A path to market leadership.   I look for this in every investment I make.

“It’s a big industry…there will be many players…we just need a x% slice and we will be a success.”  What b.s.   That a prescription to be one of the 9 in 10 early stage companies that fail and fail soon.

A great idea is the first step, but  there are lots of smart people out there and their attention is often focused on the same problems at around the same time.  At the dawn of search, there was Infoseek, Alta Vista, Dogpile, Excite, Lycos and others.  Now google dominates.  When it comes to profitability, the winner takes it all, and the runner ups are burning cash trying to catch up.

number one“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”  So said Vince Lombardi.*

Information and intelligence can spread like wildfire. Network effects are an accelerant.  The biggest network quickly becomes the most useful and shortly the only one needed.  Market share and profitability correlate.  The premium to being #1 is increasing all the time.

Sure, there exceptions, like when the relevant market is just your local neighborhood, and there is a dry cleaner on every block.  But the most attractive markets are national and global.


What does this mean to an early stage investor?  That is a full topic for another day, but I’d rather hear “We want to be #1 and here’s how” instead of seeing an entrepreneur wave a giant red flag with “We just need our share.”


*And UCLA’s Red Sanders…read “What it takes to be Number One” if you are interested.


Web marketplaces are perhaps the best business model ever. This chart, from BVP, shows 500 current vertical marketplaces.



More info from BVP’s Jeremy Levine:

Beyond ZocDoc, four more ways to schedule your doctor online

ObamacareHyperlocal vendors are changing the way consumers navigate the healthcare industry, offering tools for finding local providers who are covered by specific insurance plans. Not only do these platforms benefit patients by providing a streamlined way to secure appointments with qualified local physicians, but they also benefit healthcare professionals by filling empty appointment slots and decreasing the percentage of no-show patients. From Stephanie Miles, an associate editor at Street Fight, here are five hyperlocal platforms that consumers can use to find and purchase local healthcare services.

1. ZocDoc: Get real-time availability information from local physicians.
Since its debut in 2007, ZocDoc has become the proverbial 800-lb. gorilla of the hyperlocal healthcare industry. Patients in more than 1,800 cities can find doctors and make appointments online, browsing by location, specialty, and insurance coverage. ZocDoc provides users with real-time physician availability information, allowing them to book appointments with an average of 24 to 72 hours notice. The company’s mobile app even uses geo-location to automatically pinpoint available doctors within close proximity to a user.

2. Patient Fusion: Book appointments with local healthcare providers.
An offshoot of Practice Fusion, an electronic health records tool used by more than 150,000 physicians, Patient Fusion launched in 2013 as a way for patients to search for healthcare providers by location or specialty. Users can read reviews from “verified” patients who have booked past appointments through Patient Fusion. Patients can see which time slots a provider has available and request appointments entirely through the booking portal.

3. Medicast: Find a doctor who makes house calls.
Medicast is a “doctors on demand” tool that people can use to find physicians who can provide care at their homes, offices, or hotel rooms. Medicast matches users up with physicians who are generally available to come by in two hours or less.  Medicast does not currently accept any domestic insurance plans. Instead, patients can opt to pay-as-they-go for $199 per visit, or set up a monthly membership for $29 to $49 per month.

4. DocASAP: Secure an appointment with a doctor today.
DocASAP users in New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey are able to schedule appointments with providers in a number of medical specialties in seconds using the company’s online portal. DocASAP is free for patients.

5. HealthLeap: Connect to a healthcare provider’s practice management system.
Acquired by Vitals, the doctor online reviews and rating platform, in 2011, HealthLeap is an appointment booking tool that people can use to find available physicians in their local areas. Appointments are made in real-time using data from physicians’ existing practice management systems. HealthLeap is also free for patients.


How the GeoWeb Will Change Consumer and Business Behavior

Reposted from Street Fight.

How the GeoWeb Will Change Consumer and Business Behavior

30 JULY 2013 BY 

The new Google Maps personalized interface.For about 2000 years, ever since Ptolemy wrote his treatise Geographia, maps and geography have helped humans understand their surroundings in the context of their neighbors, their town, their country, the Earth, and the Universe. For about 400 years, since Mercator figured out how to portray the curved Earth on a flat piece of paper, not much changed in the world of geography — until the launch of 24 GPS satellites by the U.S. Department of Defense about 30 years ago.

