The Future of AI Startups: Investors Predict a Shift Towards Verticalized Solutions

The Future of AI Startups: Investors Predict a Shift Towards Verticalized Solutions

As the dust settles on a tumultuous year for AI startups, investors share their insights on what to expect in 2024.

Artificial intelligence (AI) startups experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2023, marked by widespread adoption of AI tools, funding rounds reminiscent of 2021 valuations, high-profile shutdowns, and controversies involving industry giants like Sam Altman’s OpenAI and the New York Times. Looking ahead to 2024, TechCrunch+ sought the opinions of over 40 investors to gain insights into the future of AI investing. While the consensus points to continued funding growth, investors anticipate a shift from the initial hype cycle to more sustainable businesses. Furthermore, they predict the emergence of a second wave of AI startups that are highly specialized, focusing on specific sectors and moving away from relying solely on technologies from companies like OpenAI and Google.

Verticalized AI: A Lucrative Opportunity
Lisa Wu, a partner at Norwest Venture Partners, believes that verticalized AI presents attractive investment opportunities in 2024. Wu suggests that these startups may offer lower investment risks, as their solutions are less likely to be easily replicated by established players such as Microsoft and Google. Verticalized AI refers to applications that possess a deep understanding of end-user workflows and have access to industry-specific training data, enabling them to enhance the productivity of employees and teams in specific sectors. For instance, Wu highlights the potential for law firms that effectively leverage AI to offer their services at lower costs, higher efficiency, and increased chances of favorable litigation outcomes.

The Maturation of the AI Industry

Investors are optimistic that the AI industry is maturing, moving beyond the initial hype cycle and towards more sustainable businesses. This maturation is expected to drive a shift in focus from building layers on top of existing AI technologies towards developing specialized solutions tailored to specific sectors. By moving away from reliance on OpenAI and Google, AI startups can differentiate themselves and provide unique value propositions to their target markets.

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A Second Wave of AI Startups

In addition to verticalization, investors predict the emergence of a second wave of AI startups in 2024. These startups are expected to leverage advancements in AI technology and domain expertise to create innovative solutions for specific industries. By narrowing their focus, these startups can address industry-specific pain points and offer tailored AI solutions that cater to the unique needs of their target customers. This shift towards specialization is seen as a means to create more durable businesses that can withstand market fluctuations and deliver long-term value.

Overcoming Challenges and Seizing Opportunities

While the AI industry holds immense promise, it is not without its challenges. Investors anticipate that AI startups will need to navigate regulatory complexities, ethical considerations, and data privacy concerns to gain widespread acceptance and trust. However, they believe that startups that can effectively address these challenges will be well-positioned for success in the coming years.


As the AI startup landscape evolves, investors foresee a shift towards verticalized AI solutions and a second wave of startups focused on niche sectors. This shift reflects a maturing industry that seeks to move beyond the initial hype cycle and build sustainable businesses. By leveraging domain expertise and developing specialized solutions, AI startups can differentiate themselves and offer unique value propositions to their target markets. However, they must also navigate regulatory and ethical complexities to gain widespread acceptance. As we enter 2024, the future of AI startups appears promising, with opportunities for innovation and growth on the horizon.