startups i’d invest in today

at some point in the next 10 years, i plan to start an angellist syndicate. until then, i’ll be writing occasional (timestamped) posts detailing the companies i would invest in today, and why i’d invest in them. the goal is to build a track record of predictions around startup success before it’s happened. most companies i’ll look at will be in the tech and food spaces.

the below startups represent a small slice of companies that fulfill 3 criteria:

  1. i’ve heard of the startup
  2. they are less than 3 years old (i.e. still relatively early stage)
  3. i think they have unique potential to become a large company or get acquired for a meaningful amount

as of march 2017, here are a few companies i’d invest in:

fomo – disclaimer, i loved this idea so much when i saw it that i bought the company with my partner ryan kulp. i love this business because it solves a problem (increase conversions) in a niche (ecommerce) that i know well. in the 12 months since we bought it, it’s grown 250%+ and has been a great investment.

 

annum health – caveat: i don’t know the founder(s), nor have i even seeing a working demo of the product. that said, i absolutely LOVE this space. rehab is a 10bb+ industry with zero tech, nothing close to a data warehouse that tracks patients across different treatments (not to mention AA and the like), and a treatment model built on science from 1955. i took a deep look at the space about a year ago and concluded that – for such a serious problem – the bevy of mobile apps that provide community engagement + push notifications probably will not be enough to change behavior in a meaningful way. especially not over the long term.

what excites me about this company is that the founder’s previous company, AbleTo, was in the telehealth space. to me, this means he has an understanding of the limitations and difficulties of telehealth, and (hopefully) a good idea of how to do customer acquisition. they also have an addiction psychiatrist on the team who – judging by his quote here – has an appreciation of how addiction is often intertwined with other conditions. huge space, big problem, old solutions that don’t work well, experienced founder… seems like it could be a huge win.

 

butcherbox – another company i’d invest in today if i could. super sharp founder providing a solution for the fastest-growing segment within the meat industry: grass-fed beef. i’ve been seeing them everywhere and know they have a strong marketing strategy and team. given that online grocery has so much room for growth (90% of grocery dollars are still spent offline, compared to 35%+ in general retail), i think companies like these will be snatched up by larger food giants or be able to build a massive company. kettle & fire is a similar bet 🙂

 

blockstack – in an online world of network effects, where certain platforms (google, amazon, facebook, etc.) own the data you give them, i think many apps (and lots and lots of venture capital $$) will be interested in tools that can promote a less centralized internet. not only do i think blockstack is an important company, but the founders are great and it feels like they’re working in an area with a lot of hidden value.

 

distribute – alibaba / amazon for wholesale distribution. need to buy 100 coffee makers for your hotel room? distribute is the place to go. huge idea, lots of potential and an experienced founding team. this whole space (buying goods wholesale) is so inefficient – it’s something we’ve struggled with at kettle & fire. distribute is one of the first companies i’ve seen taking an interesting step towards solving this problem.

 

sourcery – similar to my thesis with distribute, i think wholesale purchasing is really inefficient. sourcery tackles that from the food and restaurant side.

 

numerai – this is (in my opinion) the most interesting company in the financial space. the core idea – allow data scientists to build models around the stock market and share in the returns – is strong, they’ve seen great adoption within the communities that matter (data scientists and developers), and they’ve playing in a space with almost unlimited money.

this also fits my personal thesis that tech companies will win when an industry rewards a company for being stronger in technology. for example, as finance becomes more software and data driven, i think you’ll see big winners in finance look more and more like tech companies.

 

mighty – they’re trying to become the zenefits of the legal funding space. killer founding team, some great early traction entering a big space full of companies that are not technology companies. the legal market is $500b+ and it seems that there are multiple large software companies that could be built in the space.

 

***

well, i hope that was interesting or useful. i’ll be writing more thoughts every 2-3 months, so stay tuned. and if you have questions or think i’m an idiot, feel free to share in the comments. only time will tell how good these predictions are.

1