Thilmin Gee ’14 and myself recently had the pleasure of volunteering at and attending the Bloomberg Next Big Thing summit. The conference took place at the Alexandria Center on the east side of Manhattan. The conference brought together thought leaders in venture capital and a number of NYC industries impacted by tech including education, robotics, media, sports, finance, etc. It was an enlightening day where our own InSITE Chairman Paul Tumpowsky was on a panel to evaluate 5 start-ups pitching their business to the audience mid-way through the day. For me, the highlight of the conference was the venture capital panel. The panel was John Frankel of ff Venture Capital, Jeremy Levine of Bessemer Venture Partners, and Ben Lerer of Lerer Venture Partners. Each VC went into their background and then talked about what they see as exciting growth areas going forward. Ben Lerer, given his success with Thrillist Media Group and JackThreads, focused on the potential for fusion between media and commerce online, particularly in the mobile space as a sector he continues to see possibility in. Then, Jeremy and John both focused on something less sexy, but potentially huge in potential, cloud based enterprise software solutions for small and medium sized businesses. Despite what one might think, the majority of small businesses are running antiquated business software and have mass inefficiencies that could be eradicated through the implementation of a cloud-based software solution that imagines all the needs of the business and satisfies them in an easy to use mobile application. Bessemer funded a company called MindBody that makes this sort of software for salons, gyms, yoga studios, etc and ff Venture Capital funded one called Estify that makes the ideal software for auto body shops. This was an exciting insight gained and I look forward to attempting to identify other small business industries that are lacking in this area and where an opportunity may exist.
This post was written by Shehzad Khan, Columbia MBA 2014