Digital location-based technologies are now a transformative force for consumers and businesses, particularly when coupled with the rapid adoption of mobile and the growth of big data. I’m a big believer in the future for “GeoDisruption” — the potential for consumers and businesses to interact in fundamentally new ways to take advantage of increasingly precise location-based technologies.

This is the debut of a column I’ll write for Street Fight exploring the growth of the “GeoWeb” and the emergence of GeoDisruptive trends and companies. When I’m not writing columns, I am the CEO/founder of On Grid Ventures, an investment and advisory firm focused on digital and location-based technologies.

GeoDisruption:  Where we are
Location-based technologies have already been a dislocating force in many industries.

  • Automobile marketing at the local level used to be all about newspapers and television, and companies like, and Autobytel have used geo-based lead generation to irrevocably shift in-market auto buyers and local car marketing spending to the GeoWeb.
  • GPS has made paper maps obsolete.
  • General B2C platforms like Yelp are changing the way we evaluate local services.
  • Vertical B2C platforms like OpenTable are changing the way we find and book nearby restaurants.

The major portals and aggregators are all making increasing bets on the potential for GeoWeb.  Google, with Google Maps and Places; Yahoo, with its leadership position in local news and content aggregation; IAC, with CityGrid and UrbanSpoon; and AOL with Patch.Google’s recent acquisition of Israeli startup Waze for over $1 billion is a high-water mark in the development of the GeoWeb as it affirms the importance of user-generated, location-based content.

GeoDisruption:  Where we’re headed
While the growth ambitions of Google, Yahoo, and others will continue to be fed with more acquisitions of GeoWeb companies, the application of location-based technologies is increasing more broadly in three areas: Business-to-Consumer, Business-to-Business, and Consumer-to-Consumer.

  1. B2C marketing (i.e., GeoMarketing) will continue to be transformed as innovative companies apply location-based technologies to how they acquire, transact with, and retain customers. GeoMarketing will be essential for most local retail and service businesses, and the landscape is ripe for vertical players in areas beyond automotive and restaurants, across the entire local landscape. Early stage companies like BeautyBooked are already trying to become the dominant search and booking platform in verticals like place-based salon services. ReachLocal and Yodleare growing fast as companies that help local businesses reach consumers, and national marketers are increasingly shifting dollars to locally targeted digital marketing and promotion.
  2. C2C interaction (i.e., “GeoSocial”) can also be further shaped as individuals increasingly become comfortable with sharing their location with family, friends, colleagues, and people with similar interests. Foursquare has jumped to an early lead as the platform for consumers to share their location, but Facebook, Google, and others are gaining fast.
  3. B2B companies that enable location-based innovation (i.e., “GeoInfrastructure”) continue to be a hotbed for venture investment.  Location itself is nice, but it needs to be in the context of an individual, the surrounding locations, time of day, and other factors.  This all needs to be accomplished respecting an individual’s privacy. Companies like Jumptap and Place IQ are finding new ways to provide marketers with context that makes location relevant.

While I have a background in computer science, I’ve never been a fan of pure technology. I am a believer, however, in the potential for increasingly accurate digital, location-based, real-time data to better inform the decisions we all make every day on where to go, with whom, what to buy, and other areas. The rapid proliferation of mobile devices is certainly an enabler, but the greatest innovation will come from insights into how a consumer’s behavior varies based on his or her specific location. We’re now a long way from zip-code targeting, and more GeoDisruption is on its way.

Jason E. KleinJason E. Klein is the founder/CEO of On Grid Ventures, and investment and advisory firm focused on the startup and reinvention of businesses capitalizing on digital and location-based technologies.  Follow him on twitter @JKNews.

