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H2 Request for Startups — January 18, 2017

H2 Request for Startups

We spend a lot of time thinking about the future and we see huge potential for technology (particularly data science and artificial intelligence) to dramatically improve productivity and customer experience in many sectors. Here are some areas that we see as ripe for change. If you happen to be working on an idea in any of these areas please let us know, we’d love to help you to bring your ideas to life.

Of course, we won’t pick you for the H2 Startup Accelerator just because you are working on one of these, in fact we never back an idea alone, we back entrepreneurs. You need to be passionate about your business, you need to have energy and you need to be a doer, if you are going to make it through the rollercoaster ride that is the startup journey. If you have these characteristics and happen to be working on a great product or service in one of these areas (or any other area you think we might be interested in) then please let us know!

This request for startups will update regularly as technology continues its forward march, creating new opportunities.

Data Science

The exponential growth of data being produced every day provides huge opportunities and equally large problems. We are interested in technologies that enable a faster transfer of information or processing of transactions. We also like startups that are looking at dealing with large volumes of data more efficiently.

We like predictive analytics, marketing intelligence and customer/audience intelligence. We also like people doing clever things with spiders/robots and chatbots (e.g. risk analysis, sentiment analysis and automated research).

Computer mind interfaces – also of interest are startups using technology for faster and better human understanding of data whether that be augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, direct computer mind interfaces or human augmentation (i.e. combining the best of computers and people for better decision making).

Artificial intelligence

We love A.I. and are always on the lookout for founders using genuine deep learning approaches to solve large problems. A.I. will touch every aspect of our lives so if you are as passionate about A.I. as we are and are pushing the boundaries of connectionist learning then let us know.

Marketplaces

P2P marketplaces such as Uber, AirBnB and Freelancer have fundamentally shaken entire industries to their cores by shifting the power dynamic from intermediaries to consumers. We consider that the defining feature of these marketplace businesses is that they allow an efficient and convenient transaction between peers, without requiring a traditional trusted intermediary. Two sided marketplaces also have the distinct advantage that they have built in network effects providing potential durable competitive advantages. We especially like marketplaces that leverage consumer collective bargaining as part of their approach.

Blockchain & decentralisation

We see blockchain based technologies as an exciting enabler of decentralisation and democratisation of financial services. We think that the power of the crowd will continue to be leveraged (and enhanced with A.I.) thus empowering more activity in the crowd sourcing and crowd funding spaces. We also see a continuing growth in the peer to peer economy, particularly when it is a crowd of peers on each side of the transaction (i.e. Pn2Pn).

Virtual markets

We like the potential of prediction markets or futures markets that are applied to non-traditional industries such as digital advertising inventory. We especially like these when they are delivered in a decentralised way.

Re-imagining traditional financial services

Traditionally, most financial services have acted as trusted intermediators. This makes most of the industry ripe for technological disintermediation. Over the next decade anything that can be disintermediated will be.

Simplicity / minimalism – we particularly like businesses that are aiming to take one discrete piece of the traditional financial services pie and make use of advances in technology to provide a customer experience that is a step change improvement on existing offerings.

Regulatory arbitrage – regulation is by its nature very narrowly defined which provides potential opportunities for new ventures. We like tech that changes the nature of business and therefore the role and authority of regulators (e.g. Uber). We like startups that are aiming to decentralise or automate “authority” out of existence.

Meta platforms – with $20b p.a. in VC funding for fintech, we can expect to see a continued decoupling of financial services with a swarm of more than 10,000 startups, each doing one thing really well, attacking tiny pieces of formerly protected banking turf. This period of mass fragmentation will require ‘meta platforms’ that aggregate the offerings of new providers (like has happened in the travel space).

Increasing financial inclusion and financial education – there are a number of very large developing markets that are experiencing a rapid increase in unbanked or underbanked people that have the potential to become banked by leveraging advances in technology, often by skipping technology generations. For these developing markets, and for developed markets, we are interested in technologies that are enabling better financial inclusion and education.

