My dream portfolio in 2018

Last year I wrote down what my dream venture portfolio would be, assuming I had the capital and they’d take my money.

Everyone from 2017 is still alive and kicking but thought I should write about companies I’d back that are new to me this year.

While most of these are “venture scale” companies a few aren’t. The older I get the more I appreciate the bootstrapped business but think it needs a better moniker than “lifestyle”.

Lambda School – “Lambda School trains people online to be software engineers at no up-front cost. Instead of paying tuition, students can agree to pay a percentage of their income after they’re employed, and only if they’re making more than $50k per year. If you don’t find a job, or don’t reach that level of income, you’ll never pay a cent.”

  • Higher education is broken and “traditional” universities are failing to adapt to the digital age. Tuition is at an all-time high and there is more debate than ever as to the ROI of a four-year degree. With the current model of higher education, the student bears the entirety of the risk and the institution has no skin in the game. If a student gets a job or doesn’t their alma mater still receives the same tuition dollar. What’s innovative about Lambda School’s model is that it flips this equation on its head. Students don’t pay until they are placed in a well-paid job AND there is a cap on the payment. If the student doesn’t get a well-paid job the school earns no money. This is a novel way to align incentives. I took one of Lambda’s mini boot camps and was impressed with their rigor.  What is also novel about their business is that it opens up opportunities to a class of people who previously could never dream of (or afford) a college degree. Many folks (self-included) are able to get to college thanks to loans and support from family. When the financial burden is modified in a way that benefits all, it brings more people to the table. More from one of my favorite economics on income share agreements. 

Upgraded – “UPGRADED tickets bring trust to ticketing. Leveraging cryptographic algorithms, we support secure transactions while enabling smart tickets.” 

  • I know just enough about blockchain to be dangerous but I know one of the big issues to tackle is the “double spend problem“. The ticketing world is rife with fraudsters both online and off. The most expensive the event the larger potential for fraud. Upgraded helps solve this problem and reduces fraud across the ecosystem.

Udelv – “udelv builds the world’s most experienced self-driving delivery vehicles. udelv is revolutionizing transportation with an autonomous vehicle built specifically for last-mile delivery. With thousands of deliveries already completed, udelv’s end-to-end autonomous delivery solution fits seamlessly into any business.”

  • The easy bet in the self-driving space is Tesla, Uber, Amazon or a major automaker. Udelv is taking a novel route tackling last mile delivery. They are already rolling out delivery with Walmart and other national brands.

Rankscience – ” RankScience is an automated SEO platform that improves your website’s SEO through A/B testing and data science.”

Epibone –  ” EpiBone is a revolutionary bone reconstruction company that grows living bone tissue from patients’ own cells.”

Fomo – “Fomo delivers social proof to create website conversion momentum. The Fomo app does this by enabling online experience that feels like a busy store. .. Fomo empowers honest businesses to get the traction they deserve through instant social proof.”

  • Digital marketing is quickly becoming a race to zero with Facebook and Google taking 90%+ of growth (and here comes Amazon). Sadly the internet seems to be full of bait and switch marketing tactics. I think alot about word of mouth and social proof marketing for both my business and the ones I’m involved with and think Fomo helps companies be more honest in their marketing.