Why Google’s Acquisition of Waze is a Game Changer

From a recent article in Forbes, here are several reasons why Google’s acquisition of Waze will be a game changer.waze

  • Waze’s community of users is key to helping Google achieve its next big goal: mapping how we move.  Waze simply collects GPS data from its 50 million users. Anyone who drives with the Waze app turned on is passively providing data that the company can use to better understand not only the world that user is driving through, but their intent.
  • Waze is one of only four major companies that built its own extensive maps of the world, the others being TomTom, Navteq and Google. “Just like search became the interface for monetization on the web, maps are going to be a big part of the monetization engine for mobile,” he said, “because that’s what you open when you’re going places.
  • Waze grows organically every day.  Wave’s Wikipedia-style structure of day-to-day contributors, who make up about 10% of users, and voluntary editors, who make up a tinier percent, allows it to chart new roads in new countries, and even include roadblocks and construction zones.
  • Waze understands the intent of its users. “Now that I know where you drive, I can begin offering you deals, I can begin enhancing the experience.”  When a Waze driver in the U.S. is stopped at a light or parked, they’ll often see a ad pop up for Taco Bell, Starbucks or AT&T.  Nearly all Waze’s ads are based on location, cross referencing where the Wazer and advertiser are in a given moment.  The Holy Grail here was cross referencing all of that GPS data with another component: the consumer’s destination, or intention. “If you’re driving to work it’s a different experience than if you’re driving to [the American department store] Macy’s,” said Bardin.


Entrepreneurs Roundtable Graduates 10 Promising New Ventures




Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator has graduated its fourth and largest class. Startups in the ERA IV program receive a $40,000 investment, access to nearly 200 mentors, free and subsidized services, and three months of office space at ERA new office in Manhattan.  ERA grads have solid success rates for follow-on funding: nine out of ten from ERA’s first class raised follow on funding, and subsequent classes are on track for about the same.  ERA’s portfolio of 40 companies is worth an estimated $150 million today.

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator Spring 2013 Graduates:

1. Acquaintable


Acquaintable is a new and clever online dating service to meet friends-of-friends, bringing the social graph to online dating.  If you indicate you like someone, and he/she does the same,  Acquaintable makes the connection. Fifteen percent of beta users returned daily.  I asked 15 friends over 40 if they would use this if they were single and in college, and they all said “you bet!”

2. Cognical


Cognical offers a service for lenders, providing an algorithm-based underwriting engine to helps lenders identify the loan applicants that will pay them back.

3. Consignd


Consignd provides a way for anyone, particular popular Pinterest users and bloggers, to set up their own eCommerce site.  Influencers with large followings can create their own storefronts and recommend other people’s products in exchange for 25 percent of any sales.

4. EasyPairings

easy pairings

EasyPairings helps restaurants hire new staff quickly, automating much of the process of finding active job seekers with the necessary qualifications.

monaeo5. Monaeo

Monaeo incorporates geolocation into tax preparation, and provides audit-worthy tracking of location to minimize taxes for mobile executives and rich folk.

6. Startist


Startist brings creative people together to collaborate on projects ranging from film and the arts to games and technology by allowing the showcasing and discovery of work.

7. Suitey


Suitey plans to disrupt the residential real estate broker business. It combines the best of online real estate services and brokers, and saves money for home buyers.

8. TheSquareFoot

TheSquareFoot enables commercial real estate prospective tenants to search for executive suites, industrial, retail and office spaces.  Launched in Houston, TheSquareFoot has 75% of the market online, and moving into Dallas next.

9. Trendalytics


Trendalytics crunches the social web and provides insights on fashion trends.  Ideal for fashion retailers, manufacturers, and fashionistas.

10. VocalizeMobile


VocalizeMobile hooks small businesses with a free service to manage their online ratings, then helps them with a suite of marketing tools to improve their web and mobile presence  across online directories like Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Mapquest and YellowPages.

era pic

OnGridVentures Top VC Deals of 2012

Here’s our list of the top Venture Capital deals of 2012 in our sectors, culled from the VentureBeat Top 15 list:

Big Data-Enabled, Next Generation Content

Drilling Info, $166 million

Drilling Info might have the least interesting name on this list, but what it offers is certainly attractive — so much that it raised $166.2 million in a major Q1 funding round. It offers a SaaS-based oil and gas business-intelligence platform, and it claims to be the “most complete source of North American and offshore waters oil and gas information.” It’s easy to see how a company offering easy access to that kind of data could get some serious cash. The round was raised by Insight Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, and Eastern Advisors Private Fund, with Vaquero Capital advising the deal.

