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How to read fiction to build a startup – TechCrunch


“The book itself is a curious artefact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were 15, it will tell it to you again when you’re 50, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.”—Ursula K. Le Guin

Every year, Bill Gates goes off-grid, leaves friends and family behind, and spends two weeks holed up in a cabin reading books. His annual reading list rivals Oprah’s Book Club as a publishing kingmaker. Not to be outdone, Mark Zuckerberg shared a reading recommendation every two weeks for a year, dubbing 2015 his “Year of Books.” Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, joined the board of Room to Read when she realized how books like The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate were inspiring girls to pursue careers in science and technology. Many a biotech entrepreneur treasures a dog-eared copy of Daniel Suarez’s Change Agent, which extrapolates the future of CRISPR. Noah Yuval Harari’s sweeping account of world history, Sapiens, is de rigueur for Silicon Valley nightstands.

This obsession with literature isn’t limited to founders. Investors are just as avid bookworms. “Reading was my first love,” says AngelList’s Naval Ravikant. “There is always a book to capture the imagination.” Ravikant reads dozens of books at a time, dipping in and out of each one nonlinearly. When asked about his preternatural instincts, Lux Capital’s Josh Wolfe advised investors to “read voraciously and connect dots.” Foundry Group’s Brad Feld has reviewed 1,197 books on Goodreads and especially loves science fiction novels that “make the step function leaps in imagination that represent the coming dislocation from our current reality.”

This begs a fascinating question: Why do the people building the future spend so much of their scarcest resource — time — reading books?

Image by NiseriN via Getty Images. Reading time approximately 14 minutes.

Don’t Predict, Reframe

Do innovators read in order to mine literature for ideas? The Kindle was built to the specs of a science fictional children’s storybook featured in Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age, in fact, the Kindle project team was originally codenamed “Fiona” after the novel’s protagonist. Jeff Bezos later hired Stephenson as the first employee at his space startup Blue Origin. But this literary prototyping is the exception that proves the rule. To understand the extent of the feedback loop between books and technology, it’s necessary to attack the subject from a less direct angle.

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is full of indirect angles that all manage to reveal deeper truths. It’s a mind-bending novel that follows six different characters through an intricate web of interconnected stories spanning three centuries. The book is a feat of pure M.C. Escher-esque imagination, featuring a structure as creative and compelling as its content. Mitchell takes the reader on a journey ranging from the 19th century South Pacific to a far-future Korean corpocracy and challenges the reader to rethink the very idea of civilization along the way. “Power, time, gravity, love,” writes Mitchell. “The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.”

The technological incarnations of these invisible forces are precisely what Kevin Kelly seeks to catalog in The Inevitable. Kelly is an enthusiastic observer of the impact of technology on the human condition. He was a co-founder of Wired, and the insights explored in his book are deep, provocative, and wide-ranging. In his own words, “When answers become cheap, good questions become more difficult and therefore more valuable.” The Inevitable raises many important questions that will shape the next few decades, not least of which concern the impacts of AI:

“Over the past 60 years, as mechanical processes have replicated behaviors and talents we thought were unique to humans, we’ve had to change our minds about what sets us apart. As we invent more species of AI, we will be forced to surrender more of what is supposedly unique about humans. Each step of surrender—we are not the only mind that can play chess, fly a plane, make music, or invent a mathematical law—will be painful and sad. We’ll spend the next three decades—indeed, perhaps the next century—in a permanent identity crisis, continually asking ourselves what humans are good for. If we aren’t unique toolmakers, or artists, or moral ethicists, then what, if anything, makes us special? In the grandest irony of all, the greatest benefit of an everyday, utilitarian AI will not be increased productivity or an economics of abundance or a new way of doing science—although all those will happen. The greatest benefit of the arrival of artificial intelligence is that AIs will help define humanity. We need AIs to tell us who we are.”

It is precisely this kind of an AI-influenced world that Richard Powers describes so powerfully in his extraordinary novel The Overstory:

“Signals swarm through Mimi’s phone. Suppressed updates and smart alerts chime at her. Notifications to flick away. Viral memes and clickable comment wars, millions of unread posts demanding to be ranked. Everyone around her in the park is likewise busy, tapping and swiping, each with a universe in his palm. A massive, crowd-sourced urgency unfolds in Like-Land, and the learners, watching over these humans’ shoulders, noting each time a person clicks, begin to see what it might be: people, vanishing en masse into a replicated paradise.”

Taking this a step further, Virginia Heffernan points out in Magic and Loss that living in a digitally mediated reality impacts our inner lives at least as much as the world we inhabit:

“The Internet suggests immortality—comes just shy of promising it—with its magic. With its readability and persistence of data. With its suggestion of universal connectedness. With its disembodied imagines and sounds. And then, just as suddenly, it stirs grief: the deep feeling that digitization has cost us something very profound. That connectedness is illusory; that we’re all more alone than ever.”

And it is the questionable assumptions underlying such a future that Nick Harkaway enumerates in his existential speculative thriller Gnomon:

“Imagine how safe it would feel to know that no one could ever commit a crime of violence and go unnoticed, ever again. Imagine what it would mean to us to know—know for certain—that the plane or the bus we’re travelling on is properly maintained, that the teacher who looks after our children doesn’t have ugly secrets. All it would cost is our privacy, and to be honest who really cares about that? What secrets would you need to keep from a mathematical construct without a heart? From a card index? Why would it matter? And there couldn’t be any abuse of the system, because the system would be built not to allow it. It’s the pathway we’re taking now, that we’ve been on for a while.” 

Machine learning pioneer, former President of Google China, and leading Chinese venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee loves reading science fiction in this vein — books that extrapolate AI futures — like Hao Jingfang’s Hugo Award-winning Folding Beijing. Lee’s own book, AI Superpowers, provides a thought-provoking overview of the burgeoning feedback loop between machine learning and geopolitics. As AI becomes more and more powerful, it becomes an instrument of power, and this book outlines what that means for the 21st century world stage:

“Many techno-optimists and historians would argue that productivity gains from new technology almost always produce benefits throughout the economy, creating more jobs and prosperity than before. But not all inventions are created equal. Some changes replace one kind of labor (the calculator), and some disrupt a whole industry (the cotton gin). Then there are technological changes on a grander scale. These don’t merely affect one task or one industry but drive changes across hundreds of them. In the past three centuries, we’ve only really seen three such inventions: the steam engine, electrification, and information technology.”

