Question

What will be the breakout software category in 2021?

2020 saw an explosion in the use of video chat tools—and the ecosystem of add-on software to make video calls better and other tools to aid remote work. It also saw notes apps be an increasingly popular category, fueled by the popularity of wiki-style linking in tools like Roam Research and later Notion. And it saw email continue to thrive, with the Basecamp team rethinking email as we continue to email even as we're chatting all day in Slack and Teams.

What software categories do you think will get the most focus in 2021? What new trends from 2020 and earlier will finally go mainstream, and which older software will finally be reinvented?

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giohobbins's avatar
10 months ago

More saas that handles your product's "rails." By that I mean all the things that deliver what's valuable about your product but aren't in themselves the value.

Your product's "rails" are support, billing, authentication, transactional emails, onboarding - these things help users access the value of your product but don't need to be special or differentiated for your product to be successful. They're just the rails upon which your product's value is delivered.

Intercom, AppCues, Auth0, and Algolia made it more efficient to buy parts of your product rather than build. And wouldn't most teams prefer their engineers to be working on differentiated functionality vs the "rails."?

What is the next "rails" product in this vein? What is really expensive to build, undifferentiated, but your product still needs it?

An interesting new player is transcend.io which handles user privacy for your product.

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @giohobbins )
10 months ago

That's a fascinating way to put it @giohobbins. It's similar to what I've thought of as software API building blocks, where today you don't need to go build a payment infrastructure, make telecom deals for phone and notification services, and set up real-world servers. Instead, you use Stripe, Twilio, and AWS which combined are an incredible shortcut to starting a new app. No-code tools go even further—you might not build your business on Bubble, say, but you definitely might use it to get started or build an internal tool, along with tools like Segment or Zapier to speed up your build.

I think business services and HR tools are a similar thing—if you can outsource them, you have more time to focus on your real product. Even office space fits there, with remote negating the need for it or players like WeWork trying to almost virtualize physical spaces.

Legal-as-a-service seems like one that should be here, though Atrium wasn't able to make the model work.

There's absolutely a huge opportunity for anyone who can identify a new business or software-building components.

2 points
Fynn19's avatar
@Fynn19 (replying to @giohobbins )
10 months ago

Like it .

Rails is an interesting term.

Algolia = search

Intercom = chat support
App cues = onboarding

Any products that have created rails for off boarding?

How do you think customer surveying fits here. Is delighted an example of rails?

In a similar vein, is disqus a rails product for user comments?

1 point
derekzhou's avatar
10 months ago

I'd like to see apps targeted to non-tech savvy, small businesses. Things like accounting, CRM, workflows. Yes they have exists in ages but they are mostly old, crufty, and made for large businesses.

2 points
VictorLai's avatar
@VictorLai (replying to @derekzhou )
10 months ago

On a related note for a similar market, I think no code platforms like Bubble and Microsoft PowerApps are close to prime-time.

4 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @VictorLai )
10 months ago

Airtable—and Microsoft Access before that—have been paving the road here. Exciting to see how much more people can do without code or with small amounts of code in tools like Bubble!

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @derekzhou )
10 months ago

Oh good call, would love to see that as well. CRMs seem to be getting a bit of new energy, especially in the personal CRM app space with tools like Clay and Monica. Would be awesome to see some of that energy put into the CRM-for-teams space!

1 point
mikestaub's avatar
10 months ago

I think we will see another rise of crypto / web3 startups, as well as startups focused on community building.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @mikestaub )
10 months ago

Would love to see more real uses for crypto gaining mainstream attraction beyond bitcoin-as-digital-gold. Definitely a ton of possibilities that I think have been overshadowed by potential returns of cryptocurrencies.

On Web3: What's web 3.0 to you and what specifically there has you the most excited?

1 point
mikestaub's avatar
@mikestaub (replying to @maguay )
10 months ago

To me, web3 is defined by decentralization and data as private property. I think we could start to see real competition to the old social platforms this year. The Fediverse is reaching maturity and consumers are moving away from big tech.

1 point
ChibuzorObilom's avatar
10 months ago

~ Live audio chat apps
~ Community apps (management, growth etc.)
~ Personal CRM/Contact Management apps
~ Web 3.0 web apps
~ NoCode platforms

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ChibuzorObilom )
10 months ago

We're right there with you on live audio chat apps, after starting Capiche FM last summer as an easier way to stream live audio! Community as well, of course with the Capiche community here! Any other tools in this space you're excited about?

On Web 3.0 web apps: Are you using any apps so far that you think would be considered Web 3.0?

1 point
ChibuzorObilom's avatar
@ChibuzorObilom (replying to @maguay )
10 months ago

I will check Capche FM. I hope it allows android users to participate because most live audio chat apps are iOS only (which is their undoing) because Twitter Spaces will knock them off when it arrives.

My response on Web 3.0 apps is more in line with an observed trend or prediction.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ChibuzorObilom )
10 months ago

Yup, Capiche FM works everywhere—it's built around web streaming and phone calls. Capiche FM calls your phone, then streams your phone call to the web. Would love to hear your thoughts if you give it a try!

1 point
ChibuzorObilom's avatar
@ChibuzorObilom (replying to @maguay )
9 months ago

Hello @maguay I've tried it, but the audio isn't sharp (made me change my mind on the podcast I was about to start - need a permalink change).

Can the audio be better?

Also, can we have more than one podcast to a profile?

1 point
ChibuzorObilom's avatar
10 months ago

Also, Telegram live audio chat is already a huge contender because it is platform agnostic.

1 point
iCanAutomate's avatar
10 months ago

More sophisticated tooling in the data integration space. Commoditization of the data warehouse will also lead to newer vendors in the space as well as give rise to others that build solutions on top of the data warehouse.

Hightouch.io is one such product that is trying to reimagine data integration from the ground up with the data warehouse as the source system for all the data that lives in downstream systems like Intercom/AppCues/Zendesk/etc.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @iCanAutomate )
10 months ago

Interesting, absolutely space for more options. Segment is a fascinating solution though also prohibitively expensive for many use cases.

Hightouch's option to build customer segments via SQL looks great.

1 point
iCanAutomate's avatar
@iCanAutomate (replying to @maguay )
10 months ago

Yeah Hightouch is being built by ex-Segment engineers who helped build Personas by Segment!

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @iCanAutomate )
10 months ago

Wild!

1 point
iCanAutomate's avatar
@iCanAutomate (replying to @maguay )
10 months ago

It is indeed! And exciting!

1 point
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