Big Data Enabled

Box, $125 million

Cloud storage and collaboration startup Box had a huge year with lots of developments including its OneCloud syncing solution, the opening of an international headquarters in London, and more. But one of its biggest pieces of news was when it raised $125 million in fresh capital for aggressive growth around the world. This latest big round was led by General Atlantic, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ Growth, New Enterprise Associates, SAP Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and new investor Social+Capital Partnership.

E-commerce; Social Frameworks

Fab, $117 million

Social shopping startup Fab had a big year, and it recently announced that it sold $6.5 million worth of goods between Nov. 23 and Nov. 29, which is a very good number to kick off the holiday season. With that kind of traction, we’re sure its many investors — Atomico, Pinnacle Ventures, re-Net Technology Partners, Mayfield Fund, DoCoMo Capital, Menlo Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Baroda Ventures, and First Round Capital — were glad they put up more than $100 million back in July. Fab CEO Jason Goldberg also informed us that his startup raised another $16 million in October and November at the same terms as the July round, bringing the total to an impressive $117 million. Fab also recently said it plans a “pivot” in 2013, so we’ll see how that pans out.

Social Frameworks, Next Generation Content 

Pinterest, $100 milion

Pinterest, now the third most popular social network in the U.S. after Facebook and Twitter, had a hard time getting VCs’ attention when it first started out. But it didn’t appear to have much trouble raising a new $100 million round in May. The round was led by Japanese web retailer Rakuten, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Glencoe Capital, and other angel investors. As 2012 has continued, Pinterest has gained more traction. Recently, it added pin previews inside Twitter and opened its doors to business accounts.

Health Efficiency, Social Frameworks

Castlight Health, $100 million

Castlight Health, one of two health care companies to make this list, dubs itself as “the leader in health care transparency.” It offers consumers and companies comprehensive data about the price and quality of health care, ideally to help them save money while also improving their care. The company attracted astellar $99.9 million investment in May from T. Rowe Price, Redmile Group, Allen & Company, Maverick Capital, Oak Investment Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, and Venrock Associates.

Social Frameworks

Github, $100 million

GitHub, easily one of the most exciting startups of the year, caught a lot of attention in July for raising nearly $100 million for a Series A round. (It could be the biggest Series A ever.) Investors Andreessen Horowitz and SV Angel clearly believe in GitHub’s mission of supplying social coding tools to developers. The company has grown quite popular since its launch in 2008, and it has more than 1.7 million members who have shared more than 3 million code repositories. It recently hired Vlado Herman, the former CFO of Yelp, to help it manage its huge round of funds.

Vox Media Gains Traction with SB Nation

Vox Media, fueled by $30 million in VC funding, is building an engine for  next-generation content.  The ingredients are a clear vertical focus,  low cost digital-only content, highly social.  In Vox’s case, no paywall and fully ad-supported. The numbers:

  • 800 paid bloggers, who I presume are fueled by their team passion more then money.
  • 9.4 million unique visitors, half which return 20x each month, growing at 20% per year.  A fraction of what gets, but the trend is positive.
  • Direct sales force of 25 people, focused on premium CPM sales to big national brands.
  • Proprietary CMS called Chorus:  supports robust commenting and forums, and links sites with databases on teams and players.
  • Revenues of $25 million, reportedly at breakeven now.
  • Valuation of $140 million, based on most recent round.  Accel Partners is lead VC, with additional funding from Comcast Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Allen & Company, Providence Equity Partners, and Ashton Kutcher.  CEO is Jim Bankoff, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The valuation is hefty at over 5x revenue, but sports sites with passionate fans are highly valued, plus the engine can expand to other verticals.

Data sources:  Forbes and TheNext Web.

Mobile First?

It’s about time that some are questioning the mobile first gospel.  Check out this post by Fred Wilson, citing also Vibhu Norby.

The Pitfalls of Mobile

The push for mobile-first makes good sense, but the mobile landscape is fraught with difficulties, as highlighted by Semil Shah in TechCrunch.

Mobile has low barriers to entry, particularly in apps, and a proliferation of aspiring players in most every mobile category.   Reaching scale in mobile is elusive, and many startups might wind up as profitable ongoing ventures, without a huge exit, disappointing investors.

As Shah points out, citing VC Andy Weissman: investors in mobile services and apps may “wait and see” which services are scaling best.

You can read Shah’s full piece here, also crediting Albert Wenger from Union Square Ventures.