So what’s different this time? Lee points out that “AI is inherently monopolistic: A company with more data and better algorithms will gain ever more users and data. This self-reinforcing cycle will lead to winner-take-all markets, with one company making massive profits while its rivals languish.” This tendency toward centralization has profound implications for the restructuring of world order:

“The AI revolution will be of the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution—but probably larger and definitely faster. Where the steam engine only took over physical labor, AI can perform both intellectual and physical labor. And where the Industrial Revolution took centuries to spread beyond Europe and the U.S., AI applications are already being adopted simultaneously all across the world.”

Cloud Atlas, The Inevitable, The Overstory, Gnomon, Folding Beijing, and AI Superpowers might appear to predict the future, but in fact they do something far more interesting and useful: reframe the present. They invite us to look at the world from new angles and through fresh eyes. And cultivating “beginner’s mind” is the problem for anyone hoping to build or bet on the future.



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Entrepreneurship

PropTech Startup Founders On How They Came Up With Their Idea


Woman with a book and pen brainstorming photo credit: GettyGetty

This is the second article of a series titled #StartupLife, in which I interviewed over 70 PropTech founders to discover what truly goes into being a startupper. We explore their motivations for getting into this industry, the barriers they faced, the joys and disappointments they experienced, and much more.  In the first installment of the series, I asked them to share why they decided to become a PropTech startup founder.  Today, we will look at the starting point for the whole process – the business idea.

How did you come up with your PropTech business idea?

Unsurprisingly, this went hand in hand with the decision to become a founder. They were facing an issue in their daily personal or work life or saw an untapped opportunity that they decided to grasp. Here are 10 of the best answers, in no particular order. You will not believe how some of these founders came up with their idea!

Jonny Britton, Founder of London-based LandInsight, a service to find and assess off-market land: “We did a textbook lean startup. We knew we wanted to make land data more accessible but weren’t sure exactly how. Both of us were software developers but decided not to write any code until we had validated our concepts in the market. At first, we were trying to help self-builders find land to build on but found that they don’t want to scramble around looking for off-market land, so we looked at established property developers. They were biting our hand off to get an advantage so we tested concepts and talked to them until we figured out what was needed to add the most value. After being convinced they would buy our product, we raised money and built the team needed to deliver the product. From there it’s evolved further based on user feedback and still trying to solve the same problem of making the land market more accessible.”

Atle Tiemenes, Co-Founder of Oslo-based Wheel.me, inventor of the first autonomous wheel: “My co-founder, Rolf Libakken, got tired of helping his family moving several times in just some few weeks because nothing he had to move was on wheels.”

Nikolai Narvestad, Co-founder of Oslo-based property management business intelligence company Intrava: “Initially the platform was developed to solve a huge problem in the business intelligence space – getting visualization tools to work. You’ve probably heard of Tableau, Domo, Grow, Qlik View, etc. there are tons of these vendors out there. They all sell the same story, “connect our software to your disparate data sources and magic will happen.” Though that sounds awesome, most data scientists/programmers will laugh. The problem is dirty data. Garbage in is garbage out. You need a middle piece between the visualization software and your databases, where data is cleaned and transformed into a consolidated structured data model, also known as a data warehouse. Once you drop the words ‘data warehouse’ the price tag of business analytics skyrockets, as it involves expensive tools and very expensive people who know how to use them. Hence, BI has long been reserved for corporate heavyweights, but that’s changing now, and property management is first in line.”

Idea photo credit: GettyGetty

Rakesh Thakrar, Founder of London-based property management app Anabode: “The idea for Anabode came about on holiday in Barcelona with friends, when one of my tenants sent me a message saying that she had a leak in the bathroom. Trying to organize a contractor to go over at such short notice ate into my precious little personal time, making me realize that there was surely an easier way to take care of such things, whether at home in London, traveling for work, or on holiday. At this point I was using WhatsApp for tenant communications, Trello for day to day admin, and Google Drive for document management, and it seemed natural to combine these tools with Uber-style on-demand services technology into one mobile-first solution that could be used by everyday normal people. At worst, I figured that at the end of this almighty endeavor I would have a great tool to manage my own portfolio!”

Matthew Partridge, Founder of Infabode, a London-based real estate industry research, and insights platform: “Whilst at University, I found myself trawling through pages of search results on Google trying to find industry information. I realized that Google was fantastic for getting facts but it was time-consuming and difficult to get an overview of a particular market or sector.  I thought that there should be an online knowledge portal for every industry, where the best research, data, news, and insights were curated together and made available on one platform, through one login. And so Infabode was born. We soon realized that the real estate industry was going to be a big enough challenge so we focus on that.”

Kristi Hakkaja, Founder of Hesse-based CRE management software provider Moderan: “Our co-founder Raiko has been working in the real estate industry for 15 years. When he was looking for a better tool than Excel for his team to manage leases and reporting, he found several solutions that fit well for large corporate teams (Yardi, MRI, later VTS and others), but were too complex for a team of 3-50 people. We discovered an interesting mismatch – there are many good tools for the large real estate corporations, which manage about half of global asset value but only represent about 10% of the companies in the industry. The other half of the asset value is managed by 90% of the companies, all small and medium-sized teams and most of them are still stuck with Excel because existing solutions are too complex, expensive or old-school.”

Michael von Roeder, Founder of Sensorberg, a Berlin-based Proptech company which digitizes complex buildings and physical processes within offices, coworking spaces, and hotels: “One day I got an interesting request from the Founder of one of the biggest co-working buildings in Germany, Factory Berlin. He wanted to build a building that could become a home for their digital community of 2000 people. For that, he needed a digital solution that would increase the co-workers’ comfort and also allow them to manage themselves in a physical building. This is how the idea to develop a digital access system that acts in parallel as a smart building infrastructure developed. The Smart Spaces Solution soon became popular in the co-working and office community in Berlin and we started getting more and more requests, which led us to decide to become a PropTech company.”

Brainstorming photo credit: GettyGetty

Hussain Hill, Founder of construction site waste-collection app Skrap: “It came out of a problem in another business I founded – Byoot. My Co-Founder Marwan Field and I found that as we scaled our construction company across the country we had several sites that were underserved, prices varied significantly, service was poor and the convenience was just not there. An on-demand mobile application just made sense and there was nothing out there like it.”

Claire Owen, founder of Faringdon-based Loop Software, a market intelligence platform for property agents: “As an agent, I was frustrated with the lack of available and accessible property information. I knew where to look to find planning history, sold data, environmental and area data (things I would look for a lot as a buying agent) but all of the information was in different places and if you don’t know exactly where to look, very difficult to find.   I dreamed of a platform that would aggregate this useful data and provide it in a useable and quick to access format.”

