If we believe that 10–20 years from now, there will be some new and highly successful companies that were built in the years around COVID-19; what would their product or services be?
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. — Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’
Now, more than ever, the world needs courageous entrepreneurs from all walks of life, and from every corner of the planet, to innovate like never before. As humanity finds itself at the existential crossroads of survival, both in the tight grip of the aggressive COVID-19 pandemic as well as in the resulting ripples of heightened macroeconomic and political insecurity, we are left with a fundamentally changed world in dire need of vivid imagination and brave leadership.
Some areas where new technology will be created and adopted in an accelerated manner
● Sanitation tech
● Governance tech
● Healthcare tech
● Future of work
● Future of education
● eSports / Gaming technology
History has shown time and again that adversity tends to foment the kind of environment necessary to advance major innovation. It is during those times of crisis — where problems increasingly pop out of thin air — that humanity, somehow, is forced out of its conformity to tackle the surplus of challenges head-on with the most unlikely of approaches and solutions. Given that there is no shortage of problems in our world today, it becomes crystal clear that we are about to enter a new golden age of global growth and innovation. And startups will lead the way ahead. This means that now is the chance for entrepreneurs everywhere to innovate across the broad spectrum of problems on this planet. From governance, to pollution and inequality, to education, hunger, and disease, there is an endless supply of opportunity for all.
Regardless of what sectors stay/get disrupted; one clear winner from this pandemic will be the tech industry
If you are not convinced that crisis is prime time for entrepreneurs, keep in mind that some of the most important companies today were born out of global crises, adversity, and economic meltdowns: General Motors, Facebook, IBM,Google, Disney, HP, Uber, General Electric, Pinterest, Trader Joe’s, Salesforce, Netflix, Hyatt, Cloudera, Microsoft, Airbnb, FedEx, Venmo, Instagram, Slack, Whatsapp, Square, Revlon, Warby Parker, MTV, among others.
But how did those iconic brands launch, let alone survive, and eventually transform into world-class business titans? The word is adaptability. When we founded the NetworkVC Investor Outreach Accelerator, we did so with the goal of helping entrepreneurs succeed. And we understand that success in the startup game entails much more than having a game-changing idea, a strong team, and loads of capital. We firmly believe that to succeed, entrepreneurs need a strong community and support network that will help them prepare for the big challenges and bigger opportunities that await ahead. Moreover, they need resilience.
We believe that recovery is inevitable
As such, our mission is to make the knowledge, network, and the communities that develop around strong accelerator programs available to everyone regardless of stage and location in the world. That is why our two-month accelerator programs for Seed & Series C companies, including content and interactions, are 100% online and remote. Given that hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs now need to shelter in place and stay at home, NetworkVC.org has a bigger and brighter opportunity than ever to help more startups become resilient amidst the waves of chaos.
Our Criteria and Sectors:
We only consider selected companies. Our entrepreneurs need to meet minimum investment criteria which we define our target amend as follow:
- $100k annual revenue (realized or reasonably projected)
- preferably: previous angel or VC round & exited accelerator or incubator program
- validated product-market fit
- have started international expansion
- seeking Seed, Series A and Series B VC rounds in growth capital up to $100m
Other than the above we look for companies that bear the following traits:
- Compelling market opportunity
- Sustainable competitive advantage through technology, product or process
- Product / market fit
- Solid unit economics
- Referenceable customer base
- Proven management team
Generally our assessment methodology is driven utilizing Peter Theil’s framework of analyzing a startup’s “value”
Read: Billionaire Co-Founder of Paypal Recommends Asking Yourself These 7 Questions Before Starting Your Startup
(Except copied from the article above)
1. Can you create breakthrough technologies instead of incremental improvements?
(The Engineering Question)
Peter Thiel says that great technology should have proprietary knowledge, an order of magnitude better than its nearest substitute or closest competitor. Remember, only when your product is 10x better can you offer transparent superiority. The billionaire co-founder of Paypal and Palantir is a big fan of innovation and by innovation, I mean creating something entirely new out of nothing. He also adds that the only way to move the human race forward is by innovation and not copying from other established businesses.
2. Is this the right time to start your particular business?
(The Timing Question)
Imagine starting Uber in 2004 instead of 2008, where the smartphone infrastructure isn’t quite established. My guess, it would most likely fail. Just like the other ridesharing business that has been launched prior to 2008. Uber wouldn’t have found its momentum and market without the normalizations of smartphones nowadays. That’s what these questions mean.
Start by asking these simple questions:
Is it too early?
Is it the right time?
Is it too late?
Are you entering an existing market with the product?
Is it a slow-moving market, or a fast-moving one?
