In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike make their predictions for 2017. They also look back on the previous year’s predictions and evaluate whether or not they were correct.
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Rob: [00:01] In this episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, Mike and I talk about our predictions for 2017. This is Startups for the Rest of Us episode 317. […] Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, a podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome in building, launching, and growing software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike [00:26]: And I’m Mike.
Rob [00:27]: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Mike?
Mike [00:33]: Well, my wife and I rescued a cat this week. There was a cat that was coming up the driveway and our kids were looking at it. It was very friendly and it seemed, obviously, like a stray of some kind, but it got close to us and it was kind of rubbing against my son, and he was patting and he’s like, “Can we feed it?” and of course because you don’t really want to go feeding random stray cats, because they’ll never leave. But this one was like scrawny as all hell. It was probably only about four or five pounds when we found it, and it was full-grown, so it was just obviously in need of some love and care. But it was somebody’s cat. I don’t know whose it was, but we think that somebody just dropped it off. We took it to the vet and had them check it and see if there was like a chip in it, and there was nothing. Posted on Facebook groups and tried to find its owner and haven’t been able to find it, but over the course of about four days, it ate probably close to four pounds of food, which is just an ungodly amount of food for a cat that was that size. So we’ve decided in the end to keep it. So we’ve taken it to the vet, had its shots, and it’s been hanging around in the basement for the past week or so.
Rob [01:35]: Oh geez. Are you prepared for the responsibility? I guess cats are a lot less responsibility than dogs, but have you had a pet in the past?
Mike [01:42]: Well, we already have one cat, so right at the moment, that’s why this one’s in the basement. We’re keeping them separate for the time being, because our other cat is not, I’ll say, very friendly. I’m not exactly a cat person; I’m more of a dog person to begin with, but our upstairs cat is just, you know, she wants to be left alone, left to herself. She just wants to sit in a corner. She’s more a cat that’s like, “Pet me. Stop.” It just does not want to be involved in any way, shape, or form, unless it’s dinner time. So we’re keeping them away. This upstairs cat is definitely not particularly happy that there’s something in the basement, although, I don’t think she really understands what is down there, but she does not like going near the door anymore. She used to go down there all the time and now she’s won’t go near the door. So it’s probably going to be like a month or two before we can integrate them together. But we’ll see how it goes. The kids are in love with the new cat and like playing with it, and we’ve been locking one of them in a bedroom and then just letting the downstairs one come upstairs and hang out a little bit. But we’ll see how it goes.
Rob [02:42]: Sounds good. I wanted to bring up a subject we talked about last week, which was Wistia pricing plans. And when we were on the show, I’d said that Sproutvideo was cheaper. I think it has a –whatever it is – a $15 plan or a $25 plan. And I mentioned that Wistia is basically starts at $100 and I think you said that they had a $25 plan. But since then I went there – because I was talking to someone else a day or two later and we went and looked and it was like, they have a free plan that’s super limited. You get three videos. So it really is hyper-limited. And in essence, they start at 100 bucks at this point. Just to clarify.
Mike [03:18]: They used to, and it’s funny because I’m on their $25 plan. So I used to be on a $100 plan with them, and then they moved a lot of their pricing plans around and it made more sense for me just to switch down to their $25 plan. And then since then, they’ve gotten rid of that and now they only offer the $100 plan again.
Rob [03:35]: And so they start around $100 and then Sprout does have a $20, basically a $25 plan that is, again, it’s a bootstrapper plan is how I think about it, because it doesn’t have all the features that Wistia does but it is a perfectly competent platform and you can capture emails and do stuff – just not as much fancy stuff as you can with Wistia. Other thing for me is, first time ever this week going to Disney World. Actually taking the kids there as a surprise. I’m pretty excited to get down there and see what’s up. I’ve been to Disneyland a few times but I heard that it’s quite different. It’s a different scale. Have you been there? Have you been to Disney World?
Mike [04:10]: I have. I’ve been there I think twice. So we went down there with the kids both times and we took my mother-in-law once as well, just because she could help out with the kids. But it sprawls. There’s a lot to Disney World. Do you know where you’re going, or?
