2018 Angel Investment Forecast and Monthly Start-up Challenge

The Gigaom founding team is made up of lifetime entrepreneurs, so no surprise, we are super bullish about 2018.
One theme is constant: bright and ambitious entrepreneurs create new opportunities everyday by mapping rapidly advancing innovation to today’s challenges.
The theme is so powerful that is often hard to imagine what new businesses will be born. As investors, it is important to suspend disbelief and dream with the founders about their improved world view. What truth do they see that isn’t fully grasped by the general population? What does success look like if everything goes right?
In 2017, the exponential force of entrepreneurship continued to expand around the globe as “start-up know-how” continues to be democratized by blogs, conferences, and most importantly, by larger exits ($100M+) all over the world, which recycle gains into local start-up ecosystems. Successful local entrepreneurs inspire new founders on what is possible in their area. Additionally, they mentor and invest in these new entrepreneurs and start a powerful reinforcing flywheel.
At Gigaom, we plan to showcase a start-up each month from around the world that is harnessing accelerating technology in new ways to have a big impact on society.
We hope you share our optimism for 2018 and look forward to hearing from you. 
David Hehman, Start-up & VC Editor
To submit your startup to Gigaom’s Monthly Startup Challenge, please use this form.

Survey shows surprise decline in US startups run by young people

Heard about all those young people who drop out of college to build their own business? Turns out there are far fewer of them than you might think. Contrary to popular perceptions about tech and millennials, the number of people under 30 who own companies has fallen to a 20-year low.

According to new Federal Reserve data parsed by the Wall Street Journal (paywall):

Roughly 3.6% of households headed by adults younger than 30 owned stakes in private companies … That compares with 10.6% in 1989—when the central bank began collecting standard data on Americans’ incomes and net worth—and 6.1% in 2010.

Meanwhile, the number of young people as a percentage of all entrepreneurs is also shrinking. According to a separate study cited by the Journal, only 22.7 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2013 were aged 20–34, compared to 26.4 percent the year before.

The story suggests that various factors are driving the dearth of young entrepreneurs; these include banks making fewer loans to small businesses and a lousy labor market that has deprived millennials of job skills. In turn, young people may have become more risk-averse, and have less confidence to embark on their own.

The overall picture would be brighter in the event that more older people were picking up the slack by launching startups later in life. That appears unlikely, however, given other numbers:

Overall, the U.S. “startup rate” — new firms as a portion of all firms — fell by nearly half between 1978 and 2011, according to an analysis by Mr. Litan [of the Brookings Institute] and his research partner, economist Ian Hathaway.

Korean startups gear up for the spotlight

South Korea is building a start-up ecosystem, hoping to create some of the innovation that turned Silicon Valley into technology capital. The latest step is a two-day conference next week called beLaunch, which is equipping local entrepreneurs with important lessons and getting them to think big.

5 New York startups to watch

New York’s start-up community relived its fondest science fair memories Thursday with the inaugural NY Tech Day, a showcase for 180 start-ups that demonstrated some of the breadth and depth of the local tech scene. The event packed in more than 4,500 attendees.

What’s love got to do with it? For startups, everything

After trying to become a social network, the team behind Fab.com pivoted a year ago toward their current model as a design site because it was something the founders were passionate about. It’s another reminder that passion matters and can be what determines success.

Wahooly, the Klout and Kickstarter hybrid, opens to startups

Wahooly has created a group of 25,000 influential testers and is now opening the doors to startups to apply to engage this group. Startups will create testing groups of 5,000 to 8,000 people, who will share in a pool of equity ranging from 4–6 percent.

Fast Society exits group messaging race, plots new app

Fast Society, a group messaging app that competed against the likes of GroupMe, WhatsApp, Kik and others, has announced it will end its messaging service on Wednesday but has plans to launch a new product called Cameo early in the new year.

AmEx lures digital commerce startups with $100M fund

American Express wants to have a stake in the next big digital commerce start-up and it’s establishing a new $100 million fund to make sure it doesn’t miss out. It’s another sign that 162-year-old American Express is anxious to keep evolving.