I often get a tad too excited when I'm writing a report like this. This time was no different and I ended up coding VC Watcher. It's a completely free newsletter that keeps subscribers in the loop about recent investments by top VCs.
Maybe by the end of this report you'll be just as hyped as I am and sign up.
- Even if you have zero interest in playing the VC game, it can make a lot of sense to keep an eye on the ecosystem.
- VCs spent a lot of time talking to smart people or reading research reports, and they have access to all kinds of resources outsiders don't.
- Top VCs have a good track record of spotting the next big wave before anyone else.
- For example, VCs were investing heavily in AI and blockchain startups long before the mainstream started to pay attention.
- But of course VCs are not just good at predicting technological trends but also at spotting the next unicorn.
- This is especially interesting if you're planning to strap to yourself to the back of someone else's rocket
- So, what are VCs investing in right now? And most importantly, what are related opportunities you can pounce on? Let's dive in.
📊 The Data
- All publicly known investments made by VCs on the Midas List of the world’s best venture capitalists during the past 90 days.
- Opportunities Pro members can access the data here.
- Chronosphere seems like the most promising bet on the list with three investments from Midas List VCs (Lee Fixel, Brian Singerman, Anton Levy).
- They recently raised 200M in a Series C.
- The declared goal of the New York based company is to "develop a scalable, reliable, and customizable monitoring solution for cloud-native applications".
- The Org looks at first glance like a typically Indie Hacker project.
- However, they recently raised a $20M Series B with investments from Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund.
- I mean, why the heck do you need so much money for a software that creates pretty org charts?
- Apparently there's some secret masterplan going on (something related to recruiting) and it will definitely be fun to watch it unfold.
- AppsForBharat is a product studio "focused on building apps for spiritual and devotional needs of Indian users" that recently raised a $10M Series A from investors like Saurabh Gupta and Scott Shleifer.
- Bharat is the name for India in various Indian languages
- So far they've released one app called Sri Mandir.
- This flagship app can probably best described as some gamified Hindu version of Calm.
- According to their website, the app already has 1M install even though there is no iOS version yet.
- Bzaar is an online B2B cross-border marketplace for products like home improvements, fashion, cookware, bakeware, etc for small businesses.
- Their current focus is connecting retailers in the US with over 50 export-ready manufacturers in India. Think: AliBaba for India.
- They recently raised a $4M seed round, including money from Midas List nominee Lee Fixel.
- Cord offers an API to add Slack-like collaboration features to any app.
- They recently raised a $17.5M Series A, including money from Jan Hammer (Index Ventures).
- Ultrahuman describes itself as the "world's most advanced metabolic fitness platform."
- To me it seems like a mix between Levels and Whoop.
- They recently raised a $17.5M Series B round, which included money from Scott Shleifer.
🔑 Key Observations
- The dominant industries top VCs are betting on are AI, fintech, and health care, closely followed by cryptocurrency startups, analytics tools, and biotech startups.
- Surprisingly unpopular are e-learning startups, mobile apps, and social networks. For each of these categories, just three startups appear on the list. The only true social networks are CallIn (social podcasting) and Cent (social NFT marketplace), wheras Karrot (the third startup labeled as a social network) is primarily a marketplace with some social aspects.
- The sustainability trend is still going strong with startups like Sourceful ("help businesses find environmentally sustainable packaging for their products") and Misfits Market (subscription box service for organically sourced produce) getting funding from top VCs.
- Given all the hype around social shopping in Asia, it's definitely noteworthy that just one related startup appears on the list: Flip, which is a social shopping app that connects customers to beauty products through video.
- While San Fransisco is the most common location for startups on the list (19.2%) it's not that far ahead. New York (15%) comes surprisingly close. At the third spot, we have Bangalore and London (both 4.2%). Despite all the hype there's not a single Miami startup on the list.
- By far the most popular domain endings are .com (68.6%), .io (7.1%), ai (7.1%) and .co (5.7%).
- Brainstorm which popular software is still lacking a proper multiplayer mode.
- Figma and Google Docs famously did this for Photoshop and Microsoft Word.
- Now with Cord's API it's easier than ever to apply this playbook, even in niches.
- The list of the most viewed apps at Alternativeto.net is a great place to start. (Look out for a missing "Team Collaboration" tag.)
- Brainstorm what other proven playbook or feature still needs to be unlocked for the masses.
- Cord does it for the singleplayer -> multiplayer playbook.
- Similarly, thanks to Agora anyone can, just like Clubhouse, add real-time audio and video to their app.
- Start building analytics tools for sellers on emerging marketplaces.
- JungleScout is a sales analytics tool for Amazon sellers that's making millions in yearly revenue and recently raised $110M.
- Similar tools exist for all other established marketplaces like Etsy, Ebay, and Alibaba.
- But for newer marketplaces there's typically no such tools yet and hence and opportunity to build the go-to resource.
- Interesting marketplaces VCs are betting on right now are Aalto, Tundra, Cent and Bzaar.
- Start building automation tools for sellers on emerging marketplaces.
- My favorite example in this category is Closet Tools ($26k MRR) which automates common tasks for Poshmark powersellers.
- Similar tools can be built for new marketplaces like Grailed (basically Poshmark for Guys which recently raised $60M including money from Index Ventures) and Karrot ("hyperlocal secondhand marketplace").
- Whoop for the Apple Watch.
- As mentioned above, Ultrahuman recently raised $17.5M to build a Levels competitor.
- Basically they want to build a WHOOP-like app that generates insights from blood glucose data instead of just heart rate data (which is what WHOOP does).
- I've talked about this opportunity before, but a much lower-hanging related fruit is to build an app like WHOOP (now valued at more than $3B) for the Apple Watch.
- Unlike what Ultrahuman is planning to do this doesn't require any additional hardware.
- There is still no great app that takes the data every Apple Watch user has access to (HRV in particular) and translates it into actionable insights ala WHOOP.
- Even though I know nothing about iOS development I'm very, very tempted to build it myself, primarily because I'd be it's first happy users and know there are many people like me.
- Built an app at the intersection of spiritual offerings and gaming.
- AppsForBharat is doing this successfully for Hindus.
- What would an app like their flaship Sri Mandi for other religions look like?
- Build ResQ for X.
- ResQ is an all-in-one app to request, track and pay for a restaurant's repair and maintenance needs.
- They recently raised a $39M Series A from investors like Jeff Jordan.
- What other highly fragmented industries have regular maintenance needs?
- Gyms and flower shops are just two examples I'm seeing through the window of the coffee shop I'm sitting in right now.
If you enjoyed this report, you'll probably like VC Watcher. I'd love to hear what you think!
PS: You might have noticed that I didn't talk about any blockchain companies. The reason is that I had to cut all related opportunities from this report as it was getting a bit too long and I've now decided to talk about them in a dedicated Web 3 report.