Rob [04:23]: Yeah. We’re staying in one of the resort hotels and then we have basically three days and we go to three different parks. So we’re not doing Epcot; we’re doing all the other three parks. The thing I’ve been really impressed with, with Disney is the level of technology that they’re using. So I’ve received basically a print on demand booklet that says, All-in family vacations, has the Incredibles on the front. You flip it over and it’s like your itinerary is all custom-printed inside, it looks really sharp. Then they send you the wrist bands and those must be NFC or something, because they say that’s your FastPass, that’s your key to your door of your hotel room. That’s your meal ticket. It’s like everything. And each of them is monogrammed. It’s etched with the name of the person. It’s really, really pretty impressive. And then I’ve been selecting FastPass stuff online in advance and I’ve been able to move that around and it’s super flexible and I’m impressed with the level of sophistication and really feeling like we’re not just going somewhere and going to spend days standing in line, but actually able to plan this thing and feel good that things are taken care of.
Mike [05:22]: When we went to Disney World, we went to a couple of the different parks. We went to Epcot and we went to the regular Magic Kingdom and there was – there was also, I think it’s Animal Kingdom?
Rob [05:31]: There’s a wildlife, yeah.
Mike [05:33]: So we went to those, but we ended up spacing it out a little bit. So we were there for about a week, I think, and we went to a different park every other day, and what we found out was that the kids were just wiped out by the end of each day. So the next day it was like a recovery day, and we would just stay at the hotel or go someplace else and not let them be as overwhelmed. And then the following day we would go to one of the parks. And we found out that that worked well. But they were younger then. So your kids are older than they were, so I think that they’ll probably be fine.
Rob [06:01]: We’ll see. I’m sure we’ll all be exhausted by the time it’s done, but we basically have three full days down there and then the two book end days are our travel days. So it’s nice to do it. And we’re actually recording a couple of weeks in advance, so this is over Thanksgiving, which is why we decided to do it now.
So let’s dive in to our predictions. In a true Startups for the Rest of Us tradition, we like to look back at the predictions we made last December. We made predictions for 2016. We each have four. We’re going to look at those, evaluate whether we think they became true, whether we think we were correct with them, and then we’ll wrap up the show with our predictions for the coming year. So you want to kick us off with your first prediction that you made last December for 2016?
Mike [06:41]: Sure. So the first one I made was that lots of churning would happen in the wearables’ category. And I had said that I didn’t think that I saw most of these going anywhere and that it’d be a few years before any of these became really big. And one of the things that I had mentioned specifically was that I didn’t think that the Apple Watch was ever going to be a big thing like the iPhone or the iPod. And I would say that this probably turned out to be true. I look at the landscape and I don’t see anything that came out where everyone was like, “Oh, I have to have that,” or, “I really want that.” And even Apple this past year came out with the Watch 2, and there wasn’t really a lot of hubbub about that from the community or from the people who were out there investing in those types of technologies. They looked at it and they said, “Yeah, that’s okay. It’s a nice incremental improvement, but the first one was not so overly impressive that it really made a big difference in my life.” I even saw some people who they said that they regretted getting it. And I think that there’s a lot of those different wearables, especially when you see things like the things coming out from Fitbit and various other companies. There’s just not a lot to them. They augment what’s going on already, but they don’t necessarily change how you live your life, or what sorts of things you do.
So again, I think that this came true or it just was status quo I’ll say more than anything else. But I think it’s going to be a while before the wearables category really starts to take off, because it’s going to be a while before people figure out what is it that the consumers really want or would really alter their lives or make them better. And I don’t think it’s really obvious what those things are. I think there’s a lot of opportunity, I just don’t think that there’s – there’s not that killer feature yet that people are like, “Oh, I absolutely have to have that.”