3. Are you starting a big share of a small market?
(The Monopoly Question)
The Paypal co-founder highly recommends always start from a small market or niche and scale from there, making sure it’s your right market. He also added that If you can’t monopolize a unique solution for a small market, you’ll be stuck with vicious competition. Every startup or business is small at the start. Every monopoly dominates a large share of its market. Always go on the side of starting too small.
The reason is simple: it’s easier to dominate a small market than a large one. If you think your starting market is too big, it almost certainly is.
4. Do you have the right team?
(The People Question) Very important!
Having the right team and the right co-founders are a crucial process of building a successful startup. A wrong and misaligned co-founder could ruin the company’s momentum and image. That’s why it’s relatively important to bring aboard co-founders that you can deeply trust, that you know very well (at least for 1 year), and that can bring something valuable to the table.
Other than that, in order for you to succeed and to gain momentum, your team should be passionate, persistent, tenacious, and relentless. Peter Thiel recommends avoiding hiring remote workers, consultants (create culture instead), and even part-time employees in the early days of your venture.
5. Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
(The Distribution Question)
There’s a common mistake in Silicon Valley that’s pretty much popular nowadays. They think when they build an amazing product, the customers and users will just come on. Well, let me tell you. It will never happen! You have to find a way to deliver and distribute it. Peter Thiel emphasizes that selling and delivering the product is at least as important as the product itself.
He also adds that selling your company to the media is a necessary part of selling it to everyone else. You can never expect people to buy a superior product merely in its obvious merits without any distribution strategy, you should never assume that people will admire your company without any public relations strategy. Remember the press can help to attract investors and employees.
6. Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years in the future?
(The Durability Question)
Most startups fail because they failed to see how the future will look like for them and for their product. For startup founders and entrepreneurs, it’s important to live in the now but also important to live in the future. Find the balance. Make sure you have a vision and part of what makes this question particularly great is that it can teach you how to be a visionary, like Steve Jobs.
Peter tells that always goes for long-term thinking and planning and aims to be the last mover of a particular market. He also mentions how important the idea of making projections, both financial and market. He believes that these are crucial materials in the startup world. Who are we to say no to him right? If there’s one thing Thiel has proven is that he always proved to be right when it comes to startup, technology, and innovation.
For example, Tesla’s instance had a head start in its field, and its design and technology are moving faster than anybody else — its lead is widening all the time. It also has a distinct and trustworthy brand, which has consumer envy. Given that buying a car is one of the biggest purchasing decisions people make, having trust in a brand is a hard thing to win — Tesla has that trust where others don’t. Similarly, Apple has that brand trust, which is very hard to displace.
7. Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?
(The Secret Question)
This question is a fairly important question not only for startup founders and entrepreneurs, but also for scientists, professors, and even college students. Albert Einstein highlighted how great innovation comes with great imagination. He also said, “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Having knowledge is important, but what makes well-knowledged people greater is their ability to have imagination. Imagination gives you wings to fly. Peter Thiel in his book recommends looking where other people don’t see because he strongly believes that the best opportunities do lie in secrets. All great companies are built upon finding answers to secrets, this is the heart of innovation. Just take for example Airbnb and Uber or how Albert Einstein found the Theory of Relativity.
Secrets are problems that have an answer, but nobody has figured it out yet or we can say they’re waiting to be uncovered, you just gotta find them. Secrets of the environment are mostly figured out, but the secrets of human nature still have left for new entrepreneurs, inventors, and creators to find opportunities. So, go find and go observe!
“Great companies have secrets: specific reasons for success that other people don’t see.” — Peter Thiel
What is the vision for NetworkVC.org?
We are building a portfolio of top emerging technologies that will allows us to fuel Corporate and Government Innovation for the next 100 years to come.
By working closely with and adding value to each cohort company at the point of fundraise, we establish a deep understanding of the underlying business models, growth strategies, limitations/opportunities for global expansion, uniqueness of intellectual property, as well as earn the good will of our entrepreneurs. We hypothesize that once we have worked with 500–1000 companies over the next few years, we will be sitting on solutions that can enable us to change nations, make lives better and shape a better future.
Who are we
NetworkVC.org is run by international team of startup operators, mentors, coaches, and investors who are geographically located in startup and innovation ecosystems all over the world. With outstanding expertise and professional attitude, our team members have helped over 850 startups succeed, led about 300 investments in more than 20 verticals. Our team has worked with some of the most ground breaking companies that have sprung up in the last decade. These include companies across a variety of sectors such as: advanced robotics, income sharing agreement platforms, insur-tech, genomic sequencing, artificial Intelligence, drones, construction, food delivery, and many more.
Learn more: https://www.networkvc.org/our-globalvc-network