If I were a VC
I am obsessed with the word “interaction”, and I analyze any company based on how it is changing a conventional interaction model. Read more about this here. To me, Uber has changed our interaction model for short commutes; Robinhood has changed our interaction model for amateur stock trading; Audible has changed our interaction model for reading books.
I believe that the technology should be hidden in products and it should seamlessly help the users with solving a specific problem. Ideally, it should do it fast and with the least amount of effort, input, and energy from the user.
Other attributes about companies that I like are:
- Scalable: The company should be able to grow from a small number of users to a large user base with the least amount of capital
- Deep Tech: The era of companies which are based only on software or a web application is done. Start-ups of the future would come out of deep scientific research (not necessarily by PhDs and academics though!)
- Recently Enabled: I love companies which are based on an infrastructure or another tech which has recently matured and has opened up a sea of opportunities
Here are some of the industries or types of problems that I would like to see more companies working on and I would invest in if I were a VC:
- Human-Computer Interaction: The way we interact with the technologies around us determines how fast we can receive or send information from our body to our computers. Our brain processes gigabytes of data and the microprocessors do the same, however, most of the interfaces that translate our brain decisions to commands are only kilobytes of data. We use mouse and keyboards to give input data and monitors to receive data from laptops which are on a much lower bandwidth than the capacity of either our brains or computers. Touch screens completely changed how we interact with mobile phones and opened the door for smart phones and apps. Natural Language Processing (NLP) together with voice recognition is now opening new doors. Any technology that can increase the amount of information we can receive or transfer to the processors around us with the least effort, is an enabler technology for many new applications and products. Gesture Control and Brain Computer Interfaces are examples of this and companies like Thalmic Labs (Myo band) and Neuralink are onto something big.
- Neuroscience/Cognitive Science: We have a lot of data about everything around us, except our own brain. Even to this date, our understanding of brain processes is very limited. Companies and projects that help us understand our behavior and thoughts better and help us master our unconscious brain are absolutely interesting. Kernel is a company I like in this space.
- Genetics/Bio Hacking/Personalized Healthcare: It should be a well-known fact by now that that the next 50 years are going to be about A/T/G/Cs rather than 0 and 1s.
- Primary/Preventative Healthcare: The US has a massive healthcare and insurance problem. Primary care and preventative medicine should be the number one priority. There are companies working on this, but it’s a massive problem and opportunity and has room for more. Checkout the company Forward.
- Future of Consumption/Shopping: Yes, e-commerce is eating brick-and-mortar retail, but something will eat the current e-commerce model. Sharing economy, showrooming, Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVB), and new shopping models should be taken seriously. Start-ups like b8ta, Casper, Bonobos, and WithMe look interesting.
- Enterprise hardware (Industrial IoT): Many industries are still relying on software and hardware tech from a decade ago. They need new hardware and new software with a focus on data. Watch out for Capella Space.
- EdTech: New models that can teach skills, especially to the large workforce who is going to lose their current jobs
- Data: Products that seamlessly gather data and provide actionable insights
- Sustainability: We need new ways to produce and consume. Food sustainability is a good example.
- Democracy: bringing what’s in the monopoly of a few to masses, including bringing political democracy and easy decision making in societies and communities