Rob [08:17]: My first prediction for 2016 was that single-round bootstrapping, also known as fundstrapping will become a common, viable option. And I would say that it has become more of a viable option. I’m not so sure it’s common. I had imagined more people taking this road. Although it is more viable, it is more popular, and I’m seeing more people seek this road as they hear about it, right, as we talk with the Jordan Gall or Justin McGill who have really done the fundstrapping model. Or when I had Bryce from India VC on the show a few episodes, that seemed to really resonate with people on the thought of being able to raise around, to get there faster, and to be able to basically quit your job from day one but not be beholden to VCs and not be beholden to this implied series A. I think it’s really appealing to people and it has a lot of the pluses of bootstrapping with some of the benefits of basically raising funding. And it’s a mix. So I think this is a partially accurate assessment. I think maybe I’m ahead of the game, but I do continue to believe in this model and I think it’s going to become even more popular over the next year or two, especially as a lot of the startups space and specifically the SaaS space continues to be really competitive.
Mike [09:27]: My second prediction was that we’re going to see a lot more bootstrappers in our circles concentrating less on making money and more on doing what they’re enjoying doing, and more or less living their lives in their own terms – less consumerism and less accumulating of stuff and more doing what they enjoy. And I don’t know, I think this one’s hard to gauge. I definitely wouldn’t say that this was an obviously accurate statement, but at the same time, I wouldn’t say that it was obviously proven to be false either. It’s somewhere in between, but it’s hard to measure that as well.
Rob [09:54]: I think we need to make more concrete predictions, because some of these are hard to gauge, you know?
Mike [09:59]: Yeah.
Rob [10:00]: So my second one was Twitter will become less relevant over the next year, returning to its roots, it’ll be journalists and technorati and it will be ripe for an acquisition. And this, of all the predictions I’ve made, perhaps over the past several years, this one I think was dead-on. And this was not – it’s obvious now that this is happening, but this was not on people’s radar a year ago. Twitter was still growing and people were on it and stuff. So I remember making this and thinking, “Boy, I’m kind of going out on a limb with this one.” And I’d say this is really accurate as we’ve heard lately with acquisition talks and failed acquisitions rumored, all types of stuff. So what do you think?
Mike [10:40]: I’ll admit. I thought that you were definitely going out on a limb on that one, but I’ve noticed that even I’ve stopped using Twitter nearly as much in the past 12 months as I have in the previous couple of years. So it’s interesting to see that. It’s not something I would have expected, but anecdotally from my own experience, I’ve used Twitter a heck of a lot less this past year than I have in the previous couple of years.
Rob [11:00]: And you’re not alone. You said growth is basically mostly flat-lined and the revenue is not growing as fast as people want. It’s still growing but the stock market doesn’t love the growth and then, like I said, there have been acquisition rumors that have fallen through. So I think I nailed it on this one.
Mike [11:18]: My third prediction was that there’d be fewer IPOs and more acquisitions in the tech space. And I also felt like there’d be more stagnation from the unicorn companies. And if you look at some of the classic unicorn companies like Airbnb and Dropbox, they still obviously exist and there’s nothing wrong with them – at least it doesn’t seem to be in terms of their business model – but they don’t appear to be doing anything radically different and they’re definitely not on the same growth trajectories that they used to be. It seems like they’re still growing but not nearly at the rates that they were before. And I’m not seeing anything new from them. I am seeing that they’re going through and acquiring certain technologies or other companies that will help augment their services, but there’s nothing so dramatically new there. I also haven’t seen very many tech IPOs this past year, but there have been acquisitions as well. So those acquisitions have continued to happen. Drip is an example of one of those things. You didn’t go IPO with that, but I don’t think you ever really had intended to do that either, but there was that acquisition and then there’s other companies out there that have been acquired in the past 12 months as well and it’s – I would say that this is probably more accurate than not. But again, like you said earlier, it’s hard to quantify because we haven’t really put any sort of benchmarks on these.
Rob [12:30]: My third prediction for 2016 was that public markets would continue to value companies lower than their private valuations. And what was going on at the time was that folks were raising these funding rounds from venture capitalists and the good companies were getting these really high valuations and then they would go public, and their per share price would actually be lower than their most recent round. It was like going public was a down round. And from what I’ve seen this year, it has continued to be that. I think there was a big hit. You know remember, we made these in November, December last year and there was a massive hit, especially to SaaS, to B2B and SaaS valuations last January, where I think SaaS valuations were right around seven times annual revenue and they were cut to about 3.3 within a two-week span in January. Now they’ve since recovered and they’re up in the – let’s say between four and six range, depending. But there has continued to be – I’d say this has continued to be accurate. This is something that was already playing out in 2016. I wouldn’t even venture to say what’s going to happen in 2017. It depends a lot on what the public markets do. But it’s an interesting twist in that if you looked 5 or 10 years ago, and especially even 15 years ago, during the .com boom, the public valuers were always higher than private, because that was the scale up, is that you’d raised your series A, your B, maybe a C – and then you go public and you’d get this big bump whereas people who were, you know, even as of last year, people who were in on the last round of investment were basically losing money when the IPO happened. So it was this interesting frothy market.
