It’s that time of year again. In between wrestling with tinsel, trying to say no to another mince pie, and making sure the Christmas shopping is sorted, we’re all trying to find some space to think about 2017.

And if you are a student or soon-to-be graduate, what comes next is very likely to be top of your agenda.

Well we have news for you. Forget trying to secure a place on a blue-chip graduate scheme in 2017: the new destination of choice for university leavers is a startup company.

Startups represent one of the biggest business opportunities in Britain at the moment, with over £250 million in loans being awarded by the government to small businesses since 2012. Indeed, students themselves are getting in on the action, with around 50,000 new businesses per year coming from university communities – 15% of those before the individual has even graduated. With over a quarter of students expressing interest in starting their own business, and over 600,000 startup ventures spawning each year, savvy students are spurning the corporate route in favour of something a little more creative.

With this entrepreneurial spirit looking set to soar in 2017 – and enterprise education making substantial strides in the classroom – here are three startup trends that educators and budding entrepreneurs should be keeping an eye on in the new year:


Enterprise is no longer about the hard sell. People are tired of being sold to and can tell advertorial from editorial a mile off. Any sense that a company is simply trying to close a sale and the customer moves on to a competitor, stat.

What is working, instead, are companies who connect people to what they want – be that a product, a person, or a service. Whether through a website or app, or occasionally face to face, the most successful startups focus on building relationships and creating connections: buyer to seller, consumer to content, and so on. Just think of Uber and AirBnB for examples of wildly successful startups who offer community rather than commodities.

Where it was once sufficient to sell a product and secure rave reviews, businesses that want to stand the test of time must now seek to offer valuable resources that extend beyond the simple sale. The most successful will be those who are able to create a community of customers who survive much longer than the original ’event’ itself.


According to a study by Microsoft, the average attention span of a human is eight seconds – falling from an average of twelve seconds in 2000. To put this into perspective, scientists measure the attention span of a goldfish as nine seconds. Face. Palm.

Rather than lamenting our lackadaisical interest, however – blamed, for the most part, on our over-reliance on smartphones and mobile devices – entrepreneurs must find opportunity. A growing trend that we expect to see boom in 2017 is gamification. Whether in the form of electronic games, or traditional games, the idea is to make activities fun and engaging; something that holds the consumer’s interest for longer than, well, eight seconds.

Gamification works in all sectors: from the shop floor, to the corporate world, to the classroom. Indeed, a number of innovative edtech companies have taken traditional teaching methods and shaken them up, using simulations and games as a means for engagement. The Sandpit, for example, allows students to test entrepreneurial ideas in a real-world setting with no risk. Students learn how to think innovatively and pitch for investment, and teachers see an improvement in results – all by making something seem fun and relevant.

Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing

In 2017, we will continue to see startups focus on their services, stories, and consumers, rather than aiming for an extravagant valuation and a ton of investors. As such, crowdfunding looks set to become even more popular, allowing new businesses to bring their concepts to life with the support of their customers.

Crowdfunding enables an entrepreneur to test their ideas and see if there is a market for their business. It is a great way of promoting a new brand whilst also dipping a toe in the water. What’s more, crowdfunding offers an invaluable learning experience, allowing the entrepreneur to tweak their offering in response to what the market tells them. This test of desirability and viability makes crowdfunding one of the most powerful platforms for a startup.

Similarly, crowdsourcing – in which potential customers or people with required expertise are involved in the design, development, or manufacturing of a product – looks set to grow in 2017. With startups more interested in staying lean (and less interested in glitzy city centre offices and flashy cars), the ability to partner with multiple people across the globe in order to limit expenses (yet maintain, or improve, services) is only going to grow.

While these three startup trends only scrape the surface of what we can expect in 2017, they should give a pretty good overview of how exciting the market will be.

For advice on how to make the most of your budding business in 2017, give us a call on +44 (0)7545 898120 or drop us a line at Our simulated Sandpit platform is the perfect tool for introducing enterprise education to your classroom, whilst our live crowdfunding marketplace can help any student startup achieve their ambitions.