ENTREPRENEUR | Hey, It Could Happen
Entrepreneurial predictions for 2021
Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.
A new year is upon us, thank goodness. Since making New Year’s predictions is second only in popularity to New Year’s resolutions, here’s a look into the entrepreneurial crystal ball for 2021.
After leaving office, former President Donald Trump launches his own TV channel, Trump TV — “All Trump, All the Time.” With its star attraction now on another network, Fox News sees its viewership plummet, and is forced to change its format; trading on its name, it focuses exclusively on news and commentary from the animal kingdom.
As the government breaks up monopolies like Facebook and Twitter, many new social media sites debut. Each focuses on a particular political ideology, so that people never have to encounter an opposing point of view. Among them are “Demo-graphics,” a video site for liberals; “Mr. and Ms. Right,” a dating site for conservatives; and ZZZ-Anon, a conspiracy chat room whose basic premise is that everyone is asleep, and all of this is just a dream/nightmare.
Libertarians attempt to start a platform for people who share their point of view, but are unable to get the necessary government permits.
Elon Musk tests positive for coronavirus 73 times and negative 72 times, meaning he finally contracts COVID-19. In response, Musk develops his own vaccine. While the formula remains secret, primary ingredients appear to be lithium and Mars dust.
Locally, after concluding his stellar career with a Super Bowl championship, Drew Brees dives deeply into entrepreneurism. Among his new ventures are a wind farm (Brees Energy), an air conditioning firm (Summer Brees), and — with demand still exceeding supply — a new line of toilet tissue (Gentle Brees). He also purchases and brings back to New Orleans the Zephyrs baseball team.
With Carnival largely canceled, local Mardi Gras mask makers generate new business by producing colorful virus protection masks. Costume makers hang in there by focusing on gloves and custom-designed hazmat suits. Float builders team up with local musicians to construct dozens of new traveling bandstands, even equipping them with electronic fast-pay technology so listeners can provide tips by simply tapping their smart phones on the sides of the floats.
Other local entrepreneurs also respond to meeting needs in a COVID-19 world. The new cocktail delivery service “Shaken Not Stirred” (a nod to the condition of city streets) is highly successful. A consortium of local restaurants throw their money into a pot to establish a similar service for food delivery, appropriately named “Gumbo on Wheels.”
Also new on the scene is a company called “Hair There and Everywhere” that sends suitably masked and gloved barbers and stylists on house calls.
A popular new product is wearable innertubes measuring 6 feet in diameter, to ensure social distancing in public settings; the most in-demand model is designed to look like a king cake. Another hot seller is the “Sippy Mask” with its built-in straw. Also in the mask category, a high-tech version uses smart phone-like dictation technology to flash the words spoken by the mask-wearer on a miniature forehead display crawl. Unfortunately, glitches in the technology lead to multiple misunderstandings and even fights, and the product is relegated to use only by WWE.
Several entrepreneurs seize opportunities created by the continuation of work-from-home policies. T-shirts that look like suit fronts are a big seller. “Home cubicles” recreate that unique workplace environment, including built-in speakers that play distracting noises like co-worker chatter and phones with annoying ring tones going off every three minutes. Most popular of all is a service that enables people to video themselves staring at a monitor screen for hours, then use portions of it to give the illusion of their participation in endless Zoom meetings while they nap or accept deliveries from Shaken Not Stirred.
How many of these prognostications will come true? That’s hard to predict, but given what happened last year, don’t bet against any of them!