Mike [14:02]: So my fourth and final prediction last year was that drone technology was going to take a serious step forward based on the FAA regulations for registering drones over eight ounces. And I look at the technology itself and it feels to me like things have come a long way. Now I don’t know really whether that was driven specifically by those new regulations, but if you go look at toy magazines for example, or websites where they have drones as like a peripheral thing, not necessarily – you don’t want to go to a drone website where all they sell is drones, because obviously that’s – it influences in the wrong way. But if you look at things like, for example, a Target newsletter or a weekly flyer or something like that, you will see small drones in there that you really didn’t before, and they’ll have several different variations of them. So I do think that the technology has taken some serious steps forward – whether it’s directly influenced by those regulations, I don’t know for sure. My suspicion would be yes, but it’s hard to say definitively that that was exactly the reason. But I would say that this was relatively accurate.
Rob [15:00]: My fourth and final prediction for last year was that virtual reality would be a hit with the early adopters set in 2016. And I would say this is not accurate. I think it’s still too early. I just think we haven’t hit that. Even with early adopters, I know there’s a lot of headsets coming out and there’s AR fighting VR, and it’s a really interesting space to watch. But it still feels like early days and I definitely wouldn’t call it a hit yet. I wonder if in the next – it’s kind of hit eventually, right? So in the next 12 to 18 months I think things will go. But definitely didn’t happen as quickly as I had imagined.
Mike [15:40]: So those are our 2016 predictions. Why don’t we go into our 2017 predictions? Rob, why don’t you kick us off?
Rob [15:46]: So my first prediction for 2017 is that there will be another high-profile acquisition in the bootstrapped space. And by another, I mean, Drip being one that happened this year that is an example of our little community that started with a few bloggers and you and I talking on a mic and then getting 100 people together in a room in Vegas in 2011 has really grown, and not only in size but just in the apps we’re building and the impact we’re having both on our lives individually, on each other with all the masterminds that come out of the community that we built, as well as the apps that are coming out of it. And they’re becoming higher and higher profile, and so I’m going out on a limb and I’m saying that there’s going to be another – when I say high profile, I don’t mean a technology sale of a web app for a 3.5 times annual net. I mean another one that’s a big funded company or a larger company buying someone that we know – that we know by name in the Microconf circles, in our podcast circles, and folks who we’ve talked about in the past on the show. And I don’t know of anything that’s coming specifically or I don’t know specifically who it’ll be, but I have a few ideas and it’s just some potentials.
Mike [16:52]: Bottom line you’re saying you’re not cheating with insider information.
Rob [16:55]: Exactly. That’s what I’m trying to clarify here. This really is a prediction and not just me gossiping about rumors that I’ve heard or anything.
Mike [17:03]: Sure.
Rob [17:04]: How about you?
Mike [17:04]: Well, my prediction for 2017 is that health insurance rates are going to become a much bigger issue for self-funded companies. And I’ve heard talks quite a bit about this over the past – I don’t know, maybe three to six months I’d say – where people are starting to ask more questions from the bootstrapped community. And I think that this coming year it’s going to become a much bigger topic, just because the way the election went and there’s all these questions and uncertainty moving forward. And the reality is that if you look at the health insurance rates for a self-funded company if you’re self-funded, you’re running the business, and you’re the only employee, for example, you have very little data to go on in terms of what other people are paying for health insurance and what’s common and what’s not. So there’s all this obscurity around what should you be paying for your health insurance and what is normal? And I think that as people get more comfortable asking those types of questions, that’s going to come up – and I think it’s going to become a much bigger issue in our circles for people – not just in what it is that they’re paying but who they’re using and what’s common, what’s normal, and quite frankly – do they even need it? Are there other ways that you can go about solving this particular type of problem for yourself and for your family that may not necessarily be options for – I don’t want to say mainstream people, but for people who are W2 employed for like a large company. Are there other options that people in our circles are going to come up with that are helpful and useful in that specific situation that would not be generally applicable outside of that situation?