Jeannette Wu, Founder of Singapore-based online home concierge platform DD-IY: “The business idea was based on the problem that my friends and I had faced over the years in Southeast Asia, that we didn’t have enough time to do so many things at home. But the business model took many iterations to develop as we gathered feedback from clients and spoke with many stakeholders to understand how we could better solve their different pain points. At a certain point, the business idea came to consist of two parts: our core mission of transforming urban living and our business model that we constantly refine to serve the mission.”





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Entrepreneurship

PropTech Startup Founders On How They Came Up With Their Idea


Woman with a book and pen brainstorming photo credit: GettyGetty

This is the second article of a series titled #StartupLife, in which I interviewed over 70 PropTech founders to discover what truly goes into being a startupper. We explore their motivations for getting into this industry, the barriers they faced, the joys and disappointments they experienced, and much more.  In the first installment of the series, I asked them to share why they decided to become a PropTech startup founder.  Today, we will look at the starting point for the whole process – the business idea.

How did you come up with your PropTech business idea?

Unsurprisingly, this went hand in hand with the decision to become a founder. They were facing an issue in their daily personal or work life or saw an untapped opportunity that they decided to grasp. Here are 10 of the best answers, in no particular order. You will not believe how some of these founders came up with their idea!

Jonny Britton, Founder of London-based LandInsight, a service to find and assess off-market land: “We did a textbook lean startup. We knew we wanted to make land data more accessible but weren’t sure exactly how. Both of us were software developers but decided not to write any code until we had validated our concepts in the market. At first, we were trying to help self-builders find land to build on but found that they don’t want to scramble around looking for off-market land, so we looked at established property developers. They were biting our hand off to get an advantage so we tested concepts and talked to them until we figured out what was needed to add the most value. After being convinced they would buy our product, we raised money and built the team needed to deliver the product. From there it’s evolved further based on user feedback and still trying to solve the same problem of making the land market more accessible.”

Atle Tiemenes, Co-Founder of Oslo-based Wheel.me, inventor of the first autonomous wheel: “My co-founder, Rolf Libakken, got tired of helping his family moving several times in just some few weeks because nothing he had to move was on wheels.”

Nikolai Narvestad, Co-founder of Oslo-based property management business intelligence company Intrava: “Initially the platform was developed to solve a huge problem in the business intelligence space – getting visualization tools to work. You’ve probably heard of Tableau, Domo, Grow, Qlik View, etc. there are tons of these vendors out there. They all sell the same story, “connect our software to your disparate data sources and magic will happen.” Though that sounds awesome, most data scientists/programmers will laugh. The problem is dirty data. Garbage in is garbage out. You need a middle piece between the visualization software and your databases, where data is cleaned and transformed into a consolidated structured data model, also known as a data warehouse. Once you drop the words ‘data warehouse’ the price tag of business analytics skyrockets, as it involves expensive tools and very expensive people who know how to use them. Hence, BI has long been reserved for corporate heavyweights, but that’s changing now, and property management is first in line.”

Idea photo credit: GettyGetty

Rakesh Thakrar, Founder of London-based property management app Anabode: “The idea for Anabode came about on holiday in Barcelona with friends, when one of my tenants sent me a message saying that she had a leak in the bathroom. Trying to organize a contractor to go over at such short notice ate into my precious little personal time, making me realize that there was surely an easier way to take care of such things, whether at home in London, traveling for work, or on holiday. At this point I was using WhatsApp for tenant communications, Trello for day to day admin, and Google Drive for document management, and it seemed natural to combine these tools with Uber-style on-demand services technology into one mobile-first solution that could be used by everyday normal people. At worst, I figured that at the end of this almighty endeavor I would have a great tool to manage my own portfolio!”

Matthew Partridge, Founder of Infabode, a London-based real estate industry research, and insights platform: “Whilst at University, I found myself trawling through pages of search results on Google trying to find industry information. I realized that Google was fantastic for getting facts but it was time-consuming and difficult to get an overview of a particular market or sector.  I thought that there should be an online knowledge portal for every industry, where the best research, data, news, and insights were curated together and made available on one platform, through one login. And so Infabode was born. We soon realized that the real estate industry was going to be a big enough challenge so we focus on that.”

Kristi Hakkaja, Founder of Hesse-based CRE management software provider Moderan: “Our co-founder Raiko has been working in the real estate industry for 15 years. When he was looking for a better tool than Excel for his team to manage leases and reporting, he found several solutions that fit well for large corporate teams (Yardi, MRI, later VTS and others), but were too complex for a team of 3-50 people. We discovered an interesting mismatch – there are many good tools for the large real estate corporations, which manage about half of global asset value but only represent about 10% of the companies in the industry. The other half of the asset value is managed by 90% of the companies, all small and medium-sized teams and most of them are still stuck with Excel because existing solutions are too complex, expensive or old-school.”

Michael von Roeder, Founder of Sensorberg, a Berlin-based Proptech company which digitizes complex buildings and physical processes within offices, coworking spaces, and hotels: “One day I got an interesting request from the Founder of one of the biggest co-working buildings in Germany, Factory Berlin. He wanted to build a building that could become a home for their digital community of 2000 people. For that, he needed a digital solution that would increase the co-workers’ comfort and also allow them to manage themselves in a physical building. This is how the idea to develop a digital access system that acts in parallel as a smart building infrastructure developed. The Smart Spaces Solution soon became popular in the co-working and office community in Berlin and we started getting more and more requests, which led us to decide to become a PropTech company.”

Brainstorming photo credit: GettyGetty

Hussain Hill, Founder of construction site waste-collection app Skrap: “It came out of a problem in another business I founded – Byoot. My Co-Founder Marwan Field and I found that as we scaled our construction company across the country we had several sites that were underserved, prices varied significantly, service was poor and the convenience was just not there. An on-demand mobile application just made sense and there was nothing out there like it.”

Claire Owen, founder of Faringdon-based Loop Software, a market intelligence platform for property agents: “As an agent, I was frustrated with the lack of available and accessible property information. I knew where to look to find planning history, sold data, environmental and area data (things I would look for a lot as a buying agent) but all of the information was in different places and if you don’t know exactly where to look, very difficult to find.   I dreamed of a platform that would aggregate this useful data and provide it in a useable and quick to access format.”

