Your Next Big Thing: Survey says

Written by ProfitGuide Staff

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Carol Stephenson
Richard Ivey School of Business
London, Ont.

HOT OPP: Virtual secretaries

“The baby boomers will be retiring soon, and retiring executives will miss their assistants. So, there will be an opportunity to offer a virtual online assistant service to this group. The virtual assistant would serve maybe 15 to 20 retired executives, and would do things like book appointments, make travel arrangements and send out invitations. As well, retiring boomers will still want to remain interested in and connected to society, so there will be an opportunity to offer intellectual or educational experiences. Not formal schooling, but perhaps someone to organize a peer group and lead discussions on topical issues such as income trusts or clean air.”

Laurence Lewin
President and COO
La Senza Corp.

HOT OPP: Translation tools

“We need a universal, real-time translation device. I envision it as iPod-sized, with a small box you wear on your hip and a tiny earphone that would allow each businessperson at a meeting (for example, a Mandarin-speaker, a German-speaker and an English-speaker) to hear what is being said in his own language. Because the device would allow people to understand each other and prevent misinterpretation, it would do wonders for the global economy and also facilitate communication at a social level. It would be bigger than iPod. We’re seeing the very beginnings of this in Internet translation sites.”

Mark Breslin
Founder and CEO
Yuk Yuk’s Inc.

HOT OPP: Security Services

“It’s become a much more violent and apocalyptic world, so I think we’ll see an increase in demand for personal-security products and services — anything that puts a barrier between you and the hostile world. This includes home-alarm systems, bodyguards, security guards or siren-type devices. There’ll also be opportunities providing content, including advertising, for communications media. With the proliferation of platforms — radio, TV, film, websites, blogs and video sites — there will be an increased need for professionals who can create video, text, images, commercials and marketing campaigns, and for those who have a mass-marketing vision.”

Victoria Sopik
President and CEO
Kids & Company Ltd.
Thornhill, Ont.

HOT OPP: Services for young families

“There are no longer extended families or a babysitter on every corner to help with parents’ needs. So, there are opportunities to provide products or services that support young families. For example, parenting courses or concierge services such as picking up birthday presents or dry cleaning. An even better idea is to form a strategic partnership with another child-centred business so parents can do one-stop shopping. In our business [daycare], for instance, I wouldn’t start making lasagnas, but I might pair with someone who does. I think parents would buy them when picking up their child from daycare, which would save a trip to the grocery store.”

Daniel Lamarre
President and CEO
Cirque du Soleil

HOT OPP: Entertainment for the elderly

“For many years, entertainment companies have been marketing to youth, focusing on creating shows that appeal to them. They have forgotten about people of a mature age. But as the population ages, older people will represent a huge market segment. There isn’t live entertainment targeted to mature people and the elderly yet. If I were starting a business, I’d research what entertainment is important to that generation and then mount a revival.”

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