Rob [18:35]: And I would say this is already an issue today. So you’re saying it’s going to get worse?
Mike [18:41]: I’m saying that it’s going to get worse and it’s going to get talked about. I think that previously –I’ve seen a few talks about it here and there, and I’ve seen some conversations happening here and there, but I think that those types of conversations are going to become more mainstream in our circles, just because the sheer cost associated with paying for your own health insurance is starting to rise dramatically – and I’ve noticed this myself with my own insurance, where from one year to the next I might be paying $3-400 a month in addition to what I was paying before, which that can be easily 30-40%. And you look at that and you say, “Well, okay, what other options do I have here?” What I’ve seen is that some of the insurance companies, they’ll just jack up to your prices until they get to a point where you’ve decided that it’s no longer worth it for you to have insurance through that company, and then you’ll go to some other company. And I think what they’re doing is they’re essentially price testing on their own customers to see who’s going to tolerate those price increases and who’s not, and using the knowledge of their current customers to help them basically extract more money out of their customer base. And if a bunch of them cancel, so be it. If they don’t, well, that’s fine, they’ll get the extra money, and then they’ll kind of adjust that. But because not everybody’s health insurance renews on the same month of the year, they’re able to do that on a monthly basis – and essentially I feel like they’re price testing that month in and month out and adjusting their prices over the course of the year.
Rob [20:07]: And this is mostly a US only prediction, because a lot of the countries in the world take care of their folks and don’t let the insurance companies do what they do here. So my second prediction is that startup crowdfunding in the JOBS Act here in the states which allows non-accredited investors to invest through sites like Indiegogo, and they just launched this week – they’re crowdfunding. I’ve gone back and forth on this but I think I’m pretty confident that it’s going to fizzle out. It’s not going to have legs like Kickstarter and product crowdfunding has, where you do something and you get a product in the end. I think that people like to think about this idea of putting $100 into a bunch of different startups, and that that’s fun and exciting, and I think there’ll be buzz about it, but I don’t think it’s going to take off in any meaningful way. I think that like the good startups, and the best that are raising money are not maybe going to go to crowdfunding. That they have either the connections or they have the traction to get known angel investors and people on angel.co and institutional investors and that kind of thing, and that startup crowdfunding will probably be filled with a lot of noise. There’ll be some signal there but it’ll be people who basically can’t raise or aren’t able to raise through their network, and so it’s naturally – again, this is just my prediction – naturally going to be the lower end and the startups that are less likely to be successful.
Mike [21:29]: My second prediction is that the bar for building a SaaS is going to continue to become harder to reach. And I feel like there’s almost this tipping point that’s starting to happen, where companies are – instead of taking that approach where they go out and they do the customer development and do a lot of the upfront work that has traditionally been done to identify the market and the different channels you can use, and customer validation and all that, I feel like that is still a viable channel, but I think that people are going to start moving more towards the model of building a service around that offering first and offering more of a comprehensive, complete solution for people that’s all manual driven, driven by people on the backend, and then once they’ve figured out the market, transition into building software to kind of SaaSify the whole thing so that they can go mass market with it.
