It's no secret that the tech industry is experiencing unprecedented volatility in 2023. Post-pandemic, many major tech firms are seeing a massive slowdown in growth, and layoffs are soaring. But as the economy continues to rebound, there are opportunities for tech-savvy entrepreneurs to burst onto the scene with their own small biz tech startups.
First, however, you have to have a great tech business idea, and we've got you covered. Whether you're facing downsizing, layoffs, or just tired of working for Big Tech, these 21 best tech business ideas are sure to spark your creativity.
1. Artificial Intelligence
AI is in a major boom phase right now and is commanding buzz across all industries. AI art, chatbots, and content creators are everywhere, and the opportunities are endless.
You might use an existing AI (or create your own) to build software or a new product, or you could capitalize on all the concerns around AI ethics to build something that safeguards against incorrect usage.
2. Virtual Reality
VR has been all the rage in gaming for a while now, and you'll find VR stations in every arcade, mall, and bowling alley in the U.S. But business applications for VR are growing, and you might find a way to start a business using VR for training, onboarding, or remote work.
As personal VR becomes more accessible, there may be even more opportunities to sell VR products and accessories or create VR software.
Blockchain technology is popping up everywhere, and it might be time for you to hop on the bandwagon. Blockchain is a secure, decentralized ledger system that is well-suited to several industries, including healthcare, insurance, real estate, and logistics.
If you have an existing business in one of these fields, you could move relevant operations to blockchain or build a tech business from scratch by creating a blockchain application you can sell to businesses.
4. App Development
Most activity on smartphones and mobile devices takes place within apps. If you've got a great idea for an app of your own, this could be an ideal tech business idea for you.
App usage isn't declining anytime soon, and Americans are always looking for new tools that entertain, solve a problem, or help them accomplish routine tasks quicker and easier. Just keep in mind this is a very saturated market — your idea will need to be strong and unique enough to stand out from the crowd.
5. Digital Marketing
While traditional marketing focuses mainly on print and broadcast media, digital marketing deals in social media, search engines, and URLs. Digital marketing also relies on data collection and analysis to make smart choices and maximize client ROIs.
You could start a digital marketing firm of your own or create a product or software that agencies will be clamoring to add to their tech stack.
6. 3D Printing
3D printers are becoming more affordable and are widely available for personal and professional use. Your business could make 3D-printed materials and sell cute tchotchkes on Etsy or replace parts for specialized equipment directly to manufacturers.
You could also start a business making 3D-printing blueprints, teaching courses or virtual training, or servicing machines.
7. Data Mining
In our society, data equals dollars. Many companies will pay top dollar to have you (or the software you've designed) mine their data and gather key insights. These insights will help companies predict obstacles, identify opportunities, and set themselves on a trajectory for growth.
The pandemic thrust telehealth into the spotlight back in 2020, and now it's become standard operating procedure for many providers. However, implementing telehealth services requires very specific software and technology.
You could build software used by medical providers or become a consultant that helps practices design and implement telehealth systems.
Like telehealth, edtech is another area that has evolved due to the pandemic. With schools shut down and students at home, learning institutions had to pivot and adapt to ensure learners' needs were met.
Edtech has continued to grow in the following years, and there are many opportunities for software development, apps, training systems, and much more.
Financial technology has been around for a while now, but demand has not diminished. Most banks and financial institutions offer their own proprietary applications, but other opportunities exist in this space, such as creating a budgeting app or financial management software.
11. Robots as a Service
Just like AI, robotics are becoming more popular, and the industry is on the rise. But breaking into robotics is often prohibitively expensive for many businesses. Enter robots as a service, or RaaS (just like software as a service, or SaaS).
RaaS allows businesses to lease robotic equipment and use a cloud-based subscription service to manage it. If you have the capability to build the equipment, or if you have the cash to purchase it, this could be an extremely lucrative business idea.
Everybody's talking about chatbots these days, and more specifically, about ChatGPT. This AI chatbot is revolutionizing the industry, but there's still room to get your piece of the pie.
More and more companies are seeking ways to automate customer service, so you could create something that fills a need within a certain industry, niche, or location.
13. Startup Incubator
Startup statistics don't lie. Yes, they face plenty of obstacles, but they aren't always doomed to fail. With the right support and the right technology, they can soar. That's where you come in. If you create a business as a startup incubator, you can utilize technology to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
While most of the major startup incubators in the U.S. are nonprofits, you can build a smaller-scale incubator — perhaps one that focuses on microbusinesses, influencer businesses, or any other niche that interests you.
