Probably the most fun part of what I do is talking to startups from all over the United States (and world). This week I had the opportunity to talk to a fin-tech startup called Copper Street. Copper Street has built a platform that takes a novel approach to educating people about finance and the stock market through gamification. Individuals using the site can create a profile and invite others to compete with them in different games designed to provide education on trading stocks and other investment related subjects. The site is like a social platform for the stock market that removes the knowledge barriers for those that may not be comfortable with the real thing. Once users gain a certain level of comfort in the simulated games, they can easily switch from freemium mode to a premium account, and trade stocks in real life with their own money. Having personally worked as an investment broker for a few years and seeing how much the average person doesn’t know about the stock market, I think a tool like Copper Street has great potential to be a great help to many people.
I also had the opportunity to talk to another startup called ItsByU. ItsByU is a startup on the East Coast that is transforming the online floral ordering business. The company has built a system for teaching customers how to self-assemble highly sophisticated flower arrangements that are sent directly to their homes. It’s kind of like Blue Apron, but for flowers. The company has built a presence in the wedding industry, with flower enthusiasts/hobbyists, and many other groups. Each flower arrangement is shipped within two days and comes with all the necessary materials for assembly (flowers, vases, string, etc.). On the company’s website there are step-by-step video tutorials that users can follow as they put the arrangements together. What I like most about this company is it is a great example of applying innovation and technology to an industry that hasn’t seen much innovation for over a decade.
Like most people in my position, I talk to new companies every day. As I mentioned already, I love it. It’s super fun. Even if the companies aren’t ones that our firm will ever invest in, I enjoy talking to them because in each conversation I learn something new about an industry or technology. One of the best parts of having these conversations is being able to share tips and advice on how companies can improve either their pitch, their go-to-market strategy, etc. And, in many cases I may know of an investor or investor group that might enjoy hearing about the opportunity as well. Who knows, one day I may have a conversation with the next “Google” or “Amazon.” Probably a very small chance of that happening, but it’s pretty cool to think about nonetheless.
For the record, neither of these companies asked me to write about them. I just thought I’d share my thoughts about them because I thought they were interesting.