Startups are often recognized for driving innovation, with technology as a catalyst for the creation of new products and services. Founders sometimes invent new tech or make it more viable for mass-market adoption. Other startups find novel techniques to bring existing technology and market gaps together to fulfill an unmet need.
With a dramatic shift in how consumers communicate with companies online, digitization of products and services is accelerating. As a result, tech startups are changing the ways people can use technology to manage everyday tasks. These tasks range from keeping kids safe online to finding an available parking space. Startups are also shifting the focus of tech for entire industries and business disciplines like human resources.
Startups are even harnessing technology to tackle global problems such as climate change. These companies’ innovations are creating the future of tech. Here are a few ways startups are changing how the world can use and benefit from technology.
Keeping Kids Safe Online
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Exposure to technology and the internet is happening at a younger age. Tech has become the backbone of education and curriculum. Children are also exposed to gadgets and online experiences at home and through peers. And while there are many advantages to kids using technology, there’s also the concern of exposure to inappropriate content.
Tech startups are aiming to remove many of the online threats kids face. These startups are introducing products like phones for kids that restrict online activity. Instead of parents having to research and install parental control apps, these phones come preconfigured with just the basics. There aren’t any games or social media apps on them, and internet access isn’t enabled. Parents can give kids their first phones without worry while teaching them responsible technology use.
This same concept is also being applied to tablets and laptops that kids have access to at school. But it’s applied using wide-scale methods. For instance, K-12 school districts are already required by law in some states to use internet filters. These filters block access to inappropriate content on all devices connected to a district’s network.
In-house IT departments can install other enterprise solutions that help teachers block access to certain sites filters don’t restrict. Teachers can add to or modify approved and restricted sites such as Facebook as needed. These monitoring solutions let teachers see students’ activities during class and shut down or lock individual machines. Teachers can get an individual view of which students may need further guidance with appropriate tech use.
Bringing Providers and Consumers Together
Parking is big business. The parking lot and garage industry is worth more than $9.1 billion. So, you’d think that there are plenty of parking spots to meet demand. But have you ever tried to find a parking spot in the city or near a venue and come up empty? Or circled around the block hoping someone will leave? It’s a common and frustrating problem for many. It’s one that a tech startup called AirGarage is solving.
The startup created a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform that connects people and organizations that provide parking spaces. Individuals can sign in to the application and see where unused parking spaces are in their areas. If they happen to be near a downtown civic center in one city, the app will show available spaces. When people move on to the next venue, they can locate unused spaces closest to that location.
AirGarage’s app goes beyond revealing where people can find parking. It also manages the payment process, makes sure visitors follow parking rules, and has a customer support department. The P2P app serves as the intermediary between those looking for paid parking and those who supply them.
Another tech startup that’s solving an everyday problem by bringing providers and consumers together is Tock. The company launched an app that connects restaurants with people looking for dine-in or takeout meals. You can log into the app and put down a deposit to reserve a table at your favorite restaurant. There’s no more calling around to see who has room for reservations on Valentine’s Day. Or walking in multiple places only to find out there is an hour wait for a table.
Tock also charges restaurants lower fees to provide take-out service through its platform. When restaurant owners sign up with the service, they get to cater to both sides of the business. Customers who want a dine-in experience can get one. Those who prefer to pick up and go or have their meals delivered also get what they need.
Helping Industries Overcome Challenges
Employee retention and talent development are becoming increasingly difficult challenges for organizations. Recent research shows that 87% of HR leaders want to make retention their top priority. But 20% find retention hard to prioritize because of competing distractions. Fostering solid relationships between employees, their direct managers, and the company is one way to encourage workers to stay put.
Good relationships require communication, direction, and coaching. Tech startup Numly invented an employee engagement app that helps organizations develop better feedback loops with staff. The application uses AI technology to boost performance and productivity through a combination of mentoring and digital courses.
The app can identify individual skill sets and deliver a curriculum targeted to functional knowledge, such as sales. Employees can also access experts and provide coaching to their peers. Remote and in-person workers can engage with each other, reducing the isolation that can happen between departments and locations.
The app extends the involvement and responsibility for engagement and skill development beyond HR and managers’ purviews. Everyone is an active participant in their own learning process. They also get to help others achieve their professional goals, all while helping the organization meet its objectives. A culture of learning and collaboration is built on AI’s capabilities of revealing what the human eye can’t.
Startups are shifting technology toward providing innovative solutions to some of the issues tech itself creates. These innovators also use technology to solve problems stemming from human nature and build bridges that humans can’t create alone.