Mar 19, 2021

Five Startup Ideas #026

LinkedIn for dentists, Mint for security, and reinventing EDI.

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Josh Constine swept to the podium. His "Job interview tutoring" RFS proved to be the most popular of last week's edition, edging out Vinay Iyengar's "Climate OS." It sounds like there are a number of talented folks building startups in the space. Great to see.

The three startups I found most intriguing this week...

Members of The Generalist receive two additional ideas in this week's edition, one from a leading VC Partner, the second from one of my favorite entrepreneurs. To unlock them, join the club as a member, here. You'll also get access to our community application. We hosted our first event this week, giving founders, operators, investors, and writers a chance to meet and get to know each other. It was a ton of fun so I'm sure we'll do many more. The current plan is to host +2 a month.

This edition is supported by Future...

I am off to the races. As I mentioned in Sunday's newsletter, I'm undertaking a new challenge with my Future coach: run 5K in 30 minutes or less. Since I'm not the fastest person, this is going to be tricky. This week, I'll be running a total of 7.79 miles, ramping up over time. I got some good sessions in Monday and Wednesday and am gearing up for a nice 3-miler tomorrow. Looks like it might even be warm enough to run outside! ☀️ Can't wait.

If you're interested in bringing a little more movement into your life, just respond to this email. Thanks the team at Future, RFS readers get access to 45 days of personalized training for free. I've been working with my trainer, Eddie, for a year and a half and can confidently say it's made a meaningful difference to my health and fitness.

Startup ideas...

Next-generation financial tools for the enterprise

Increasing visibility, automation, and collaboration for finance teams

Today, finance teams spend most of their time collecting, cleaning, and analyzing disparate data to piece together a holistic view of a company’s financial situation. They spend a lot of time tracking down leaders in the organization for model inputs to plan for the future, and historical data to understand what has already happened. With the shift to strategic CFOs responsible for company strategy and an increase in remote work, software that automates workflows and increases collaboration across an organization will be key. 

There’s room for a number of companies to flourish by allowing finance teams to become more proactive, something they have been unable to do historically. Some areas of opportunity include, but are not limited to: 

  1. FP&A
  2. Compliance and risk management
  3. Integrated tools for spend management
  4. Headcount planning
  5. Payments
  6. Plaid for payroll
  7. Banking infrastructure as a service

We’re seeing amazing companies emerge to tackle some of these areas; I hope we see many more. 

Medha Agarwal, Principal at Redpoint Ventures

LinkedIn for dentistry

Dental office staff marketplace

It's difficult for dental offices to find trained staff — hygienists, office managers, receptionists, and specialists. That’s because there’s no centralized place to search for and evaluate specialized healthcare workers. This is a problem I’ve talked about with my father and brother who are both dentists, along with others in the field. All struggle to find skilled workers. These professionals don't typically live on LinkedIn and instead find work through dental schools or word of mouth.

I think there’s an opportunity to build the LinkedIn for dentistry, and other segments of specialized healthcare. Something similar to Incredible Health, but focused on positions outside of nursing, and targeted towards smaller practices rather than large hospitals and healthcare systems.

Kunal Mehta, Principal at Hearst Ventures

B2B commerce network

Bring B2B commerce away from manual and EDI and into the modern era

While the rise of DTC commerce captures headlines, B2B commerce volume is orders of magnitude larger. It remains antiquated: $2 trillion transactions are handled via EDI (a standard from the 1970s), and another $3.5 trillion are handled manually. By comparison, over $100 billion GMV flows through Shopify’s DTC merchants. With the coronavirus accelerating e-commerce penetration from 14% to over 30% of retail within a matter of months, expectations have changed. Now, even B2B buyers expect convenience in their transactions.

The rise of verticalized B2B marketplaces alludes to the need for streamlined discovery and procurement, as well as illustrating a shift in buyer expectations. Those vertical marketplaces certainly help matters, but I think there’s a sizable opportunity to build horizontal infrastructure that abstracts away complex ERP or EDI integrations for B2B commerce.

An insurgent could take a number of different forms: a trade network, a challenger to EDI, or a more B2B-oriented Shopify. The opportunity is there!

Mike Duboe, General Partner at Greylock

TikTok for screenshot essays

Powerful distribution for miniature articles

Writing an excellent short essay is an order of magnitude easier than writing a good, long essay. That’s contributed to the rise of the “screenshot essay” — concise articles encapsulated in a single image. That’s a novel format but, as it stands, there’s no native distribution channel, meaning writers of these pieces typically share on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social networks. 

I think there’s an opportunity to build a platform around this new type of content, designed to help these writers find a valuable readership. TikTok's "for you page" design provides a worthy starting point to draw inspiration from. Over time, such a network might create a wider audience than Twitter, nudging users to create more accessible content that is legible by anyone. That, in turn, would make algorithmic curation easier.

Nathan Baschez, President of Every

Mint for security

Visibility into all your online account information

Everyone now has a million online accounts, accessed with different passwords, devices, and levels of security. Password managers let you track individual logins well, but they don't give you the best view of your overall online presence.

An ideal product here would allow me to view all of my accounts and the dependencies between them. Where am I using my Google account vs. registering for an account via email? The system would determine which accounts I've enabled, what type of multifactor authentication (SMS, authenticator app) I’ve used, and which websites I’ve given my phone number or mailing address to. It would be something like Mint for Security.  

Since security is often about the weakest link, having visibility seems like the next step beyond password management. I'm not sure mass consumers are ready to pay for this just yet, but we're headed in that direction.

Nandu Anilal, Investor at Canaan Partners


As always, clues are available to those that would like them. Just respond to this email.

Is this the third Lord of the Rings movie? Because last week's Coda saw the Return of the King. Sid J was back at it again with a typing speed that would make Mavis Beacon blush. Lars R was just a split-second behind, joined in Fellowship with Krishna N, Jason S, Jake K, Ejike U, Ron F, Brianna H, Nandu A, Ishani P, Ejay A, Abe C, Aaron B, Ashton W, Ajay J, Jim W, Bobby A, Nicole L, Deeter C, Casey K, Clint M, Michael F, Prasanna D, Nick D, Aisling S, Neal K, Sukumar R, Zaahir M, Amna H, Robert H, Maximilian R.

The answer? David Baszucki, CEO of Roblox.

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.