14. Augmented Reality
AR is a lot like VR, but instead of a totally immersive experience, AR simply changes the world around us (like a Snapchat filter). There are many business applications for AR, and it's often used as a marketing technique. Your business could focus on AR marketing or AR development for brands.
15. Cloud Services
Almost all data is now stored in the cloud, but some businesses struggle to understand how to acquire, manage, and protect that data storage. Starting a cloud-based business has the potential to be a major money-maker, as more and more business will shift their data storage to the cloud in coming years.
16. Video Game Development
If you're creative and technologically skilled in equal measure, video game development could be a great choice for you. Even if you have a fantastic idea but no knowledge of coding or game development, you can hire someone to bring your vision to life. You might also find opportunities to earn money with video games in other ways, like starting a streaming channel on Twitch or YouTube.
17. Smart Home Tech
Connected homes are becoming more common, with everything from TVs to lightbulbs and outlets easily controlled via an app. You could build a product-based business or design software that helps smart home technology interact smoothly and seamlessly.
Non-fungible tokens are more than a funny name — they're digital assets that can bring in serious income. NFTs are blockchain-based, unique assets that cannot be replicated, so when someone buys one, it's the only one of its kind in existence.
NFTs can be works of art or even pieces of virtual real estate. They are able to be bought, sold, and traded, so you can start a business as an NFT investor — the sky is truly the limit.
19. Time-Tracking Software
Employers are becoming more savvy and working to ensure employees are accurately tracking and managing their time. Cloud-based time-tracking software is growing, and the need is strong, especially due to the rise of remote work.
You could start a business by developing a time-tracking software or app, or you could provide a service to help businesses choose, implement, and manage a tool of their choice.
20. Real Estate Tech
In our global society, old-school real estate doesn't quite cut it anymore. With the rise of remote work and digital nomads, many people are realizing they can live anywhere they choose. And as other major purchases, like car buying, become increasingly digitized, you can expect real estate to do the same.
If you have an idea of how to bring real estate into the modern era, you could start a lucrative business by creating a 3D or AI tour app or an automated rental platform.
Think about all the times you've been asked to input your personal information online, and you'll probably understand the increasing need for cybersecurity.
Hacking, phishing, and ransom schemes are on the rise, so if you have IT experience, cybersecurity may be an excellent business choice. If you don't have the skills yourself, you can still build a business with a team of contracted IT pros.
FAQs About Starting a Tech Business
Here are some of the top questions about tech businesses:
How Do I Start a Small Tech Startup?
Start a small tech startup with a great idea, a solid business plan, and the right startup financing. Use the resources and skills you already have, and scale up from there. Decide whether you'll work on your own as a solopreneur or if you need to create a team to support your goals.
Once you've got a plan, consider forming a legal business entity such as an LLC to protect your assets and gain the most benefits.
What Are the Most Successful Tech Startups?
The most successful tech startups include Apple, Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber, to name a few. Tech companies in the share economy are among the most successful, as are social media platforms.
Beyond the big names, the most successful startups in tech are those that have the strongest ideas, the greatest demand, and the lowest barrier to entry.
What Tech Business Makes the Most Money?
The tech business that makes the most money currently is Apple, followed closely by Alphabet (Google) and Amazon. But there are also plenty of small and mid-level tech companies that are growing and thriving, like Evernote, Redfin, Upwork, and Blue Apron.
As a new tech startup, you can certainly take lessons from their successes and failures and apply them to your own tech business. Be sure you're also setting yourself up to save and earn by taking advantage of business incentives for startups.
Can I Start a Tech Company With No Experience?
You can absolutely start a tech company with no experience. It certainly helps to have a background in the tech field you're choosing to enter, but with the right business acumen (and steely determination), you can turn nearly any idea into a thriving company.
If you aren't skilled in tech, make sure you surround yourself with people who are and who can help guide you and support you as you launch your business. Be sure to also take advantage of learning opportunities, whether it's online courses or peer-to-peer education.
What Comes After the Idea? Action
Got a fresh idea for your future tech business? Now's the time to form a legal structure and show the tech world you mean business. An LLC is cost-effective and flexible, and it provides you with the liability protection you need. With Incfile, you can form an LLC for $0 + your state fee. We handle all the paperwork, so you can get your tech startup started right.
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).