It sounds futuristic, like flying cars and holograms are finally upon us, and certainly looks futuristic from what we’ve seen so far… but is anyone else still wondering what exactly the Metaverse is? And, more importantly, what does it mean for startups?
What IS the Metaverse?
Trying to explain what this is without using high-tech synonyms strung together in a sentence that makes you dizzy just from reading it is quite difficult. So, instead, take this explanation…
In the words of Mark Zuckerberg himself: “We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, we’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are.” Which all starts with Facebook, or as it will be known soon, Meta.
It’s going to be, he hopes, another iteration of the internet where users can build 3D, virtual worlds for themselves, which they’ll access through augmented and virtual reality headsets. Whilst versions of this kind of exist already, we’ve seen it in the gaming world, the Metaverse will be a more sophisticated version of whatever virtual environment the user would like.
What does this mean for startups?
The Metaverse probably feels like a buzzword right now. Another trend that sounds too good to be true, promising innovation but never quite delivering. However, that may not be the case.
Blending the physical world with a digital one is an exciting concept. It’s something that’s been promised for years, and with our ever-improving technology, it may finally be coming to fruition. Rather than reaching millions of people in the digital spaces we have now, there is possibility for startups, and people alike, to reach billions with the Metaverse. This is from the computer science side alone, as in recent years we have seen advancement in bandwidth, software, and platforms.
The big concept for the Metaverse is that it will become the place for users to experience, interact, shop, game, and attend events – all within the comfort of their own homes (and VR headsets). As of now, we’re all doing these things by looking at a screen, or going to these places in real life, bringing limitations for startups just starting out.
It’ll all be in one very convenient place, making the opportunities for what startups can do far wider than they are now.
The space for Crypto and blockchain startups will be larger as they will allow for all types of payment and commerce in the Metaverse. Startups can go even further with blockchain by giving users a consistent image throughout each element of the Metaverse, like hopping from game to game or environment to environment.
Online shopping will become even more immersive. We all know that ads track what we look at online and conveniently advertise products which fit the bill. It’s becoming scarily accurate, sometimes you only need to think about a product and next thing you know, it’s right there in your Instagram feed. With the Metaverse, that will switch to what users are building in their own virtual world. Just think, you could be the next big thing in someone’s Metaverse environment…
Gaming is the easiest way into the Metaverse at the moment, as virtual reality aspects have existed for years. Games like Second Life and World of Warcraft have that online environment and immersivity down to a T. Rapper Lil Nas X even held his own virtual concert in Roblox this year and Chipotle have announced their virtual restaurant.
The nature of startups mean they’ll have an advantage when it comes to thriving in the Metaverse. Compared to large corporations, startups have the edge of adaptation and iterating quickly to see the best results as the landscape of startup-land never stays the same for too long.
The Metaverse has the potential to be great. It could work with the creative and innovative nature of startups and allow them to thrive and take over the world (as they rightly should!) if they can deliver on these amazing promises of a virtual environment that is unique to each user. It’s certainly an exciting time and an exciting concept to be thinking about!