2018 global venture capital activity has reached post-Dot Com records, and seed and angel capital invested is up 39% compared to last year. But we still have a way to go before self employment is as accessible to people as it should be. Start-up founders face a myriad of complex challenges in taking an idea and turning it into a commercially viable product or service.
To better understand the investment side of this challenge, I am surveying over 1400 early stage investors and will share the aggregated findings with respondents in a free report. I recognise this is only a small sampling of what’s going on in the larger ecosystem, but we hope this snapshot provides value to the community so we can all have some context about what is being funded, and where this is leading us.
If you are an early stage investor in the UK or Europe, please include your details in this survey. Its only 8 questions and should take you less than 3 minutes to complete.
If you know of anyone that you think should be included in these results, please feel free to share this link with them: https://goo.gl/forms/nHuTtLyabLMRXaMB3
Orange is moving to launch a mobile-first bank in 2017. People have been harping on about Digital Convergence for ages now. But this is a great example of what it actually means for the end customer. New firms, leveraging their existing technology capability, to launch new services in an adjacent market sector that is not innovating fast enough. A few years ago it would have seemed strange that the company currently offering you a phone contract would potentially replace your bank. But somehow it doesn’t seem that out of place …
Telco companies around the world are battling to drive average revenue per user. So forward thinking CEO’s are moving to try and participate in Over The Top (OTT) services. But that may not be enough.
Given how many people own mobile phones, it might seem surprising at first that Telco companies the world around are under pressure to grow revenues. Companies in emerging markets like Beeline, Wind, Kyivstar, Mobilink, Telecom have been suffering with year-on-year declining Average Revenue per User (ARPU) figures for the last 5 years. This is not much better in developed markets. The key challenge across all operators is the costs of licensing spectrum, maintaining physical network infrastructure on the ground, and the declining margins on data sales due to global competition. Match this with massively growing smartphone adoption across the globe, where all services are moved to data channels… and you’ve got a race to the bottom. All the telco’s are offering narrowly differentiated services and competing on… price. Not a good place to be.
In a recent post by Andreessen Horowitz they unpack how China’s WeChat has driven significant ARPU with their content strategy within Chat. The follow on from this, when viewed alongside Twitter, is that ‘chat’ as a context, is a hugely powerful mechanism for discovery. As long as the UX is done right, there’s nothing to prevent Telco’s from leveraging this kind of thinking to solve their own challenges with ARPU.
How to solve the Telco dumb-pipe challenge? Well, it would seem that chat is part of the solution.
Most notable, however, for anyone in the tech business is WeChat’s average revenue per user or ARPU, which is estimated to be at least $7 USD — that’s 7X the ARPU of WhatsApp, the largest messaging platform in the world. How did WeChat do it?
Source: When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China | Andreessen Horowitz
The Stanford Prison Experiment has shown how quickly a persons mindset adjusts to their context and prescribed social roles. It has a significant implication for how you build or restructure teams in a business context too. Essentially, the person you hire will behave a certain way up until the point that they start work. But once they are in your business, they will be massively influenced, and may display entirely new behaviours as a result of the existing business culture.
It’s an easy concept to understand. Quite informative if you are able to influence a culture top down. An informative view to help adjust your hiring strategy. But pretty challenging to resolve if you find yourself hired into an environment where you cannot exert any significant influence on the culture. The challenge then is to understand what can be done get people to snap out of cruel or self serving behaviour, and …
An amazing tool from IBM to analyse personality traits based on a persons writing. You can use text from blogs, email, forum posts. A very interesting tool for interviews, or research ahead of meetings. Try it!
Personality Insights – The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more.
How to feel better about your fundraising challenges…
On June 26, 2008, our friend Michael Seibel introduced us to 7 prominent investors in Silicon Valley. We were attempting to raise $150,000 at a $1.5M valuation. That means for $150,000 you could have bought 10% of Airbnb. Below you will see 5 rejections. The other 2 did not reply.
Mobile payments have been a hot topic in the tech start-up space for a while now. There have been some great outcomes with companies like Square and Coin taking centre stage amongst a raft of other possibilities. But to be fair, nothing has really hit the ball out the park and transformed the industry just yet. It’s still an opportunity there for the taking.
NFC was touted as being one of the next big steps. At least in terms of the consumer experience. But it requires widespread adoption to become a real success. The fact that Apple didn’t put NFC into the iPhone 5 continues to be a drawback for many ‘fast follower’ innovators waiting to make a decision.
Nice as many of them are, all of these technologies, peripherals, apps and add-on’s are all top tier incremental improvements to an existing market structure. Your bank account, card (or similar), are still at the heart of the transaction process.
Apple have openly commented that they are serious about mobile payments and I for one am hopeful about their potential entry into this space. They have a track record of “integrating the whole widget” into their business process. Which means we would potentially see the first high quality mobile payments service with an end-to-end infrastructure in place. Their whole stack approach to innovation worked well for the music industry.
With all of this going on, it’s surprising there hasn’t been a more robust set of actions taken by the retail banks.