From the rise of bizarre venture-backed food products to the budding revolution in cannabis tech, 2014 witnessed the development of some unexpected markets alongside the growth of some more conventional ones.

We’ve taken a look at some of the fastest growing (and shrinking) markets in 2014, and here’s what we found:

Venture investors got fashion fever, and it showed this year as investments in retail startups jumped 158%.

Travel and tourism startups saw a 110% increase in deal flow as VCs looked to back a new dimension of tech companies selling consumers a better way to travel.

After breaking record investment totals in October (despite recurring price panics), Bitcoin startups finished strong, capturing more than twice the number of venture rounds recorded in 2013.

VCs this year took a special interest in the future, as investments in Internet of Things startups went up 85%.

They also realized logistics companies were in for the long haul, making 67% more deals in 2014 than the year before, and splurged on real estate tech with 70 more venture rounds than last year for a 62% increase.

As Uber raised over $1 billion in 2014 alone, transportation startups saw a 50% increase in deal flow, thanks to the bidding wars over international taxi apps.

And food startups rode the VC gravy train all year long, as food processing saw the largest increase in number of rounds while the organic food market followed closely behind.

While it seemed like interest in pet tech was on the rise, the yearly total indicates a drop off in venture funding in 2014 – a near 25% decrease in number of rounds.

And unfortunately for the legal tech scene, it seems the jury is still out on legal startups.

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Image via Flickr user lempel_ziv.

  • Originally published January 6, 2015, updated April 26, 2023