I’ve been thinking a lot about areas I’m interested in from an investment standpoint—and there are a few problems I’m fascinated by, or ones I continuously go back to. I’d love to see people working on these or talk to people with interesting ideas around them.
1) Social CRM/CMS/Plugging into my profession: Right now, I’m “tapped in” to my career in a very high maintenance way. I blog and tweet, hoping that relevant people will find my posts, and then I maintain relationships with the people that interact with my content through email and DMs. Some of those folks wind up on LinkedIn, some don’t… while others show up on my TwitterRemote page, or tag it, Digg it, RT it, and if I don’t notice it, they just fall by the wayside.
What I want to know is how I can a) capture and organize all of the inbound new professionals in my life as per their *total web presence* (like telling me when a NYC entrepreneur reads my blog or follows me on Twitter), b) make sure my content finds it’s way to relevant professionals and c) make sure that I’m reading the content of all the relevant people in my field. Also, I want to understand trends and topics of things being published and read in my networks.
To some degree, this is what should be going on at the Wall Street Journal online, LinkedIn, TheLadders or Tracked. The WSJ and these other sites should be places I go not just to consume content, but to meet people also interested in the same content—and to promote myself among that crowd. As it is, the media sites have no good access to people and LinkedIn’s attempts at getting me to read and share articles on the site have been kind of lame.
2) Line item purchases and my personal inventory. I just started using GDGT and I don’t think it’s really doing the most basic things it needs to to be successful—and that is to give me a compelling reason to want to put my items on there. Why? To show friends? To compare? It needs to build simple tools to poll my friends, my blog, my twitter followers and ask “What phone do you have?” That would be kind of fun and interesting.
But what I really want to get at is my total personal inventory. I mean, I know what it is, but when is a startup going to come along and make it really simple and compelling for me to load that data. That data is the key to what I’ll need to buy in the future, what I like, and also could instigate compelling relationships with consumer product companies.
3) Events What should I do with my time? Plancast is doing interesting things, but it’s really amazing that the web, after years and years, still does a horrific job at helping me figure out how to spend my weekend and what’s going on in the city. There’s no Google for events the way that there’s a Google for jobs, and even if there was, it’s not just about the data. Event search needs to realize that sometimes I start with knowing that I want to hangout with a particular friend, or a particular day first, or that I know what I want to do—and if should be able to figure out how to match the other pieces. It would help answer the question, “If I’m free Friday, what is there to do, who should I go with, and are they free?”
4) Local retail marketing I have an issue with the fact that getting my local pizzeria to participate in the social web or to to advertise on the web requires a salesforce of 1000 people in the trenches just making cold calls. How does a local establishment get bodies in the door—now? How do people find them? Anything that could form a relationship with local storefronts w/o needing the on the ground salesforce is interesting to me, especially if it improves their ability to drive traffic and revenues. If I owned a website, I could drive traffic to my company—how does the local pizzeria do it?
5) Breaking open the cloud. How do you get families uploading all their home video somewhere and feeling safe about it, for example? (That probably means it needs to be a physical box… to take VHS tapes and DVDs alike?) How can you get businesses moving off of enterprise software apps? How do you break through the walls of data lock-in (ie letting me pickup and walk away with my Salesforce data and moving it to Zoho, or moving from Flickr to Facebook, etc) There are predictions of cloud computing becoming huge, but it hasn’t answered some basic questions yet about continuity and portability.
This is just a starter list…. I’ll have more… If you’re thinking about this stuff, drop me a line. Also, and hopefully obviously, this list is meant to be about my particular curiousities and interests. Obviously, I’ll look at a wide variety of early stage technology deals and so will the rest of the team at First Round.