Jeannette Wu, Founder of Singapore-based online home concierge platform DD-IY: “The business idea was based on the problem that my friends and I had faced over the years in Southeast Asia, that we didn’t have enough time to do so many things at home. But the business model took many iterations to develop as we gathered feedback from clients and spoke with many stakeholders to understand how we could better solve their different pain points. At a certain point, the business idea came to consist of two parts: our core mission of transforming urban living and our business model that we constantly refine to serve the mission.”





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Entrepreneurship

Facebook @ 15: Takeaways For Entrepreneurs


San Francisco , USA – June 30, 2013: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Marched With 700 Facebook Employees In San Francisco’s Gay Pride ParadeGetty

In February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched a fairly basic site, called TheFacebook.com, which allowed Harvard students to connect. At first, he considered it an ordinary project. But of course, the site would quickly become a growth machine.

Yet there were still many challenges for Zuckerberg. In the early days, he had to fend off fierce rivals, such as Friendster and MySpace. There were also challenges like scaling the infrastructure and dealing with privacy snafus.

Despite all this, Zuckerberg was able to win the war – and build one of the world’s most valuable companies.

So then, what are some of the lessons for entrepreneurs from this amazing journey? Well, let’s take a look:

Ronn Torossian, CEO and Founder of 5WPR:

“Right from the start, Facebook did an outstanding job of hiring the right talent. As an entrepreneur, you have to trust other people to work on other components of your business—as much as you want to, you can’t do everything yourself. Take Sheryl Sandberg for example. When Zuckerberg hired Sandberg, he gave himself the room to spend more time on his true strengths – improving the Facebook platform – while she ran more of the business operations like PR, expansions, communications, etc. A company is only as good as the people who work there, and Zuckerberg has always invested in hiring the right people to continuously grow and keep things fresh. Zuckerberg’s focus has always been on two things: having a crystal clear trajectory for the company and a great team driving it in this direction.”

Magnus Larsson, CEO of Rebtel:

“It’s impressive to see how Facebook has continued to bet on its original product, platform and vision, while adding value for the company and users. Mark wrote in a letter to his investors before becoming listed, ‘Facebook is created to make the world more open and connected. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share.’ Staying true to that vision led to two of the best acquisitions ever: Instagram and WhatsApp. Consumer tech companies should always keep an eye on the new kids on the block to avoid becoming antiquated. If someone else beats you to it, be open to partnerships or other ways of working together. Not every newcomer has to be a threat.”

From Ryan Kelly, the VP of Marketing at Nanigans:

“Facebook has truly turned into an advertising giant over the last fifteen years. What has enabled this is threefold: 1) the platform’s massive reach 2) the identity data within it and 3) the enormous internal investment around Facebook’s ad tech stack. While the first two points get most of the attention, what really enabled them to stand out from the rest of the players in the space was, and still is #3: the innovations around ad technology.

“2012/2013 was really the inflection point. ‘The Social Graph’ was unleashed in 2012 giving Facebook’s advertisers access to user behavioral data like never before. A year later Facebook introduced their conversion pixel, website custom audience pixel, lookalike audience tool, and video ads. This is where many advertisers went from trying to get ‘likes’ or ‘clicks’ to actually acquiring revenue generating customers.

“While it’s true that Facebook invented the news feed as we know it and has had many innovations on the consumer facing side of its business, the ad platform is the main reason the company is where it is today. And while the ad blueprint and tech behind Facebook’s success is often times imitated by their social competitors, it’s never been truly duplicated.”

Gil Sommer, Head of Product at Connatix:

“Facebook has shown us that listening to users, understanding their needs and adjusting products to their liking is a winning formula. Just look at Stories— this format was not invented by Facebook. Actually, they initially thought Stories wasn’t a great product and tried to provide alternatives. But their users were not happy, and Facebook listened. They understood that what makes the Stories format great is its immersive nature, and the freshness of the content. Facebook decided to react in a smart way. First, they adapted the format. Nonetheless, they still kept focus on their core competency (massive scale of visual UGC). This combination is one of the most successful stories — pun intended — in Facebook’s history and clearly they were able to outperform the original format. Facebook has shown us that adjusting course to your user’s needs is always a solid strategy. Keeping your core competencies in the process makes it a winning one.”

Robert Levenhagen, CEO and Co-Founder of InfluencerDB:

“From the relatively early stages, Facebook benefited a great deal from the environment of business and end-user applications around their platform. Their open API policies and growth attracted thousands and thousands of partners making their platform and products ever more user friendly. The downside of this open approach and hypergrowth showed when bad players took advantage of the opportunities and turned the good intention into bad results for the users and the general public. But Facebook has taken a lot of steps to right this wrong ever since.”

Tom serves on the advisory boards of tech startups and can be reached at his site.



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Why Your Next Startup Should Focus on Healthcare


Breakdowns exist in the healthcare system, specifically in the efficiency and accuracy of patient care. But that provides enterprising entrepreneurs with opportunities to fill those gaps through tech.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The healthcare job market is experiencing a boom.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment numbers jumped by 42,000 in January, with the industry having added a whopping 368,000 jobs over the previous year. A strong economic foundation has helped this boost, but so has availability of game-changing technology. New innovations opened up new opportunities, which in turn created more jobs.

However, as the healthcare industry continues to grow, so will its expenses, which could become unsustainable if left unaddressed. This might be worrisome to healthcare workers (especially newer ones). But for entrepreneurs looking for a healthcare entry point via technological innovation, now may be the perfect time to take a chance.

Related: How Technology can be Leveraged to Offer Personal Healthcare Management Services

Let tech cure what ails healthcare.

Breakdowns exist in the healthcare system, specifically in the efficiency and accuracy of patient care. Blockchain and similarly inclined tech solutions can fill those gaps, if any enterprising entrepreneur is willing to jump in.

Opportunities — small and large — exist for technology to improve the healthcare system. These are three pressing needs that leaders can address by integrating tech into their business models:

1. An improved information repository.

For a long time, healthcare providers were siloed and rarely shared data with others, leaving no room for the growth of an information ecosystem. For instance, different software standards make it harder for hospitals and emergency medical services to share data. However, if medical personnel could access patient records in real time, they could provide timely treatment and avoid harmful or fatal mistakes.

Because data has been siloed for so long, no provider has built a broad repository meant to analyze the correlation of data from a variety of medical sources. A repository powered by AI and blockchain could identify anomalies that could lead to the treatment, cure and prevention of a bevy of diseases.

Blockchain, for example, can be the conduit that helps healthcare bring those visions to reality. Right now, analytics decipher big data in order to understand micro-data points, which can yield inaccuracies. But because blockchain deals with data assets, that micro-data comes into focus and more accurate outcomes are reached. Blockchain allows healthcare data to be shared in a more secure and transparent way and maintains data integrity to protect it from manipulation.

