22 February 2017
We spend a lot of time thinking about the future and we see huge potential for technology (particularly data science and artificial intelligence) to dramatically improve productivity and customer experience in many sectors. Here are some areas that we see as ripe for change. If you happen to be working on an idea in any of these areas please let us know, we’d love to help you to bring your ideas to life.
Of course, we won’t pick you for the H2 Startup Accelerator just because you are working on one of these, in fact we never back an idea alone, we back entrepreneurs. You need to be passionate about your business, you need to have energy and you need to be a doer, if you are going to make it through the rollercoaster ride that is the startup journey. If you have these characteristics and happen to be working on a great product or service in one of these areas (or any other area you think we might be interested in) then please let us know!
This request for startups will update regularly as technology continues its forward march, creating new opportunities.
The exponential growth of data being produced every day provides huge opportunities and equally large problems. We are interested in technologies that enable a faster transfer of information or processing of transactions. We also like startups that are looking at dealing with large volumes of data more efficiently.
We like predictive analytics, marketing intelligence and customer/audience intelligence. We also like people doing clever things with spiders/robots and chatbots (e.g. risk analysis, sentiment analysis and automated research).
Computer mind interfaces – also of interest are startups using technology for faster and better human understanding of data whether that be augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, direct computer mind interfaces or human augmentation (i.e. combining the best of computers and people for better decision making).
We love A.I. and are always on the lookout for founders using genuine deep learning approaches to solve large problems. A.I. will touch every aspect of our lives so if you are as passionate about A.I. as we are and are pushing the boundaries of connectionist learning then let us know.
P2P marketplaces such as Uber, AirBnB and Freelancer have fundamentally shaken entire industries to their cores by shifting the power dynamic from intermediaries to consumers. We consider that the defining feature of these marketplace businesses is that they allow an efficient and convenient transaction between peers, without requiring a traditional trusted intermediary. Two sided marketplaces also have the distinct advantage that they have built in network effects providing potential durable competitive advantages. We especially like marketplaces that leverage consumer collective bargaining as part of their approach.
We see blockchain based technologies as an exciting enabler of decentralisation and democratisation of financial services. We think that the power of the crowd will continue to be leveraged (and enhanced with A.I.) thus empowering more activity in the crowd sourcing and crowd funding spaces. We also see a continuing growth in the peer to peer economy, particularly when it is a crowd of peers on each side of the transaction (i.e. Pn2Pn).
We like the potential of prediction markets or futures markets that are applied to non-traditional industries such as digital advertising inventory. We especially like these when they are delivered in a decentralised way.
Traditionally, most financial services have acted as trusted intermediators. This makes most of the industry ripe for technological disintermediation. Over the next decade anything that can be disintermediated will be.
Simplicity / minimalism – we particularly like businesses that are aiming to take one discrete piece of the traditional financial services pie and make use of advances in technology to provide a customer experience that is a step change improvement on existing offerings.
Regulatory arbitrage – regulation is by its nature very narrowly defined which provides potential opportunities for new ventures. We like tech that changes the nature of business and therefore the role and authority of regulators (e.g. Uber). We like startups that are aiming to decentralise or automate “authority” out of existence.
Meta platforms – with $20b p.a. in VC funding for fintech, we can expect to see a continued decoupling of financial services with a swarm of more than 10,000 startups, each doing one thing really well, attacking tiny pieces of formerly protected banking turf. This period of mass fragmentation will require ‘meta platforms’ that aggregate the offerings of new providers (like has happened in the travel space).
Increasing financial inclusion and financial education – there are a number of very large developing markets that are experiencing a rapid increase in unbanked or underbanked people that have the potential to become banked by leveraging advances in technology, often by skipping technology generations. For these developing markets, and for developed markets, we are interested in technologies that are enabling better financial inclusion and education.
The insurance industry is one of the oldest and most important industries on earth but it is ripe for disruption. In many ways insurance has not kept up with consumer expectations and the changes in the way products and services are delivered.
Risk management – we like startups taking a more progressive approach to risk management by taking advantage of advances in data availability, data collection, data analysis, and artificial intelligence. Ultimately someone will completely decentralise insurance with a Pn2Pn solution, using technology to serve as the trusted intermediator.
Micro insurance – in a sharing economy world we need new approaches to insurance. We need micro insurance for small transactions and we need time based or distance based insurance for a whole new range of P2P services.
Wellness – there are huge opportunities for new approaches to health insurance where the insurer is effectively paid to keep you well. We are very interested in people working on new technologies and businesses in the ‘quantified self’ space. We see opportunities around P2P health, whereby a community cross insures each other and is thus incentivised to keep each other healthy.
As we continue to do more business across digital networks our reliance on cyber security becomes ever greater which creates opportunities for technology startups. We are interested in anyone working on cybersecurity, fraud detection and prevention, password management, encryption, data validation, reversible or deteriorating transactions, biometrics or anything else that makes us and our data safer. Sometimes the best defence is a great offence, so we are also interested in people who are working on technologies around cyber counter defence.
We would like to see technologies that improve the efficiency of regulation or make it unnecessary (e.g. technology driven decentralised regulation that works). We also think that a lot of contract law can be delivered more efficiently and with the help of smart contracts even the implementation and enforcement of contracts can be automated.
Australia is a leader in infrastructure asset management. We see massive opportunities for technologies that enable small improvements in the efficiency and productivity of infrastructure assets whether they be transport assets, power grids, water assets, ports, data centres or anything else.
Like physical assets, digital assets have value. Although this value is far smaller on each digital asset, the sheer volume and growth of digital assets makes this a very important and growing space (personal financial data, health data, photos, emails etc. are assets with value just like traditional physical assets). We are looking for any technologies focused on better management and monetisation of digital assets. The value of these seemingly valueless digital assets is increasing because of machine learning which is improving our ability to extract the value in the data contained in them. Artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it can access to be trained on.
Real-estate is a huge market with many passionate participants. The industry has seen limited meaningful disruption from technology in recent years, but we expect this to change and would like to hear from startups tackling it with ‘outside-the-box’ solutions. Whether that be better marketplaces, rent pay splitting, automated property research or AI price prediction.
Like in the gold rush, where people made good money selling picks and shovels, we like businesses building the tools to support any of the above, for example, quantum or alternative computing hardware, fog-hosting, IoT or drones, realtime data visualisation, direct physiological feedback (e.g. haptic) or enterprise software.
So if you’re working on something interesting apply to the H2 Accelerator today!