What's with all the SaaS? And Nootropics, the so called Smart Drugs

Over the past few months I’ve ventured through daily releases of new products that just didn’t seem to slow down. But that’s awesome, each of these creations foster innovation, and show off the kind of creativity and perseverance you only see happening in the agile startup industry.

I don’t want to discuss startup cultures nor review individual products here – you can check them out for yourself on ProductHunt. Instead let me share with you some of the trends and patterns I’ve noticed.

Let’s start with the Nootropics because who doesn’t want to give their brains a boost!

man-will-not-wait-giurgea

Image source: www.nootroo.com

Nootropics anyone?

These so-called “smart drugs” seem to be making their way around the tech community. Before you ask – yes they’re perfectly legal, and mostly non-prescription.

Do they work? There’s some research to show they are beneficial, but it mostly depends on the company making the product and seem to show varying effects on different people. Regardless though, it’s a trend. Just recently Andreessen Horowitz led a $2 million seed investment round in Nootrobox, a manufacturer of these Nootropic stacks.

Nootropics by definition are a class of cognitive enhancing supplements that are meant to improve concentration and boost performance. They are meant to be safe for long-term use and have little to no side effects. So they basically improve brain function without any of the negative effects typically associated with brain stimulants. Who wouldn’t want that!?

Limitless & Nootropics

It’s definitely ok to be skeptic about these types of “smart-drugs”, I am too. But I’ve ordered a stack from Nootrobox to test out. (If you want to see an objective review subscribe for my future posts).

Onto the next trend:

It’s all about the SaaS

Software as a Service tools are getting way too trendy. You can now find a service or API to outsource almost anything for your app or product. Whether it’s filament.io to tell you what to blog about, EasyRedir to redirect URLs, Figma for design collaboration, or Motion.ai for artificial intelligence – all these tools provide some very unique and specialized service, for a price. If you look hard enough you can find a combination of *somethings *that’ll almost do anything!

Seriously though. Isn’t it too many?

One could always make the argument. But as I see it they create new and rather bespoke tools that usually always fill a gap in the market. Whether these market gaps are big enough for these startups to survive and become profitable in the long run is the real question.

Only a very few startups (<10%) cross the thick line between a meh *user-base* **to a truly successful business. But the ones that do succeed go on to build a defining user culture and typically expand their product to provide a platform of features to stay competitive. One very good example that comes to mind is Intercom, which is a suit of products for websites to communicate with customers  – covering everything from user acquisition to customer support. And it’s a trend that’s almost unbeatable, if you’ve ever noticed a blue chat icon on the bottom right hand side of a webpage – that’s almost certainly Intercom!

Intercom

What’s with all the “chat” apps?

This is another one of those strong trends I noticed (but didn’t mention on the title). Staying connected has become a necessity in our fast paced, mobile driven age. Whether you’re a dad, student, grandma or CEO there’s alway people to keep in touch with and possibly a few too many apps to do it with.

Tribe

Just recently I saw the release of Roger, Tribe, Chatbaka and might I even add Doctor on Demand. All apps that connect people, whether it’s friends to friends through a walkie talkie style video messenger or connecting doctors to patients via video chat; most of these apps are competing over a single or overlapping target market, and they’re all pretty great! So who’s winning? Probably WhatsApp, but there’s definitely a place for the more exquisite versions of these new video/audio chat apps.


So those were some of the trends I wanted to share through this long overdue post, but the past few months have had a ton of more awesome stuff happening – Google open sourcing their machine learning library TensorFlow being one of them. Try to keep up, the world’s changing and none of us know every bit about it.

Did you find this article useful?
I write regularly about design, science, tech and all things I find interesting. Get my essays delivered right to your inbox by subscribing.