Companies such as Healx are beginning to harness the power of AI for just this purpose. Healx uses machine learning to improve drug discovery and help find cures for rare diseases, research for which is often overlooked and underfunded. This type of repository is also perfect for blockchain, ensuring that data can be disseminated all over the globe safely and easily.

Related: 5 Ways Artificial Intelligence May Effect Health Care in the Near Future and What That Means for You

2. Better patient engagement.

Patient treatment shouldn’t begin and end inside the doctor’s office — it should start well before that. Technology presents an opportunity for healthcare leaders to develop solutions that improve the entire patient life cycle. The right patient care solution has the potential to boost patient experience, revenue life cycle, and profitability.

Some providers are already experimenting with AI to streamline the patient experience. Pharmacies are using smart calendar software that knows when patients need to make another visit or refill prescriptions. Some can even call patients to book appointments. AI-driven solutions will only become more necessary as healthcare systems such as the NHS face an increase in patients and a drop in qualified employees to handle them.

Entrepreneurs should prioritize AI projects that can help patients find the right doctors, hospitals, insurance solutions, and even the right medicine. If a startup can fill this gap, it’s a win-win for healthcare providers and their patients.

3. An automated collection of data.

According to a study by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, 86 percent of healthcare mistakes are administrative. People often lose health insurance or pay higher prices simply because of inaccurate data collection.

Robotic process automation could prevent many of these errors, offering a more accurate solution for collecting, processing and sharing data. Insurance startups such as Lemonade already use automated data collection to pay out claims almost instantly, with significantly fewer errors than traditional people-driven methods.

Here, again, blockchain offers a chance to create a better way of doing things for entrepreneurs looking to fill these gaps. Blockchain medical records and clinical trial data can provide new levels of security and ensure the integrity of data being collected.

Related: 3 Major Industries in Which Blockchain Technology Is Changing Life As We Know It

The healthcare system is bogged down by data silos and draconian data policies that help neither patients nor doctors. As costs rise and patient demand increases, healthcare companies will be desperate to find innovative and cost-efficient solutions that allow effective and efficient patient care. This environment is exactly where tech startups trying to find new ways to use blockchain and automation to drive the next big thing can flourish.



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Entrepreneurship

Why Your Next Startup Should Focus on Healthcare


Breakdowns exist in the healthcare system, specifically in the efficiency and accuracy of patient care. But that provides enterprising entrepreneurs with opportunities to fill those gaps through tech.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The healthcare job market is experiencing a boom.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment numbers jumped by 42,000 in January, with the industry having added a whopping 368,000 jobs over the previous year. A strong economic foundation has helped this boost, but so has availability of game-changing technology. New innovations opened up new opportunities, which in turn created more jobs.

However, as the healthcare industry continues to grow, so will its expenses, which could become unsustainable if left unaddressed. This might be worrisome to healthcare workers (especially newer ones). But for entrepreneurs looking for a healthcare entry point via technological innovation, now may be the perfect time to take a chance.

Related: How Technology can be Leveraged to Offer Personal Healthcare Management Services

Let tech cure what ails healthcare.

Breakdowns exist in the healthcare system, specifically in the efficiency and accuracy of patient care. Blockchain and similarly inclined tech solutions can fill those gaps, if any enterprising entrepreneur is willing to jump in.

Opportunities — small and large — exist for technology to improve the healthcare system. These are three pressing needs that leaders can address by integrating tech into their business models:

1. An improved information repository.

For a long time, healthcare providers were siloed and rarely shared data with others, leaving no room for the growth of an information ecosystem. For instance, different software standards make it harder for hospitals and emergency medical services to share data. However, if medical personnel could access patient records in real time, they could provide timely treatment and avoid harmful or fatal mistakes.

Because data has been siloed for so long, no provider has built a broad repository meant to analyze the correlation of data from a variety of medical sources. A repository powered by AI and blockchain could identify anomalies that could lead to the treatment, cure and prevention of a bevy of diseases.

Blockchain, for example, can be the conduit that helps healthcare bring those visions to reality. Right now, analytics decipher big data in order to understand micro-data points, which can yield inaccuracies. But because blockchain deals with data assets, that micro-data comes into focus and more accurate outcomes are reached. Blockchain allows healthcare data to be shared in a more secure and transparent way and maintains data integrity to protect it from manipulation.

Companies such as Healx are beginning to harness the power of AI for just this purpose. Healx uses machine learning to improve drug discovery and help find cures for rare diseases, research for which is often overlooked and underfunded. This type of repository is also perfect for blockchain, ensuring that data can be disseminated all over the globe safely and easily.

Related: 5 Ways Artificial Intelligence May Effect Health Care in the Near Future and What That Means for You

2. Better patient engagement.

Patient treatment shouldn’t begin and end inside the doctor’s office — it should start well before that. Technology presents an opportunity for healthcare leaders to develop solutions that improve the entire patient life cycle. The right patient care solution has the potential to boost patient experience, revenue life cycle, and profitability.

Some providers are already experimenting with AI to streamline the patient experience. Pharmacies are using smart calendar software that knows when patients need to make another visit or refill prescriptions. Some can even call patients to book appointments. AI-driven solutions will only become more necessary as healthcare systems such as the NHS face an increase in patients and a drop in qualified employees to handle them.

Entrepreneurs should prioritize AI projects that can help patients find the right doctors, hospitals, insurance solutions, and even the right medicine. If a startup can fill this gap, it’s a win-win for healthcare providers and their patients.

3. An automated collection of data.

According to a study by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, 86 percent of healthcare mistakes are administrative. People often lose health insurance or pay higher prices simply because of inaccurate data collection.

Robotic process automation could prevent many of these errors, offering a more accurate solution for collecting, processing and sharing data. Insurance startups such as Lemonade already use automated data collection to pay out claims almost instantly, with significantly fewer errors than traditional people-driven methods.

Here, again, blockchain offers a chance to create a better way of doing things for entrepreneurs looking to fill these gaps. Blockchain medical records and clinical trial data can provide new levels of security and ensure the integrity of data being collected.

Related: 3 Major Industries in Which Blockchain Technology Is Changing Life As We Know It

The healthcare system is bogged down by data silos and draconian data policies that help neither patients nor doctors. As costs rise and patient demand increases, healthcare companies will be desperate to find innovative and cost-efficient solutions that allow effective and efficient patient care. This environment is exactly where tech startups trying to find new ways to use blockchain and automation to drive the next big thing can flourish.



