If I hadn’t just bought this brand new desktop computer, I’d throw it out the window.

Thousands of people are missing the opportunities at hand right here, right now, because of the coronavirus pandemic, and they have absolutely NOTHING to do with high-tech disinfecting robots or the next medical breakthrough.

Frankly, those “investment opportunities” are shallow.

They have a short shelf life, and once we turn the corner on this pandemic, they’ll take a backseat for good.

The coronavirus pandemic revealed holes in 4 sectors that are poised for improvement (Read: And Investment Opportunity!) in the coming years.

  • Currency
  • Real-Time Translation
  • Travel
  • Education

THESE are where you need to be paying close attention.

These sectors are not just responding to the pandemic itself – which has a shelf life, no matter how much it may seem like it doesn’t – they’re responding to the effects of the pandemic.

Businesses that connect people and improve the way we can interact globally are where the real investment opportunity of this pandemic lies.

 

A World Connected By Innovation

 

We live in a connected world–it’s a constant phenomenon, not a trend. 

The “connectivity” of the world will continue to grow for years to come… long after the dust of our current situation settles.

Gaps are being revealed by the pandemic and these are the industries where the real opportunities lie. 

 

Currency

 

If you want to travel on vacation or start a business abroad, you will likely need to exchange money.

This can seem trivial for some — just change some USD at the bank and you’re good to go. 

In reality, currency can be a barrier that prevents people from gaining access to many things. 

Imagine that you run a business with workers across the globe. Sure you can pay them in dollars, but banks and intermediaries like PayPal charge exorbitant fees to change those bucks.

Now, imagine you run an e-commerce business and want to sell internationally. If your merchant account doesn’t allow you to deal with other currencies, you may need to enlist the aid of a payment processor.

Even Amazon will charge you a fee for paying in certain currencies. On top of that, your bank may give extra charges for the exchange. 

Long story short, difficulties in currency exchange limit many businesses and cost people time and money. In our world of frequent travel, remote workers, and international collaboration, it seems like a better solution is in order. 

Changing How Currency is Exchanged

 

Luckily, some startups see this struggle and have stepped in to disrupt banking and make currency exchange simple.

TransferWise is a London-based startup that has raised over $772 million in funding with its simplified currency exchange platform. This startup lets expats, international students, and businesses move money globally without hidden charges. 

WeSwap is the first person-to-person currency exchange tool for travelers. Instead of going through financial institutions, you get money from real people.

If I’m an American looking for Euros, the WeSwap app matches me with a European looking for USD and we make the trade. WeSwap takes one transparent fee, and we go happily on our way.

These solutions are melting borders and opening doors. Think post-pandemic here, when normal life resumes. The time to find opportunities like this is now… when it’s furthest from most investors’ mind. 

The easier it is to travel, work, and buy internationally, the more accessible the world becomes.

As an angel, being able to spot startups making this kind of impact is one big key to success. The 6 Sectors ebook can be used as your roadmap for finding your next big win.  

 

Real-time Translation

 

It has long been a dream of science fiction that technology can enable instant communication across languages. Today, we are getting pretty darn close.

Waverly Labs has one of the first systems for accurate, real-time translation in conversation. By wearing an earbud and microphone you can speak to almost anyone in the world. The company’s app, called Ambassador, has three modes, Listen, Lecture, and Converse.

In Listen mode, anyone speaking within 8 feet will be processed and played back in the language of your choice. With Lecture mode, anything you say will be translated and played through your recipient’s earbud. Finally, the Converse mode allows up to four users to link together to have a seamless conversation.

To date, Waverly Labs has earned over $6 million in funding.

 

Information In Every Language

 

One of the best ways to fix language barriers on the internet is through translation guided by machine learning

Unbabel uses machine learning AI paired with human language experts. Once AI automatically translates the text, human translators double-check to ensure it’s high-quality.

