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Taking a page out of Y Combinator’s playbook, I thought I would put together a quick RFS (Request for Startups). The purpose is to share what areas we have been looking to invest in these days, and connect with entrepreneurs that are either building or thinking about building a company in one or more of these categories. Y Combinator’s RFS covers quite a lot of areas (22 at the time I am writing this), so there will inevitably be some overlap. This is also a much shorter list, but I’ll add more over time.
Anyone that remembers Sega VR or the Nintendo Virtual Boy will likely roll their eyes at the hype. But if you have ever tried on an Oculus Rift, then you probably understand why this time it is different. With several head mounted displays (HMDs) already on the market and Oculus expected to launch their consumer product next year, we could be right at the dawn of the biggest wave of new startups since the iPhone.
There are many more applications beyond just gaming to think about too. Jaunt is creating cinematic quality VR, so that one day we may be able to enjoy Jurassic Park or Star Wars as if we were actually there with the characters. Perhaps one day there will be 360° cameras placed around concert venues, so that unlimited tickets could be sold to a virtual audience. We have no idea how far VR could go, but we’d like to meet entrepreneurs with wild imaginations.
We launched MYCODE (those in the US would equate it to 23andme) with a vision to give people access to their genetic make up and understand which diseases they are prone to so that they can make important lifestyle changes. This type of preventive healthcare could not be possible without the nexus of biology and IT —an area we feel has the the potential to radically transform our lives over the next two decades.
We are interested in founders with ambitious goals to hack at biology and improve lives.
mHealth & Telemedicine
A world where everyone has a computer in their pocket creates new opportunities for tracking and diagnosing patients. Growing smartphone penetration in developing markets has also made it possible to provide greater access to quality healthcare at scale. We would be interested in meeting entrepreneurs that have found creative ways to use smartphones in this space.
The internet has largely leveled the playing field for aspiring content creators, and agencies play a less important role in creators’ ability to reach fans. Any tools that empower creators to cut out middlemen or distribute content in new ways will benefit from this shift.
Earlier this year we invested in Famebit, a marketplace for brands to find YouTubers and create content such as tutorials, hauls, or product reviews. We have seen firsthand how valuable this service has been to both brands that need content and YouTubers that need to support themselves. We are actively looking for more companies that similarly empower the creators.
Media & Entertainment
As more people worldwide gain access to reliable and affordable internet through smartphones, diverse content will be more important. What may have previously been dismissed as niche could have audiences in the several millions. Large content destinations like YouTube could be “unbundled” into different verticals like Food, Sports, Travel, etc. We’ve already seen that happen in gaming with Twitch and Kamcord (a company that we invested in). We don’t see why it couldn’t happen to other verticals as well.
We are also on the lookout for new ways for users to create content and distribute to their fans. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and more and more people are consuming content on their smartphones. We’d like to see startups that take these shifts into account.
The Mobile Revolution
While some would argue that the mobile revolution is nearing maturity, we believe that there is still blue ocean to be sailed. Long after Uber or Instagram, we have seen eye-opening smartphone use cases. One app allows you to take a picture of a car after an accident to send relevant information and your location to insurance companies and repair shops. Another allows you to take a picture of a skin problem and receive a personalized treatment plan from a dermatologist within 24 hours.
We’d like to talk to more founders that have found creative ways of solving problems using smartphones.
Too much of people’s time is spent on getting from point A to point B. Whether you are driving down a traffic-jammed road, squeezing into a crowded train, or sitting on a several hour flight, transportation is a huge pain point for most people worldwide. We’d like to see entrepreneurs finding innovative ways to make this faster, more convenient, and more affordable for everyone.
Rocket Internet Alumni
This is not an idea, but a type of founder or founding team that we’d be interested in meeting.
You’ve been in the trenches at Rocket Internet, learned what you need to know, and are now ready to strike out on your own. You’re through with doing all the grunt work for little equity and recognition. If this sounds like you, we’d like to talk to you.