Investing in the Everyday Economy
Our central investment theme here at NextView is the “Everyday Economy.” In short, we seek the digital redesign of broad categories of everyday living, made possible by groundbreaking digital technologies like artificial intelligence.
We are specifically focused on investing in businesses that improve and modernize the ways in which large populations spend a majority of their time, money, and attention — both at home and at work. Put simply, we’re focusing on real problems faced by all consumers and businesses across industries and classes, not luxury, siloed Silicon Valley issues.
Super Technologies Reshaping People’s Lives
When we first announced our Everyday Economy thematic investment focus back in 2017, we wrote in some detail about internet-connected computing… its origins, historical parallels to other civilization-shaping technology waves, and how the second-order effects are just now playing out 30+ years after the internet’s emergence. You can read that piece here. The short version is that “super technologies” like railroads, electricity, automobiles, and internet connectivity don’t necessarily follow the patterns of “normal” technology innovation waves.
These super technologies have an outsized impact on society broadly, and these impacts play out over many decades. For example, electricity was originally conceived as a way to provide lighting to replace candles and oil-burning lamps. But many decades after Edison invented the lightbulb, electricity was reshaping everything from industrial production to transportation to even architecture (high-rise buildings were made possible by the electric elevator).
It’s also important to anchor our explanation of the Everyday Economy in our more literal present. Our investment portfolio is evenly distributed between both consumer-facing and business-to-business (B2B) startups. This balance stems from our understanding that people lead multifaceted lives, navigating a myriad of roles, challenges, and inefficiencies in both their personal and professional spheres. We aim to support solutions that address these complexities in all aspects of their daily lives.
On the consumer side, the Everyday Economy shows up in the products and services we use to manage our families (elderly care), health (weight loss, alcohol treatment to speech therapy), homes (co-living, home equity), money (student loans, parental finances), appearance (size-accessible clothing, skin care), and minds (reading, watching, learning).
On the B2B side, the Everyday Economy appears in the application and enabling technology layers that facilitate business across industries – empowering more efficient and effective software development, data insights, marketing & selling, financing, and transportation.
Enter Artificial Intelligence
And now the next big wave of the internet is dawning: artificial intelligence. Of course AI is not a new concept, but it has reached a point where its impact on people’s everyday lives will soon be transformative. Much like the waves of ‘super technologies’ before it, AI is poised to alter our world in profound ways, as the internet did over 30 years ago.
At NextView, our emphasis lies not in the foundational models and complex algorithms that power artificial intelligence, but rather, in the tangible applications of AI that can revolutionize the everyday personal and professional lives of people. We understand that the real power of AI doesn’t stem solely from its computational prowess, but from how it can be harnessed to modify ordinary experiences, simplify complex tasks, and empower individuals and businesses to perform better and more efficiently. Our Everyday Economy investment lens is, therefore, focused on startups that bring AI out of the realm of abstract theory and into the practical world – startups that can seamlessly integrate AI into people’s daily activities.
The wide-ranging potential of artificial intelligence applications in the Everyday Economy is already present across our portfolio. On the B2B side, we’re proud to be investors in companies like Poly, for instance, which is transforming the world of gaming by providing cutting-edge tools for graphic designers; while Wendi is revolutionizing healthcare by leveraging AI capabilities to automate patient intake. Bito is enhancing the productivity of engineers with its AI-powered software development tools, and Patented is offering a much-needed service for identifying patent infringement. Sourcetable, meanwhile, has developed a next-generation spreadsheet with AI superpowers, and Opus is making deskless learning simple by offering one comprehensive platform for engaging and training frontline workers. Finally, MelodyArc is simplifying and enhancing customer agent support with these technologies, and Sandbar is leveraging AI to simplify AML detection.
In consumer-focused applications, the presence of AI is quite apparent. Carefull utilizes an AI foundation to safeguard customers’ money, credit, and identity from threats, theft, and everyday money mistakes. We’ve also recently invested in a number of stealth-AI startups reimaging communications, travel, health and more for consumers. Each of these companies is harnessing the power of AI in a unique way to meet a genuine and pervasive need of everyday people. They exemplify our commitment to investing in practical, beneficial applications of AI that touch all aspects of people’s lives.
The Everyday Economy Comes From Who We Are and Informs How We Operate
As a partnership, we are all former operators, and the companies we’ve worked for and founded also give texture to the Everyday Economy in practice. Prior to joining NextView, Melody was the first product hire at Blue Apron, one of the first companies to redefine what affordable, healthy, and efficient cooking now looks like. Prior to co-founding NextView, Lee was an early employee at PayPal, a company that now defines modern commerce, and co-founded Linkedin, a lynchpin to our daily professional lives. Rob worked in product at eBay, one of the first companies to shape how we buy and sell goods online. David co-founded and sold one of the first email marketing companies, which powered many companies’ early ecommerce relationships with consumers. And Stephanie’s background prior to joining NextView includes experiences in education and ecommerce with applications that reached millions and millions of people.
As for how we evaluate whether a potential investment falls within the everyday economy, there are a few common lenses we think through and questions we ask:
First, are the founders looking to redesign or just improve a current solution? Improvement is linear and incremental. Redesigns look more like step-function shifts, requiring founders to approach problems very differently. Sometimes it isn’t obvious from the start that the company will lead to a redesign, but it’s very much part of the company’s Golazo.
Second, as we’ve shared above, we’re excited about companies that are redesigning the everyday. We think of this as products that are highly habitual, or that consumers interact with frequently. Our portfolio company WHOOP, a personal fitness tracking device and subscription that was recently valued at over $1.2 billion, is used every single day by millions of consumers to better understand their health. Slack and Zoom are used every single day by their business customers. And companies like Peloton enable purchases that may not happen very often, but are products that you will interact with every single day in your home.
Third, we look for companies that we think are relevant to everyday people. This means something a little different depending on whether you are talking about consumer businesses or B2B products, but our belief is that the biggest and most impactful companies will need to be ones that redesign the lives of mass consumers or large populations of business users. It’s not surprising that the biggest ecommerce companies of the last few years — Wayfair, Chewy, Dollar Shave Club, and Jet — were all mass market focused businesses, not ones targeting niche or luxury consumers.
Now, as we stand at the precipice of a new era in technology, we are incorporating the transformative power of artificial intelligence into our Everyday Economy investment lens. We believe that AI, much like the “super technologies” of the past, has the potential to redesign broad areas of our everyday lives in significant ways. It is more than just a technology – it is a catalyst for change and a potential force for good, capable of empowering individuals and businesses alike to overcome challenges, boost productivity, and achieve their goals in more efficient and innovative ways. As the practical applications of AI continue to unfold, we remain committed to investing in startups that harness this technology to drive meaningful change and offer tangible solutions for everyday people. Our investment thesis is firmly rooted in the belief that the transformative potential of AI lies not merely in its advanced algorithmic computational power, but in its application as a tool to improve, simplify, and enhance the everyday lives of people across the globe.
We continue to strive to help founders by being high-conviction, hands-on investors who drive to decisions, lead rounds, and actively engage with our portfolio companies. And we invest across the spectrum of seed / pre-seed / post-seed rounds, for companies before they have meaningful traction, regardless of whether they are raising a few hundred thousand or several million dollars. Early-stage investing is still the only thing we do.
If you’re an entrepreneur on this sort of mission, please get in touch. We look forward to helping you build the future you want to live in.