The Unbabel app works with more than 70 languages. The program can be integrated into WordPress, Salesforce, Zendesk, and more.

Unbabel has garnered over $90 million in funding and is already serving the likes of Microsoft, Under Armour, Pinterest, and others to translate content.

Speaking of… we believe the next Uber, Microsoft or Under Armour-caliber startup will come from one of the sectors we outline in our ebook.

 

Travel

 

The global tourism market is larger than ever (until recently, of course). 

Unfortunately, many people have reservations about traveling to certain areas. Fear of the unknown, ignorance or real danger can prevent travelers from even considering certain countries. 

Instead of venturing off the beaten path, most tourists will choose one of a handful of destinations. Much of the world goes untouched and untapped. Beautiful cultures with so much to give are overlooked. 

Luckily, there are a few startups making travel to even the most exotic locations reasonable and safe.

 

Making Travel Safe and Accessible

 

Travel can be a dangerous endeavor for women. Going to a foreign country alone, for example, isn’t recommendable in many places. Rather than letting this fact push women out of tourism, one startup decided to change it. 

Girls LOVE Travel is a social network for empowering women and other marginalized travelers. In this community, members can request help, find up-to-date resources, connect to other travelers and more. By working together, sharing, networking, and helping others, travel can be safe and inclusive.

The next startup, SafetyWing, is the first-ever international travel insurance platform. SafetyWing was made specifically for entrepreneurs and remote workers who travel or live abroad. 

With this, millions of people who do their business internationally can remain covered medically. Getting sick on a business trip won’t set you back. If something happens, stipulations and sub-clauses won’t prevent you from getting compensation.

 

Try It Before You Fly It

 

Another exciting breakthrough in the tourism industry is the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and immersive video to attract customers.

Companies can give you a full-on virtual experience of — let’s say — your hotel in Guam before you ever book it. You can then scroll through a travel company or travel influencer’s page and see 360-degree videos of local attractions.

Tourism companies are embracing this technology, but startups are creating it. They use special cameras to capture the high-resolution, 360-degree footage and editors turn it into an experience that can sell tickets.

This takes some of the doubts and reservations away for tourists. You can know exactly what you’re getting before you buy it.

 

Education

 

There’s no doubt that technology is improving education. Heck, the tech space makes up a big portion of the startups we believe will win in 2020. 

Connecting schools and families to the internet creates incredible learning potential. Online lesson plans or simple educational videos are invaluable resources to schools in the developing world. 

For higher education and professional training, online classes, simulations, and video mentoring have allowed many fields to flourish under even the most limited circumstances. 

The more innovation that brings modern practices and tools to educational programs everywhere, the more connected and humane our world becomes.

 

Connecting Students Everywhere

 

One startup, PenPal Schools, has won many awards for its platform that brings children together. 

This is a modern take on the classic pen-pal relationship. PenPal Schools allows students from over 170 countries to talk, collaborate, and learn together. A virtual classroom acts as the meeting ground between students and teachers. Messages are monitored and data encrypted, while children learn about reading, writing, digital citizenship, and social and emotional subjects. 

With PenPal Schools, the unique skills and experiences of students are shared. Through this sharing, children on the platform get a global education.

 

Final Thoughts

 

We are more comfortable than ever traveling, working from home, or speaking to strangers on the other side of the world — and this is an amazing thing.

Innovation is leading us towards a connected and open world. New methods of communication, transportation, and education will continue to bring us closer together. 

Angel investors should keep an eye on anything that breaks down barriers between us. Anything that connects the developing world to new technology is bound to bring in big bucks. There are huge, untapped markets everywhere just waiting for the right invention or idea to come along and make life better.

While angels fund these startups and reap profits, they shrink oceans and mountains, making the world smarter, stronger, and more inclusive. 

Best Angel Investments of 2020 ebook: Be the first to learn which verticals are ripe for massive breakouts in 2020—and the easiest way to get your cut of the action.

 

Author: Chris Graebe

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