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Entrepreneurship

Why Your Next Startup Should Focus on Healthcare


Breakdowns exist in the healthcare system, specifically in the efficiency and accuracy of patient care. But that provides enterprising entrepreneurs with opportunities to fill those gaps through tech.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The healthcare job market is experiencing a boom.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment numbers jumped by 42,000 in January, with the industry having added a whopping 368,000 jobs over the previous year. A strong economic foundation has helped this boost, but so has availability of game-changing technology. New innovations opened up new opportunities, which in turn created more jobs.

However, as the healthcare industry continues to grow, so will its expenses, which could become unsustainable if left unaddressed. This might be worrisome to healthcare workers (especially newer ones). But for entrepreneurs looking for a healthcare entry point via technological innovation, now may be the perfect time to take a chance.

Related: How Technology can be Leveraged to Offer Personal Healthcare Management Services

Let tech cure what ails healthcare.

Breakdowns exist in the healthcare system, specifically in the efficiency and accuracy of patient care. Blockchain and similarly inclined tech solutions can fill those gaps, if any enterprising entrepreneur is willing to jump in.

Opportunities — small and large — exist for technology to improve the healthcare system. These are three pressing needs that leaders can address by integrating tech into their business models:

1. An improved information repository.

For a long time, healthcare providers were siloed and rarely shared data with others, leaving no room for the growth of an information ecosystem. For instance, different software standards make it harder for hospitals and emergency medical services to share data. However, if medical personnel could access patient records in real time, they could provide timely treatment and avoid harmful or fatal mistakes.

Because data has been siloed for so long, no provider has built a broad repository meant to analyze the correlation of data from a variety of medical sources. A repository powered by AI and blockchain could identify anomalies that could lead to the treatment, cure and prevention of a bevy of diseases.

Blockchain, for example, can be the conduit that helps healthcare bring those visions to reality. Right now, analytics decipher big data in order to understand micro-data points, which can yield inaccuracies. But because blockchain deals with data assets, that micro-data comes into focus and more accurate outcomes are reached. Blockchain allows healthcare data to be shared in a more secure and transparent way and maintains data integrity to protect it from manipulation.

Companies such as Healx are beginning to harness the power of AI for just this purpose. Healx uses machine learning to improve drug discovery and help find cures for rare diseases, research for which is often overlooked and underfunded. This type of repository is also perfect for blockchain, ensuring that data can be disseminated all over the globe safely and easily.

Related: 5 Ways Artificial Intelligence May Effect Health Care in the Near Future and What That Means for You

2. Better patient engagement.

Patient treatment shouldn’t begin and end inside the doctor’s office — it should start well before that. Technology presents an opportunity for healthcare leaders to develop solutions that improve the entire patient life cycle. The right patient care solution has the potential to boost patient experience, revenue life cycle, and profitability.

Some providers are already experimenting with AI to streamline the patient experience. Pharmacies are using smart calendar software that knows when patients need to make another visit or refill prescriptions. Some can even call patients to book appointments. AI-driven solutions will only become more necessary as healthcare systems such as the NHS face an increase in patients and a drop in qualified employees to handle them.

Entrepreneurs should prioritize AI projects that can help patients find the right doctors, hospitals, insurance solutions, and even the right medicine. If a startup can fill this gap, it’s a win-win for healthcare providers and their patients.

3. An automated collection of data.

According to a study by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, 86 percent of healthcare mistakes are administrative. People often lose health insurance or pay higher prices simply because of inaccurate data collection.

Robotic process automation could prevent many of these errors, offering a more accurate solution for collecting, processing and sharing data. Insurance startups such as Lemonade already use automated data collection to pay out claims almost instantly, with significantly fewer errors than traditional people-driven methods.

Here, again, blockchain offers a chance to create a better way of doing things for entrepreneurs looking to fill these gaps. Blockchain medical records and clinical trial data can provide new levels of security and ensure the integrity of data being collected.

Related: 3 Major Industries in Which Blockchain Technology Is Changing Life As We Know It

The healthcare system is bogged down by data silos and draconian data policies that help neither patients nor doctors. As costs rise and patient demand increases, healthcare companies will be desperate to find innovative and cost-efficient solutions that allow effective and efficient patient care. This environment is exactly where tech startups trying to find new ways to use blockchain and automation to drive the next big thing can flourish.



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Entrepreneurship

Is Y Combinator’s latest cohort too big? – TechCrunch


Greetings from Chittorgarh, one of my stops on a two-week excursion through Goa and Rajasthan, India. I’ve been a little too busy exploring, photographing cows and monkeys and eating a lot of delicious food to keep up with *all* the tech news, but I’ve still got the highlights.

For starters, if you haven’t heard yet, TechCrunch launched Extra Crunch, a paid premium subscription offering full of amazing content. As part of Extra Crunch, we’ll be doing deep dives on select businesses, beginning with Patreon. Read Patreon’s founding story here and learn how two college roommates built the world’s leading creator platform. Plus, we’ve got insights on Patreon’s product, business strategy, competitors and more.

Sign up for Extra Crunch membership here.

On to other news…

Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups is huge

So huge the Silicon Valley accelerator had to move locations and set up two stages at its upcoming demo days (March 18-19) to accommodate the more than 200 startups ready to pitch investors (who will have to hop between stages at the event). There will also be a virtual demo day live-streamed for some investors to watch “because there are so few seats.” Here’s what I’m wondering… At what point is a YC cohort too big? If investors aren’t even able to view all the companies at Demo Day, what exactly is the point? Send me your thoughts.

Deal of the week

Another week, another SoftBank deal. The Vision Fund’s latest bet is autonomous delivery. The Japanese telecom giant has invested $940 million in Nuro, the developer of a custom unmanned vehicle designed for last-mile delivery of local goods and services. The startup, also backed by Greylock and Gaorong Capital, will use the cash to expand its delivery service, add new partners, hire employees and scale up its fleet of self-driving bots. And while we’re on the subject of autonomous, TuSimple, a self-driving truck startup, has raised a $95 million Series D at a unicorn valuation.

Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman

The future of KPCB

TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos spoke with Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman, who joined Kleiner Perkins from Social Capital and Index Ventures, respectively. The pair talked about Kleiner Perkins, touching on people who’ve left the firm, how its decision-making process now works, why there are no senior women in its ranks and what they make of SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Here’s your weekly reminder to send me tips, suggestions and more to [email protected] or @KateClarkTweets

Facebook almost bought Unity

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered a multi-billion-dollar purchase of Unity, a game development platform. This is according to a new book coming out next week, “The History of the Future,” by Blake Harris, which digs deep into the founding story of Oculus and the drama surrounding the Facebook acquisition, subsequent lawsuits and personal politics of founder Palmer Luckey. Here’s more on the acquisition-that-could-have-been from TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney.

