Businesses to Keep an Eye On In 2014

With the New Year in full swing, financial experts and consumers alike are beginning to look for the businesses that could potentially make a larger impact this year. There are many businesses that show promise for the months ahead spanning a variety of sectors and fulfilling various consumer needs. This is just a small sample of those that may become big names in the future.

Uber

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Uber is essentially a high-tech car service. It allows users to pre-register on their website and input their credit card information securely. They can then request a ride by mobile app, on the website or by text message. A user can get an accurate quote prior to selecting a ride, track the location of the vehicle that is coming for them and get a text message when the driver arrives. The credit card that is registered on the website is charged after the ride and users get an email receipt with trip details. Users can even encourage friends or coworkers to join the service and then use the ‘split fare’ feature so that all riders are charged equally. Uber has also promised to check drivers for proper insurance and conduct background checks.

ZocDoc

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ZocDoc is a free online medical and dental scheduling service. Providers register with the service online and input their available appointments during a given time frame. Users can then search their area for a provider with open appointments and refine the search to those who take the right insurance, by specialty, by gender, by language, or even sort the doctors who will see children. The site then list all of the providers who meet the patient’s criteria, allows the patient to select an appointment time and provides a map and contact information for the office.

Trulia

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With the real estate market on the rebound, Trulia is beginning to show impressive growth. They are an online service, free to users, that provides a searchable database of information about homes for rent or sale. Buyers or renters input their search criteria and find properties that meet them. Users can also find real estate agents, information about prospective communities such as schools, crime rates and commute times, and even ask the local community questions. Trulia also provides a venue for real estate agents, property owners and managers, and landlords a highly visible venue in which to showcase and advertise their property.

Smashwords

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Electronic books are the fastest growing category of book sales in the country. Smashwords is a distributor of ebooks written by independent authors and publishers. They provide marketing, formatting and distribution tools to authors and publishers yet allows the originator of the work to retain control over pricing, sampling and marketing. They boast a high author earning percentage – roughly 85 percent – that is based on book sales. Rather than the typical publishing model of charging the author for their services, the cost is deflected to the reader with the intention of allowing independent authors to publish who might otherwise be unable to. According to the Smashwords founder, this allows readers rather than publishers or editors to decide which works have value.

There are numerous businesses showing promise for this year. This small handful has the unique characteristic of providing some key consumer services that look to create a much more digitally-enhanced world.