Welcome to my new blog, vcwithme, where I periodically share my thoughts and experiences about looking for and working with great entrepreneurs to help grow businesses. In life (work life), there is thinking, meeting and doing. Those three get very blurred as a VC. Meetings all day – try to analyze quick, be useful and move on to the next – but always a risk of being only reactive. Blogging is my way of taking time to think, sort, categorize my thinking and experiences… ultimately to be more pro-active and effective for my investors and entrepreneur partners. I hope others can benefit. I’ve been blogging for a few months now on BuiltInChicago (BIC) and have decided to now make it my own with vcwithme. I love BIC and look forward to posting updates I make here… there.
What is the difference between GrubHub and Zagat? Grubhub is a transaction model worth XBillion and Zagat was an information (read: data) model that sold for only $151 Million.
I rarely blog about a portco… too shameless a plug. But this week’s National Parking Association meeting in Chicago and the opportunity parking represents to entrepreneurs and investors is too good a learning example to pass up sharing thoughts on the parking industry and HPVP portcoParkWhiz.
I spoke in my last post about the role of hardware in releasing data to drive insight, to decision making and ultimately to action as shown below. The premise is that services/software that help you take action are simply more valuable than information or data alone. Grubhub vs Zagat is a great example of this. It is not a coincidence that transaction is spelled trans-ACTION.
As the restaurant industry was ripe for online transaction disruption 5 years ago, the parking industry is ripe now. HPVP’s portfolio company, ParkWhiz, and Chicago competitor SpotHero are working to bring the offline parking industry online (note: you know where my bet is – on ParkWhiz the industry leader – but I can’t blog in good conscience without intellectual honesty!).
There are a number of digital parking models out there, but what got us excited about ParkWhiz is that they play at the transaction level. While there are parking data services (BestParking andFasPark) who find parking prices and availability, ParkWhiz’s ability to transact on the fly creates a tremendous amount of value by completely solving the consumer’s problem. They literally turn data into action. This is also true of our investment in SimpleRelevance, which crunches disparate data feeds to drive consumers to trans-action via 1:1 e-mail campaigns.
With the connected car on its way, mobile parking trans-action becomes more important and valuable, a powerful concept described in the linked article by ParkWhiz CEO, Aashish Dalal. In Eric Schmidt’s recent interview at the Economic Club of Chicago, he mentioned that Google self-driven cars are amazingly good at safely finding their way around – occasionally stumbling if a cop is directing traffic. But for every moment in motion, a car has many more moments parked… and for each trip, there is an end where parking must be found. Connected cars will need the ability to find and buy parking to create a seamless user experience from point A to point B – whether you or your computer is at the wheel.
This is all classic offline to online disruption, and in some ways it is amazing that it is still happening almost 20 years into the internet. Yet we don’t even have to go beyond the connected car to find more opportunity: fillups, repair, dating (hmmm).
So if you’re thinking about your next big startup, think about what services help businesses and consumers act and trans-act… not swim in data. As with GrubHub, transaction has an order of magnitude more value than data alone. In the meantime, shameless plug: find your Chicago parking at ParkWhiz.