Venture capital funds

Indonesia-focused Intudo Ventures raised a new $50 million fund this week to invest in the world’s fourth most populated country; InReach Ventures, the “AI-powered” European VC, closed a new €53 million early-stage vehicle; and btov Partners closed an €80 million fund aimed at industrial tech startups.

Xiaomi-backed electric toothbrush startup Soocas raises $30M

Startup cash

Jobvite raises $200M+ and acquires three recruitment startups to expand its platform play
Opendoor files to raise another $200M
DriveNets emerges from stealth with $110M for its cloud-based alternative to network routers
Figma gets $40M Series C to put design tools in the cloud
Xiaomi-backed electric toothbrush Soocas raises $30 million Series C
Malt raises $28.6 million for its freelancer platform
Elevate Security announces $8M Series A to alter employee security behavior
Massless raises $2M to build an Apple Pencil for virtual reality

Subscription scooters

Just when you thought the scooter boom and the subscription-boom wouldn’t intersect, Grover arrived to prove you wrong. The startup is launching an e-scooter monthly subscription service in Germany. Their big idea is that instead of purchasing an e-scooter outright, GroverGo customers can enjoy unlimited e-scooter rides without the upfront costs or commitment of owning an e-scooter.

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and General Catalyst’s Niko Bonatsos chat startups.

Want more TechCrunch newsletters? Sign up here.





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Entrepreneurship

Is Y Combinator’s latest cohort too big? – TechCrunch


Greetings from Chittorgarh, one of my stops on a two-week excursion through Goa and Rajasthan, India. I’ve been a little too busy exploring, photographing cows and monkeys and eating a lot of delicious food to keep up with *all* the tech news, but I’ve still got the highlights.

For starters, if you haven’t heard yet, TechCrunch launched Extra Crunch, a paid premium subscription offering full of amazing content. As part of Extra Crunch, we’ll be doing deep dives on select businesses, beginning with Patreon. Read Patreon’s founding story here and learn how two college roommates built the world’s leading creator platform. Plus, we’ve got insights on Patreon’s product, business strategy, competitors and more.

Sign up for Extra Crunch membership here.

On to other news…

Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups is huge

So huge the Silicon Valley accelerator had to move locations and set up two stages at its upcoming demo days (March 18-19) to accommodate the more than 200 startups ready to pitch investors (who will have to hop between stages at the event). There will also be a virtual demo day live-streamed for some investors to watch “because there are so few seats.” Here’s what I’m wondering… At what point is a YC cohort too big? If investors aren’t even able to view all the companies at Demo Day, what exactly is the point? Send me your thoughts.

Deal of the week

Another week, another SoftBank deal. The Vision Fund’s latest bet is autonomous delivery. The Japanese telecom giant has invested $940 million in Nuro, the developer of a custom unmanned vehicle designed for last-mile delivery of local goods and services. The startup, also backed by Greylock and Gaorong Capital, will use the cash to expand its delivery service, add new partners, hire employees and scale up its fleet of self-driving bots. And while we’re on the subject of autonomous, TuSimple, a self-driving truck startup, has raised a $95 million Series D at a unicorn valuation.

Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman

The future of KPCB

TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos spoke with Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman, who joined Kleiner Perkins from Social Capital and Index Ventures, respectively. The pair talked about Kleiner Perkins, touching on people who’ve left the firm, how its decision-making process now works, why there are no senior women in its ranks and what they make of SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Here’s your weekly reminder to send me tips, suggestions and more to [email protected] or @KateClarkTweets

Facebook almost bought Unity

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered a multi-billion-dollar purchase of Unity, a game development platform. This is according to a new book coming out next week, “The History of the Future,” by Blake Harris, which digs deep into the founding story of Oculus and the drama surrounding the Facebook acquisition, subsequent lawsuits and personal politics of founder Palmer Luckey. Here’s more on the acquisition-that-could-have-been from TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney.

Venture capital funds

Indonesia-focused Intudo Ventures raised a new $50 million fund this week to invest in the world’s fourth most populated country; InReach Ventures, the “AI-powered” European VC, closed a new €53 million early-stage vehicle; and btov Partners closed an €80 million fund aimed at industrial tech startups.

Xiaomi-backed electric toothbrush startup Soocas raises $30M

Startup cash

Jobvite raises $200M+ and acquires three recruitment startups to expand its platform play
Opendoor files to raise another $200M
DriveNets emerges from stealth with $110M for its cloud-based alternative to network routers
Figma gets $40M Series C to put design tools in the cloud
Xiaomi-backed electric toothbrush Soocas raises $30 million Series C
Malt raises $28.6 million for its freelancer platform
Elevate Security announces $8M Series A to alter employee security behavior
Massless raises $2M to build an Apple Pencil for virtual reality

Subscription scooters

Just when you thought the scooter boom and the subscription-boom wouldn’t intersect, Grover arrived to prove you wrong. The startup is launching an e-scooter monthly subscription service in Germany. Their big idea is that instead of purchasing an e-scooter outright, GroverGo customers can enjoy unlimited e-scooter rides without the upfront costs or commitment of owning an e-scooter.

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and General Catalyst’s Niko Bonatsos chat startups.

Want more TechCrunch newsletters? Sign up here.





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Entrepreneurship

Wealthtech Nutmeg Doubles Down With Goldman’s Investment For Global Expansion


UK wealthtech Nutmeg recently completed a funding round of $58 million for global expansion co-led by Goldman Sachs. The move will likely see Goldman position Nutmeg alongside its retail savings platform Marcus.

Schroders, the 200 year old UK asset manager was an early investor in Nutmeg. Last year, Blackrock took a stake in the Anglo-German robo Scalabeable Capital to help it expand, following an investment in U.S. robo FutureAdvisor, which is selling B2B solutions to legacy wealth managers.

Tradition financial institutions and especially legacy banks are spending billions on technology and innovation to deliver digital solutions to better appeal to consumers, at the same time as driving down costs.

Banks like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo have been working on their own robo solutions with Wells launching ThinkAdvisor. These along with startup robos in the U.S. like Wealthfront and Betterment are all competing with legacy asset managers like Vanguard, Fidelity and Charles Schwab all of whom have launched their own robo platforms.

