The first wave of AR startups offering smart glasses is now over, with a few exceptions.
Google acquired North this week for an undisclosed sum. The Canadian company had raised nearly $ 200 million, but the release of its Focals 2.0 smart glasses has been cancelled, a bittersweet end for its soft landing.
Many AR startups before North made huge promises and raised huge amounts of capital before flaring out in a similarly dramatic fashion.
The technology was almost there in a lot of cases, but the real issue was that the stakes to beat the major players to market were so high that many entrants pushed out boring, general consumer products. In a race to be everything for everybody, the industry relied on nascent developer platforms to do the dirty work of building their early use cases, which contributed heavily to nonexistent user adoption.
A key error of this batch was thinking that an AR glasses company was hardware-first, when the reality is that the missing value is almost entirely centered on missing first-party software experiences. To succeed, the next generation of consumer AR glasses will have to nail this.
App ecosystems alone don’t create product-market fit
While the situation is gradually getting better after the coronavirus, companies, businesses, and institutions are still reeling from the damage it caused. There are 22 tech academies in Amsterdam that have trained over 3188 students till date. A new report by StartupAmsterdam 18 of the 22 academies participated to shine a light on how coronavirus impacted them. As one would expect, the numbers tell a story of how Amsterdam’s tech academies are going through tough times and what they are doing to make things better.
Academies under financial stress due to the coronavirus
With lockdown in effect due to the coronavirus, multiple businesses were severely affected. Similarly, Startup Amsterdam’s report reveals that about 83 percent of academies experienced financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak. One of the main financial stressors for tech academies has to be the reduction in tuition payments, which affected 78 percent of academies. This was caused as fewer applications came in, courses were cancelled, students dropped out, existing students faced difficulties in landing jobs.
In addition, staff salaries and facilities expenses strained the tech academies as well. “For 78% of academies, tuition fees are the main source of income and decreasing course registrations affected the financial prosperity of 60% of participants. One-third of academies had to downsize or layoff their workforce and cut down on operational costs,” the report states.
New issues crop up while old problems are exacerbated due to COVID-19
Tech academies of Amsterdam are facing new issues due to COVID-19 and some old problems have exacerbated as well. As per the report, 89 percent of academies are currently facing the challenge of placing junior professionals at companies. Many companies halted their hiring process due to the pandemic, and this is most likely one of the reasons behind the problem. Additionally, adopting a virtual teaching environment has resulted in lowered student interest. About 83 percent of academies reported facing difficulties keeping students motivated.
While virtual classrooms seem to be a good alternative, 78 percent of academies believe it has impacted the quality of their classes and the number of new applications. Furthermore, even with lowered admissions and revenue generation, paying employee salaries was of the least concern. However, it was still an issue for 67 percent of respondents.
There are also some additional challenges cited by academies such as the need to reduce course prices and finding the right tools and resources for online teaching platforms. It is worth noting that 94 percent of academies were forced to restructure different aspects of their business models in order to adapt to current circumstances. For example, changing the teaching environment and pricing.
Taking action to tackle challenges
Even though the coronavirus drastically affected Amsterdam’s tech academies, they buckled up to tackle the challenges they faced. First off was switching to online courses since students can’t attend classes in-person. They reduced costs, including wages, cash flow, and operational expenses, and some even had to downsize their teams. Many academies introduced new products, lowered course prices and/or the number of courses they offered. Improving offers to partner companies and postponing new courses were also some of the measures.
The Dutch government announced a number of measures to help companies combat the coronavirus crisis. The report states that 89 percent of academies were aware of the new measures and 50 percent applied for at least one of the measures while 50 percent didn’t apply at all.
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I was having a job and then moved out as an Entrepreneur and now own a successful business. I am also starting up with my own digital products and I usually tend to work 14+ hours.
Now it seems that this is eating me up and I need to take some time out for myself. What are your thoughts? How do you manage?