(… or, is a Magic Carpet ride the same as a VC’s coattails)
Part 3 of 3
So in my last two posts (1, 2) on this subject, I focused on the “who are you” and “who are they” of getting funding from VCs. Obviously, no less important is the “what is it?” of the company you are building, and it is here that I want to go now (or at least to one point on that metamap).
A lot has been written about the changing landscape of venture capital investment as some of the heat comes out of the funding fire. And thankfully, a lot of this has focused on the fact that this might not be a bad thing. Personally, I welcome ‘normalisation’ returning to part of the VC world, despite the fact that HOMYZE will be seeking funding at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Remember, if you will (or for the sake of virtual politeness, feel free to link back here) the start-up down the row from you at some tech conference in my last post — the social network for imaginary friends. Then make the idea worse. Going forward, this company might not get funding, and with the frenzy of competition for access to a deal (any deal) now removed, VCs can have a more constructive conversation about just what your company is and how it might change the world (or perhaps more appropriately, benefit from a changing world). Hopefully, your company responses are more considered. Hopefully, the company is in better shape as a result of a more meaningful interaction.
So, how is the world changing, and how is it going to impact your company?
We need to stress that this is your company rather than your product for reasons that will (hopefully) become clear as we go on. HOMYZE is the second startup out of my mind — and that’s enough about the first — and I am sure that most founders are the same in their belief that the initial product is just the first step on a path to a full-fledged vision.
Every founder has his/her own reasons for the choice of launch product. For us, it was the potential ubiquity of initial use and the ability to capture consumer mindshare. It was also the need for technology that will underpin other points on our product roadmap. HOMYZE operates in the on-demand space, but is not exclusively on-demand now and will not be in the future. But we agree completely with Martin Mignot that consumer expectations holistically are rising (as they should!) and waiting for needs and wants to be satisfied is a fairly universal pain point. Enter our on-demand pillar.
So, what else will be going down? To what do you want to hitch your startup horse?
Given the time of year, it seemed appropriate to make a list. So, here are my top three things that will likely find consensus as being massive enabling technologies and to which your company should likely have a response.
1. Internet of Things
Again a shout-out to Benedict Evans for his post on how near-universal connectivity will change from a ‘thing’ to a ‘given’. That things can communicate will quickly translate into ‘what happens when they do communicate’? For example, do Postmates or Instacart have a vision for what happens when the (apparently early adopter) fridge shouts that you are low on milk. Of course they do … a Postmate or Instacarter picks one up (along with the other ingredients required for what you had uploaded as being your meals for the week), lets themselves into your house via the one-time access code on your e-locked front door and leaves.
If a fridge speaks and no-one is listening, does it make a sound?
2. Virtual or Augmented Reality
There is no question that VR/AR is going to change things. Whether this is in gaming, health or virtual tourism, the continued pursuit of ‘presence’ and further realisation of positional tracking are going to shake a lot of things up. Couple that with robust logic in a back-end, and formerly real-world tasks previously done by specialised labour are going to be done by a computer (in whatever form that may be). Does AR/VR affect your company? Can you make it do so? HOMYZE wants to harness this tech and use it to our ends.
3. End of apps/continued rise of APIs
There is an obvious reason why all the big tech companies want to be a platform. … but that is not to say that the platforms that exist today are going to be the ones that will exist in 10 or 20 years. It is very easy to imagine them clipping a coupon on enabled transactions for which you never had to leave their interface (that may not be a site or app). Apps are still silos, and although the first iterations are out there on how to add an aggregating layer — @hello Alfred! and @Relevant 2.0 — the platform itself has to offer something for you to use it. See this in the Facebook/Uber integration … if you want a quick meet up with a friend you are Messengering: see/send an Uber to the restaurant to which you are going and just booked by including the restaurant in the conversation (not all of it!). That book of faces has really come a long way.
Just as our real world is becoming more connected, both in terms of products and people … so are the platforms. Well, of course they are — it starts with a ‘p’ as well. So, what happens? You are either able to exploit a brand premium (in terms of time spent engaging) or you are an enabler. As always, check out Scott Galloway’s amazing work on this.
Either way, you had better give good API.
Of course there are others, perhaps most obviously AI/machine learning, but this is our top three (and well, it just seems more acceptable than a Top 4).
Now comes the opportunity (or should that be obligation) to lay your product pathway onto this megatrend map. And sometimes, just sometimes it might be that your product might be too advanced (or assumes no period for evolution) between the world today and the vision of the future. I feel quite strongly that @Uber has got a strategy for dealing with the period between now and when a pooled resource of autonomous cars are the dominant mode of transport and cities just function better. On the other hand, I’m not sure just how the clothes swapping application that is designed to also pool ‘wearable materials’ with only size being the differentiator survives until the point where we all wear the same outfit (if this happens). I’m just not sure that the technological battle is commensurate with the societal one.
So, we’ve come full circle .. back to where it all began. You building a company to solve today’s problems in a way that shapes the future. This is the fun bit … and when you have the time to chat with a VC about how you might solve future problems as well, or take advantage of impending opportunities, all the better.
Thanks for reading … as always feel free to share. We will return with a new theme and ad-hoc pieces in 2016.
HOMYZE is the fastest growing community of top-of-their-game tradespeople — a team of pipe-fixing, drain-clearing, heat-sorting superstars (to name just a few of the skills on offer). Founded by some of London’s top luxury property developers, HOMYZE is revolutionising the way people find, book and manage tradespeople. Every tradesperson is fully vetted, performance monitored, and every job is customer-rated after completion. It’s 100% visible and 100% trusted. BOOM.