One of the big focus areas in on the main prize – a new segment of digitally savy generation x to y millenial consumers positioned to inherit wealth over the next decade from the most successful generation of wealth accumulators in history, the baby boomers – their parents and grandparents.

Nutmeg was founded by Nick Hungerford, a former Barclays Banker and Stanford University post-graduate who saw the early opportunities in wealthtech. Nick now sits on the Board of Nutmeg, overseeing his creation and resides in Singapore where he is busy in the community with a number of exciting projects.

An early mover and visionary in the fintech space, Nick was a co-founder of Innovate Finance, the U.K.’s not-for-profit fintech members association, and a fellow board member during my tenure as CEO in the halcyon days of our member growth and fintech ecosystem building.

I sat down with Nick to talk about what attracted Goldman to Nutmeg, the strengths of Nutmeg’s offering, the future of the Wealth Management sector, and what’s going on in the Singapore fintech community.

Lawrence Wintermeyer: What attracted Goldman Sachs to invest in Nutmeg in this latest round?

Nick Hungerford: I believe there are three primary reasons: first, they see the potential of Nutmeg as a stand-alone business and the opportunity for financial return as a shareholder. Second, the opportunity for partnership development and the chance that Nutmeg can be rocket fuel for the Goldman strategy to move more into the retail market. Third, shared insights and vision: Nutmeg can learn a lot from Goldman and hopefully, Goldman will learn a bit from us. The learnings aren’t just about financial products and investing, for example, Goldman has a huge number of amazing engineers Nutmeg can learn tech skills from. We can discuss culture and customer insights etc.

Lawrence Wintermeyer: With $1.5 billion in assets under management, Nutmeg has become a scale wealthech player, what are the new global markets on the roadmap,  will we see Nutmeg entering the US market?

Nick Hungerford: First of all Nutmeg will focus on consolidating our dominant position in the UK and scaling into Asia. After that, and on a selective basis, we will look to Europe and the US. Our partnerships with Goldman, Fubon and Convoy set us up well for international expansion.

Wintermeyer: The client proposition and user engagement platform in Nutmeg is recognized for standing out in a crowded marketplace, what’s in the secret sauce that attracts and retains customers to the platform?

Hungerford: Funnily enough given the recent Goldman announcement, I said in 2012 that I wanted customers of Nutmeg to feel like they were walking into Goldman Sachs’ Private Bank when they became customers of Nutmeg. It’s a simple ethos to overly commit to giving our clients great service – more than that, great care – when they work with us. It’s about sharing their experiences, for example feeling the pain when markets fall, by being customers ourselves. There are lots of technical answers to this question as well: we try and learn more about our customers all of the time to provide them with a personalized experience and so on. But the real secret lies in the care and concern that we have to ensure no Nutmeg customer feels anything other than we are doing all we can for them.

Wintermeyer: Consumers have moved from actively managed funds to passive funds and ETFs in large scale in the West, and we are seeing a rise in “algos” for systematic investment management and all of these trends are leading to lower costs for investors.  What is Nutmeg’s underlying investment management strategy?

Hungerford: Our belief is that investors should focus on asset allocation to determine the risk reward balance (or target) and then implement that strategy using the lowest cost methodology possible. Clearly, this has to be low cost within reason and we need to factor in liquidity of securities, etc. Time and again cost have been shown to be critical drivers of returns.

Wintermeyer: 2018 saw greater volatility emerge in most asset classes with the equity markets underperforming the previous years’ bull run. How will the wealthtech challengers survive a downturn and poor performance in the equity markets?

Hungerford: I don’t think all wealthtech or fintech companies will survive a prolonged downturn. There are circa 550 “Nutmegs” around the world now and it’s hard to see how they can all compete when customer acquisition costs mean that payback is not instant. I think we will see two or three major players in each region emerge.

Wintermeyer: A number of successful challenger wealthtechs including Nutmeg now have legacy wealth management shareholders. How challenging is the future market for legacy wealth managers? Is investment in wealthtech challengers part of a strategy for incumbents to meet those future challenges?

Hungerford: I think it’s a smart strategy for them! I happen to think – and this is not a view shared by all of my wealthtech peers – that there is still a place, and lots to learn, from incumbent wealth managers. Many of them offer a great service to their clients, they have moments of innovation brilliance and there excellent leaders in some companies. That said, they have aging client bases and must adapt to changing digital times. Nutmeg can’t get complacent: as the oldest digital wealth manager people will be calling us legacy soon!

Wintermeyer: What is the story behind why you started Nutmeg and what were the early days of the journey like?

Hungerford: I don’t want to think about it! I was moving between friends houses in California, then the same in London before my sister and her now husband took me in. I was constantly getting rejected by investors who said that there was no way regulators would allow wealth management to be done without a face to face relationship. And of course, I wasn’t earning any money! The passion was there because I had friends and family who wanted to be doing more with their money than just putting it in a zero percent deposit account. And I’d worked in wealth management and knew that investing was eminently scalable.

Wintermeyer: You moved from Tier 1 banker to Nutmeg founder and entrepreneur CEO, to Nutmeg board member and now venture capitalist. How has this journey been for you and what are some of your biggest lessons learned?

Hungerford: My two biggest lessons would be first, humility. It’s definitely something I lacked in banking because you have such smart, amazing people around you that you don’t realize you are being carried along and start to believe your own hype. There is none of that in entrepreneurship, whereas a founder you are resupplying the toilet roll and constantly getting told your idea sucks. Second, loyalty. The shareholders who give you money at the start deserve huge credit. And I’m so grateful to them. They will get first dibs on future businesses I start!

Wintermeyer: You are now based in Singapore,  what is your outlook for the fintech in Asia, and how key is the Singapore hub to the development of the fintech ecosystem in South Asia?

Hungerford: Fintech here is taking off, with tremendous learning from overseas facilitating startups and of course some amazing companies in China that I think are some years ahead of anything in the U.S. or U.K. There are amazing possibilities for entrepreneurs here. However, there are structural issues – particularly in South East Asia – where the lack of passporting between countries means that there are small markets to go after.

With some more cooperation between regulators and governments, I can see South East Asia becoming possibly the world’s leading fintech hub. Singapore is leading the way and has a regulator challenging the FCA for the title of world’s most progressive. They need more countries around to follow their lead. For fintech enterprises outside of Asia it’s critical they keep one eye on what’s happening here if they don’t want to be left behind.

Nick Hungerford is a former banker and the founder of Nutmeg and is passionate about improving the availability and usability of financial products and services, financial literacy and the role of technology and innovation within the finance sector.

 



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