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Mon 25 Jul 2016 03:49 PM

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3 business ideas with huge potential

Want to start your own business but unsure of the start-up ideas available? Neil Petch, chairman at Virtugroup, uncovers a few opportunities entrepreneurs should embrace in the second half of 2016.

3 business ideas with huge potential
Neil Petch, chairman of Virtugroup.

If I have learned one thing over the years in my work in the start-up community, it is that coming up with the “game-changing idea” is a pretty small part of the equation.

In fact, if you sit down and brainstorm for half a day with a group of entrepreneurs, I am pretty sure you will end up arriving at more than a few ideas that could be considered viable business opportunities if properly executed on.

And that is the point here: ideas are not all that hard to come by, but the proper execution of those ideas is indeed a rarity, and it is what separates the successes from the failures every single time.

It is why I often advise those who are keen to start their own businesses not to tear their hair out trying to think up the “next big thing”. Not many of those start-up ideas out there are truly unique. Indeed, most of those million- and billion-dollar ideas were simply borrowed from others – borrowed from the markets.

Now your idea is, of course, very important in the sense that it should be something that you are passionate about, but I believe one of the best ways to find an idea you are passionate about – when it is not already obvious to you – is to simply do some market research and see what sectors are heating up. Then look deeper into those sectors or concepts that grab your fancy to see if you can arrive at your “borrowed eureka moment”.

And so I take a look at three sectors that I believe are going to present endless start-up opportunities in the years to come.

Email alternatives

There is a growing belief in the business world that email as we know it is a rather miserable form of communication. And I have to say I am firmly on board with this way of thinking.

Quite simply, email, as we use it now, is not fit for purpose. It is distracting, it takes up far too much time, and its inefficiencies are downright expensive for companies, with a recent study by Loughborough University estimating that businesses fork out in the region of $15,000 per year per employee as a result of time wasted dealing with irrelevant and unnecessary emails.


In light of this, many companies are implementing email alternatives in an effort to wrestle back control of their inboxes and spend more time doing what they are paid to. Without a doubt, the biggest beneficiary of this move away from traditional email is Slack, a tool which brings together all channels of communication, including email, IM, social media and file sharing. Slack has capitalised on this anti-email feeling to such an extent that in only its third year in operation it already has a valuation of several billion dollars.

There are plenty of opportunities here. If Slack is doing that well that fast, this is clearly just the tip of the iceberg, and entrepreneurs with a flair for communication will want to take a much closer look at this space.

Virtual reality training and education

Virtual reality (VR) is an industry with a great potential, but even more so in the area of education and training. At the massive an hugely popular Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this past January, it was the education sector that was in fact predicted to see the biggest impact as a result of VR.

It is not hard to see why. Can you imagine any better way to spark the imagination of a group of high school students than by giving them the opportunity to experience flying through the cosmos or walking beneath the famous arches of the Roman Colosseum? And what about the much more advanced applications – such as VR’s potential in training doctors or surgeons?

Naturally, there are plenty of big boys vying for market share here, including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. But the infrastructure players are often simply there to lay down the framework in which you specialists get to build.

So if education is your thing, you will want to take a closer look at how VR is going to change the way in which we learn, because there is no doubt in my mind that you will literally be tripping over great ideas here that simply need the skilled entrepreneur’s touch to bring to life.


Drones have kicked off in a huge way in the last few years – so much so that aviation authorities around the world are scrambling to introduce regulations to deal with the increasing numbers of these devices in our skies. It is important to remember, however, that drones are far from just a very expensive stocking filler for the occasional hobbyist.

Indeed, while ABI Research predicts that the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) market will surpass $8.4 billion by 2019, it is the commercial usage of the technology that will dominate the market. The real opportunities, according to analysts, are in the practical uses of this technology in a range of industries from construction to agriculture.

The applications are truly vast: drones assessing damage to skyscrapers, inspecting farmlands and oil fields and mines, helping to combat forest fires by providing images and other intelligence – to name just a few examples.

It is no doubt a sector where the creative meets the practical, and as such it is in many ways the true entrepreneur’s ideal challenge.

About Neil Petch:

Neil Petch founded Virtuzone in 2009 and later launched Virtugroup, a holding company that has a wider mandate of supporting start-ups from establishment, to successful market entry, and all the way through to exit.

Charlie 3 years ago

Well presented Neil, I think it prudent to add that as much as an idea needs to be sound, the team driving the idea is what will set you apart, and don't forget platforms!