I’m starting to see this in a couple of different places, but I don’t think that it’s really become mainstream yet, but I think that this year we’re going to start to see a lot more of that because the risks associated with building a services company, I think, are dramatically lower than they are for building a SaaS where you’ve got this long development cycle upfront and then you start putting customers in it. And the funding that is required to do that type of thing is substantially more than if you were to build a services company where you’re charging people 500, 1000, 2000 dollars out of the gate, per customer – and yes, you’ve got a lot more cost behind it, but you’ve also got the ability to put in five customers, and that’s 10k in revenue – whereas if you have a SaaS offering and you put in 10 customers, you’re probably only getting like 5 or 600 dollars a month. And the revenue that is different between them is just – it’s dramatic. You can build a services based company like that very quickly, because you’ve got the revenue coming in. And well it’s very easy to make adjustments to the processes that people go through, but it’s much more difficult and much more time consuming to change a software package when you don’t have enough volume going through it to be able to justify or be able to clearly say, “Look, this particular piece,” or, “This feature needs to be changed,” or, “This feature needs to implemented.” You can change the processes much, much faster than you can change software, and I think that people are going to start to go in that direction and it’s partially due to the fact that that bar that people have as an expectation for how good a piece of software is when they first sign-on to it is so much higher now than it was two, three, five years ago.
Rob [23:50:]: So I actually think this is really already going on. This is the concept behind Brian Casel’s talk at Microconf here last year about productizing services. What are you saying that’s going to be different than what’s already gone on?
Mike [24:03]: What I’m saying is that we’re going to start to see a lot more of this type of approach, where people build – so like take for example, Brian Casel where he was talking about Audience Ops – and I think there’s a difference between just building a services-based company versus building a services-based company and then leveraging that into a SaaS product that you build as a follow-on for like the lower-end market that you’re not addressing because you don’t have the manpower and they’re not willing to pay that level. And I guess if you were going to point directly to Brian with Audience Ops, they’re coming out with the Audience Ops calendar. And that’s out on their website; you can go take a look at it, but they are moving in the direction where they have this Audience Ops process that they’re putting in place and they’ll do it for you as a service, but based on all the things that they’ve learned, they’ve said, “Okay, well, if we’re going to build a product out of this, how do we go about doing it and what needs to go into it?” They’ve already done all the customer development. They’ve learned all the different things that need to go into it, now they’re distilling it down into a software package that they can sell. That’s the model that I see coming to the forefront, where people will build the services company first and then build the product afterwards – as opposed to doing it the other way around or just going strictly on the software-only model.
Rob [25:12]: My third prediction for 2017 is that we’re going to see a correction in the US stock market and I think it’s going to be 20% or perhaps more. I’m not commenting on the broader economy. I don’t necessarily think that there’s going to be any type of recession or anything, but the stock market is averse to uncertainty, and that’s when the stock market does crazy things – goes up really fast or down really fast. And I think that if anything, our president elect, Trump, is someone who inspires uncertainty. I think some of the things that he’ll wind up doing over the coming year will probably have a negative impact on the stock market, and I also think that obviously it’s pretty obvious that interest rates are going to be coming up after historic lows and that always sends the stock market down as people come in and now put money into T-bills and other things that are going to pay higher interest rates. So I’m not one to have bearish predictions in general; I tend to like to have a positive outlook on things, but I for one I’m keeping my eye on the stock market and the economy as a whole, and thinking that we’re due for some type of correction, I think, that most people who follow the market would agree, that we’re probably pretty over-valued right now and that something needs to give there.
Mike [26:18]: My third prediction actually relates to that a little bit. And it’s not so much directly related to the stock market correction so much as it is about the uncertainty of the future. And I think that what we’re going to see, as a result of that, is that some of the more small-scale businesses or small-scale entrepreneurship is going to pick up steam, and I think related to that we’re also going to see a lot more of the small- scale entrepreneurial meet-ups around the world.
I think still Tiny Conf this past year is split out into three different locations. There’s the – there used to be just East and now there’s East and West and then there was the East, West and now there’s Europe. I think that we’re also going to start to see various meet-ups that are completely unrelated to those around the world as well. I’ve seen some start popping up over in Germany and in London, and I feel like this is the year where we’re going to start to see those types of things advertised a little bit more, and become much more common. Even two, three, four years ago, around here – like I only live an hour outside of Boston and I’m just not – I haven’t been seeing those types of things. And now I’m starting to see them. I’m starting to see them pop up even around where I live, which it’s interesting to see that because, yes, I live near Worcester which is I think it’s the second largest city in Massachusetts, but historically, there has not been a lot of activity around this particular space and I think that with the uncertainty that’s coming up, with the president elect, Trump, and all the other things, the interest rates going up, I feel like companies may very well start cutting back a little bit, and when those types of things happen, if companies start letting people go, there’s one of two things that usually happens with people that either leave their jobs – whether it’s voluntarily or not – they tend to either go back to college or they start their own business. And I feel like a lot more people are going to end up going out and starting their own businesses, because to them they’ve been working at those companies for a while, yes it’s been great but there’s starting to be a downturn and they say, “Hey, you know what? I’m a little bit too old to go back to school. I don’t want to. I’ve been down that road before. Let me go out and start my own thing, because I have the awareness or the knowledge of the different markets and confidence to go out and try my own thing.”
