What can we expect from the generation that grew up watching more Snapchat and pro gamers than cartoons and pro athletes? Plenty of people will speculate on what the future holds for Gen Z, based on the habits we witness in them daily.
First, let me clarify that this is not an article about generalizing an entire generation – saying they lack focus, are self-centered, and stuck on their phone. Group generalization is just not a good practice and usually wrong.
Rather, I want to check out some of the first Gen Z entrepreneurs. And predict what runaway companies might be created by this generation.
Gen Z Entrepreneurs
What’s so unique about this generation is that they were given platforms to start businesses at an earlier age than ever. Because adults are perplexed by social media, there’s a fascination that is created when a teen finds success on social media.
As a result, we’ve all seen stories of teen entrepreneurs on the nightly news or even national syndication.
You might be familiar with the 16 year olds and 11 year olds becoming sneaker tycoons, launching fidget spinner brands, or becoming ambassadors to the large companies (like the NFL) on behalf of Gen Z .
I’m not even going to attempt to list off the numerous YouTubers, ASMRtists, TikTok and Instagram creators that are bringing in advertising checks and brand deals because there are so many. Seriously, just ask any teen for their favorites.
Content creation comes natural to Gen Z, which makes starting businesses and building media around it all the more accessible.
Content marketing is Gen Z’s bread-and-butter.
There are a number of Made for Instagram brands created on the back of content marketing through social media. HoopSwagg is a million-dollar flamboyant sock brand. Slashed by Tia is a clothing brand that has caught the eye of many celebrities. Likewise, Nudestix is a makeup brand that has gained crazy momentum and now sold in Ulta and Sephora.
All of them are teen-led ventures.
This natural fit within content marketing and social storytelling will be Gen Z’s backbone when they come of age to start more complex companies – whether that be software or service-based companies.
What trends will Gen Z ride to billion-dollar valuations?
Gen Z Company Trends
Culture operates in cycles. A value that adults are passionate about will either be taken further to an extreme or the opposite way by their kids.
Some of the cultural values that are in question:
With their entire lives logged on social networks, this generation, more than any other will have to address the repercussions of a life lived publicly. This leaves ample opportunity for a service to solve this privacy breach.
Evervault – founded by 19-year-old Shane Curran – recently made national news after raising $3.2 million for their API that makes data privacy the foundation of new apps being built. This is just one of many to come in the Gen Z-led privacy company space.
Gen Z hasn’t experienced community in the traditional way. Their communities exist(ed) on YouTube, Club Penguin, Webkinz, Fortnite, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and more.
Where Millennials changed the sense of ownership and value by going heavy into subscriptions. I think Gen Z will have the same impact on community – building further upon the digital communities popularized by Twitch, YouTube, Snapchat, etc. These communities may be in the metaverse or out in the real-world.
We’re still more than 5 years away from seeing the full evolution of the personas that played Minecraft, then Call of Duty, then Fortnite, then into the working world. And there’s really no telling which direction they’ll head. But each of these digital communities in many ways helped raise these kids.
Consumerism has had a long reign in this country. Abundance of THINGS has been the mainstay.
With minimalist living and dynamic homes, along with the tiny home phenomenon, it seems to me that we’re shifting away from abundance of THINGS and going toward an abundance of EXPERIENCE.
This is related, in many ways, to the environmental problems we face.
Gen Z will bring about product companies with an eco-friendly focus, such as Nohbo which makes single-use, plastic free shampoo. (Started by a Gen Z, Shark Tank founder).
We’ve chosen globalization in favor of localization for many decades. Frankly, I’m unsure of the direction that this value is heading. Related to community, there’s a gap to fill the localization void.
Nannies by Noa is a great example. It’s a New York City nanny placement company (founded by a Gen Z’er) that finds fun, city-savvy nannies.
Gen Z is a natural fit in entertainment. With the vastest databases of consumable entertainment in their reach, they understand what it takes to make content and stories that stand out.
I’m interested to see entertainment companies led by Gen Z.
I won’t pretend to have the answers for what exactly will be the first multi-billion-dollar, Gen Z-led companies. But I’m watching the trends and keeping an open mind.
All the generational problems we decree about Gen Z are the result of the world we created before them. Most of the crap told about my generation, the Millennial, doesn’t describe me in the slightest. And I’m sure you feel the same way about your generational description.
Ultimately, the goal is to remember that we’ll one day pass the torch onto this generation. Try and view the world through their lens. Exercise some mental transplantation. And help them in their journey to improve the world.