I recently took my annual look-back in Where Do Deals Come From, 2018. While helpful to review and reflect on the past, I prefer to look forward.
Typically, I am not a big fan of those ‘Request for Startups’ posts, as they can feed the misconception that investors value product and ideas more than the people themselves. At Corigin Ventures, we believe founding teams are the most important variable in any investment decision: not only their passion, grit, EQ, and raw intellectual horsepower, but also their unique insight or competitive advantage in a specific market (founder-market fit).
That being said, I realize that founders have more options than ever before when it comes to capital, and they are seeking investors who align both on values and their view of the world. So in that light, here are some industries, business models, and trends I am thinking about in 2019. Think about it as me raising my hand. If you’re building something relevant, please reach out. At a minimum, we’ll likely have an interesting dialogue. (This is not an exhaustive list, and I still welcome any founder to reach out and share what he or she is building).
Personalization/Customization: Consumer expectations of companies/brands have never been higher. It’s often not enough to just be a ‘great product’, but rather to truly stand out a product must be ‘the perfect product for me’. This comes in many forms, from ‘custom fit’ to ‘unique formula’ to ‘curated for you’. I get most excited for startups/founders who have an interesting edge in supply chain, allowing them to deliver on this value proposition without sacrificing cost and convenience. I am also bullish on advances in DNA-sequencing and Microbiome to deliver personalized health & wellness products/experiences.
Family: Specifically, pets and children. Maybe this is just a reflection of my personal values and where I am at in my life (emotional support animals always welcome over here), but there remains enormous untapped opportunity to create and provide new products and experiences for these target markets. The economics are incredible (long/high LTVs w/ high margins), and emotional ties and values can create stickiness. And in a never-ending battle for share-of-wallet, pets and children always seem to come out on top (‘irrational spend’).
Physical Spaces: For years, we have been retreating towards isolation, preferring to live in our phones, in social networks, and virtual worlds. But data has shown potential harms here, and humans crave connection. I believe we’ll start seeing a flight back to the real world, whether it be in commerce (experiential retail) or community (social clubs).
Niche Marketplaces: Most investors tout the incredible dynamics of marketplace businesses (network effects, asset light models). And while the battle for horizontal marketplaces has already been waged and decided (Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, Alibaba), there still remain incredible opportunities for category specific and niche marketplaces. And because they often display ‘winner-take-all’ characteristics, there need not be as big a TAM as other models. Lately I’ve been more excited by b2b marketplaces over their consumer counterparts, but I’m always open to being inspired.
Home Ownership: I don’t know what it will look like, but something needs to give here. Too many are priced out of what once was the #1 goal of the working class. Looking for something bold here.
I’m sure this list will constantly evolve, and I’ll try to update.
Working on something interesting? Shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org