Rob [28:23]: As I said in the very first original micropreneur.com, reports that people could download – it was that Lead Magnet or opt-in reward – there has never been a better time in history to start a software company. And I think that’s continued. I wrote that in 2008 or 2009, and I still believe that today. My fourth and final prediction for 2017 is that the first package will be legally delivered with an unmanned drone. This will be somewhere in the world that I don’t think it’ll be in the US, due to the regulation, but I think some country in the world will not care and that a consumer package is what I mean, is someone paying for something. I know there’s already a disaster of the leaf drones where they maybe get medicine to places where the roads have been decimated by a flood or an earthquake or something, and that’s already going on. And in times of emergency, people are allowing that to happen. But I’m imagining someone either paying for something like from an Amazon or walmart.com or food – ordering food and having that delivered.
Mike [29:23]: I was just thinking tacos.
Rob [29:25]: Tacos is really good. And the reason I said legally is that there’s already been – there was a story two weeks ago in New Zealand where somebody took a drone, programmed it, and wrote and put a note on it and like a $10 bill and it flew down to this sausage store or like a butcher, I guess, butcher shop of some kind and it said, “Please, give me one pound of sausage.” And they put the change in an envelope and attached the sausage to the drone and then it flew back to the guy. And I think the cops sighted him. You’re not supposed to fly unmanned drones over people, you’re not supposed to fly them out of line of sight, and so it was there. So that’s why I’m saying the first packets actually legally delivered with an unmanned drone. And I do mean a consumer or a purchased product.
Mike [30:11]: I could definitely see this happening. I’m kind of with you. I’m not sure whether it would be inside the United States or not. My suspicion is not, but I could potentially see where they allow it in a particular test scenario or something along those lines. And so are you thinking that this would be something that is outside of a test scenario or outside of like tightly controlled circumstances?
Rob [30:32]: Yeah. I think that it’s going to be tightly controlled for the first year or two, period. I think that they’re going to basically program a drone to go do something and they’re not going to monitor it super closely, but that it’s going to be unmanned and not piloted. That it’s going to be programmed to do that.
Mike [30:48]: I don’t mean tightly controlled as in them not really paying attention to it, I mean tightly controlled as in, oh, they’ve got a government auditor on site watching the whole thing from beginning to end just to make sure that it works and nothing major goes wrong, and if it does then somebody can ask questions of that person. I mean more of a, they look at the laws that says that they can do it and then they just go do it. Does that make sense?
Rob [31:11]: Yeah, it does. I don’t know that it matters, whether there’s an auditor on site or whether – I don’t know. I think that if something’s delivered legally with an unmanned drone, whether the government is really active in that and it’s part of a pilot project, I think that fits the description of what I’m looking for. I think it’s similar. We can make another prediction about unmanned vehicles, right, about basically self-driving cars. I know they’ve – at least one state, maybe two, have kind of legalized them for test purposes, but I’m curious to see if we’ll start seeing any unmanned trucks or unmanned cars really starting to take shape here in 2017. I don’t have a prediction about it, but it’s definitely something we’re going to see unfolding here pretty soon.
Mike [31:53]: I think eventually, yes, but for the time being, I don’t know about that. I could see it being done on highways for like long haul stuff – I don’t know about inside of a city where you’ve got lots of things going on. I think that people would be a lot more hesitant about. But driving across the country a couple of thousand miles, I could definitely see stuff like that happening.
Rob [32:12]: Long haul trucking and stuff?
Mike [32:13]: Yeah.
Rob [32:14]: They’re saying that’s going to be disrupted pretty early.
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