on-chain activity
  • Odyssey: learning DAO creating quality, free web3 education
  • Layer3: earn crypto by doing sh*t
  • SheFi: DeFi and crypto educational initiative and community aimed at onboarding more women into web3 or blockchain
  • Boy’s Club: nurturing an online and IRL community of crypto curious people

Feel free to reach out with any feedback, thoughts, or questions.

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finding meaning and purpose through social equality, culture and identity, personal and professional development, wellbeing, and sustainability sophiacheng.me

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Sophia Cheng

Sophia Cheng

finding meaning and purpose through social equality, culture and identity, personal and professional development, wellbeing, and sustainability sophiacheng.me

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