Feb 12, 2021

Five Startup Ideas #021

Community tools, a Notion remix, and global cash management.

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Last week's collaboration with Out of Pocket was well-received with a good number of builders and investors reaching out. Great to see interest in such a vital space.

Shohini Gupta's concept for "therapy-led primary care" turned out to be a particular favorite, edging out Julie Yoo's "real-time API for doctor capacity." If you're especially intrigued by the healthcare sector, good news: we have another dedicated episode arriving before the end of this season.  

This week seemed to bring an abundance of intriguing products into view. These were the three I've found myself thinking about most:

  1. Tillit, "buy now, pay later" for business. During our coverage of Affirm's IPO, our team wondered whether the company would ever make a move to serve enterprise. We discovered that CEO Levchin's incubator, Hard Valuable Fun, had spun up Resolve to serve that need. Now they have competition in Tillit, a European startup newly backed by Sequoia.  
  2. Pitch a Date (PaD), a platform to incentivize matchmaking. Created by Lucy Guo, the founder of Scale AI, PaD lets romantics "pitch" where they would take one of the highlighted people for a date. Meanwhile, "matchmakers" can suggest a friend to one of the eligible singles. If your proposed match is chosen, you win money. Lucy is offering $1 million to whoever sets her up with a future spouse. Intriguing timing, given the Bumble IPO, yesterday.
  3. Pngme, a financial data API for Sub-Saharan Africa. The company looks to provide infrastructure for more financial products to be built on the continent. In researching my piece on Plaid, I realized there were few companies serving this need in the African market; it's great to see another come to the fore and attract funding.

Members of The Generalist received an extra, exclusive idea in this week's piece, from yours truly. It includes a few potentially interesting domain names alongside my rationale. If you'd like to unlock it, you can join here. You'll also unlock additional weekly briefings (often touching on sectors I think are ripe for opportunity), and access to the community, via application. Already, we have established CEOs, EIRs, VC partners, and new founders involved.

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Five ideas

Community admin tools

Better tools for community admins and managers

Despite the increasing relevance of online communities (for education, collaboration, and connection), tools to enhance the community experience and make community leaders' jobs easier are still basic and lacking.

A wishlist of what's needed: member database, payments, community shared folders, application tools, wiki for onboarding, analytics around member activity, member tiers, calendar integration for organizing and joining events, digests of popular posts/discussions, and much more.

Li Jin, Founder at Atelier

Notion x Roam x Slack x Chrome X

New UIs that recognizes the importance of context and people

Today’s browsers are performing the same task they did in the 90s: displaying web pages. However, information has become commoditized and what matters is its relational value. No tool is helping me think, grow and build upon what I learned, and connect me with the right people in my network. Knowledge bases and basic search tools don't cut it.

Your browser knows everything about you but you lose half of what you’ve searched for and still end up with an overwhelming number of tabs open every day. These days, we get so much of our content in bite-sized, isolated bits: links in an email, tweets, Slack messages, blog posts. We consume information because it’s in front of us, rather than because it’s relevant to us. I am looking for the next level Notion or Roam, integrated into existing browsers as a command-line interface with multiplayer functionality that helps us stay organized and focused. I'd love to be able to view a changelog of historical decisions and people with the right expertise, too.

Sarah Noeckel, Investor at Northzone & Founder of Femstreet

Better manage your corporate cash

Global cash manager for enterprise CFOs

Companies are global cash managers. CFOs need to report, manage, and delegate the flow of their dollars around the world across global banking infrastructure. There is a need for a workflow to manage that process as well as a product for scaling the movement of capital in a compliant, effective way.

Ross Fubini, Managing Partner @ XYZ.VC

Audit logs as a service

App-agnostic API to auto-generate and aggregate audit logs

Audit logs: IT admins need them, B2B companies have to build them, and security engineers have to glean insights from them. What if there was an API to handle all of that?

Whether it’s data exfiltration from a rogue employee, litigation, or an HR investigation when you need to pull logs, it’s usually time-sensitive and high priority. Log producers (B2B companies) know this, and end up building audit trails for as many of their features as they can, splitting resources between building new features and making sure old ones are audited. The catch-up game introduces Achilles’ Heels into the software stacks of customers because auditing is only as valuable as it is complete.

On the log consumer side, the number of variations in log structure, format, and sequencing increases with the number of apps in an organization, making the job of an internal SecOps team difficult. With an API that auto-generates logs for features, developers could guarantee a greater degree of enterprise readiness to customers. Their customers' internal SecOps teams would be able to aggregate logs from different SaaS apps to track employee behavior, for example. B2B companies would be able to invest in new feature development by shifting resources away from log maintenance and creation.

The dominance of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools like Panther and Splunk make it clear that customized front-end experiences on a per-app basis aren't drivers of value. Unifying all auditing into a single, predictable API that SaaS apps can leverage would make it that much easier for the SecOps teams that spend their day in SIEM tools, and consequently enable feature development teams to spend more time on net new functionality.

Rak Garg, Investor at OpenView

Breast milk as a service

A consumer subscription model for donated breast milk

Over one million infants around the world are dying each year due to causes such as sepsis, asthma, malaria, and hypothermia. This can be directly linked back to lower breastfeeding rates especially in marginalized and underserved economies. Primarily due to physical and emotional trauma, and the lack of obstetric and neonatal care, mothers are unable to produce breast milk to nurse their child and in the cases where they do, it's often inadequate.

Is there a world in which one mother's breast milk be administered to another mother's child? Research has proven that this can happen successfully. Interestingly enough, we're seeing these user behaviors reflected in places like mommy groups on Facebook, between friends, and other offline communities.

MilkyWay (yes, I named it) would solve this problem. I imagine a consumer subscription marketplace where breast milk is sourced through a careful three-step vetting process (an intake form, an interview, and a blood test conducted by your doctor after which the results are shared with the company), pasteurized through a flash heating process (after which milk can theoretically stay good for up to 3 months without needed refrigeration), and then distributed to mothers in underserved and marginalized communities.

MilkyWay would be responsible for sourcing the donors, pasteurizing the breastmilk, and setting up channel partnerships for distribution. In order to stay away from the handout model, MilkyWay could grow similarly to Uber — the product would be sourced and distributed locally.

Pranavi Cheemakurti, Investor at Acceleprise and Writer at Public Beta


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This week's puzzle refers to a famous media CEO. I think it's a bit of a tricky one, so it may require a little extra lateral thinking. As always, clues available to those that would like them. Just respond to this email.

Last week's Coda was no match for this startup literate audience.

Adam B sprinted across the line first, followed by Jil K, Scott M, Jefferson D, Alec W, Grant G, CMC, Krishna N, Michael F, Samir S, Saumo P, Benny R, Ron F, BTM, Noor F, Shabbir H, Carmen C, Siddhant G, Sameer N, Alen M, Adam F, Patrick T, RJG, Shawn W, JJFP, Nate S, and Jim W.

The answer? Move fast and break things. And as Samir S excellently added: "Except in healthcare and other heavily regulated industries, where you have to be a little more considerate." Well said.

The Generalist’s work is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should always do your own research and consult advisors on these subjects. Our work may feature entities in which Generalist Capital, LLC or the author has invested.