Insurance

The insurance industry is one of the oldest and most important industries on earth but it is ripe for disruption. In many ways insurance has not kept up with consumer expectations and the changes in the way products and services are delivered.

Risk management – we like startups taking a more progressive approach to risk management by taking advantage of advances in data availability, data collection, data analysis, and artificial intelligence. Ultimately someone will completely decentralise insurance with a Pn2Pn solution, using technology to serve as the trusted intermediator.

Micro insurance – in a sharing economy world we need new approaches to insurance. We need micro insurance for small transactions and we need time based or distance based insurance for a whole new range of P2P services.

Wellness – there are huge opportunities for new approaches to health insurance where the insurer is effectively paid to keep you well. We are very interested in people working on new technologies and businesses in the ‘quantified self’ space. We see opportunities around P2P health, whereby a community cross insures each other and is thus incentivised to keep each other healthy.

Cyber defence

As we continue to do more business across digital networks our reliance on cyber security becomes ever greater which creates opportunities for technology startups. We are interested in anyone working on cybersecurity, fraud detection and prevention, password management, encryption, data validation, reversible or deteriorating transactions, biometrics or anything else that makes us and our data safer. Sometimes the best defence is a great offence, so we are also interested in people who are working on technologies around cyber counter defence.

Regulatory and legal technology

We would like to see technologies that improve the efficiency of regulation or make it unnecessary (e.g. technology driven decentralised regulation that works). We also think that a lot of contract law can be delivered more efficiently and with the help of smart contracts even the implementation and enforcement of contracts can be automated.

Physical infrastructure management technology

Australia is a leader in infrastructure asset management. We see massive opportunities for technologies that enable small improvements in the efficiency and productivity of infrastructure assets whether they be transport assets, power grids, water assets, ports, data centres or anything else.

Digital asset management technology

Like physical assets, digital assets have value. Although this value is far smaller on each digital asset, the sheer volume and growth of digital assets makes this a very important and growing space (personal financial data, health data, photos, emails etc. are assets with value just like traditional physical assets). We are looking for any technologies focused on better management and monetisation of digital assets. The value of these seemingly valueless digital assets is increasing because of machine learning which is improving our ability to extract the value in the data contained in them. Artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it can access to be trained on.

Real estate

Real-estate is a huge market with many passionate participants. The industry has seen limited meaningful disruption from technology in recent years, but we expect this to change and would like to hear from startups tackling it with ‘outside-the-box’ solutions. Whether that be better marketplaces, rent pay splitting, automated property research or AI price prediction.

Tools

Like in the gold rush, where people made good money selling picks and shovels, we like businesses building the tools to support any of the above, for example, quantum or alternative computing hardware, fog-hosting, IoT or drones, realtime data visualisation, direct physiological feedback (e.g. haptic) or enterprise software.

So if you’re working on something interesting apply to the H2 Accelerator today!

Start something meaningful in 2017 — January 15, 2017

Start something meaningful in 2017

Do you have a dream, a secret passion, something you have been working on in your spare time? Have you always wanted to create something of your own? Is this the year you are going to take the plunge, leave behind your safe career path and start something that is truly meaningful to you?

The H2 Ventures Startup Accelerator Summer 2017 intake kicks off in February and while we have made our selections for this intake we know that the new year can be a big impetus for many people so we will consider selecting 1-2 more teams that are working on something that could change the world. If this is you, then we’d love to help you bring your vision to life.

Find out more and apply asap at www.h2.vc/accelerator

Do you need to find a co-founder? Do you want to learn about how to start a startup? Do you want to be in the running for $4,000 in cash prizes? — September 2, 2016

Do you need to find a co-founder? Do you want to learn about how to start a startup? Do you want to be in the running for $4,000 in cash prizes?

I often meet people who say they are interested in startups but don’t know where to start or how to find a co-founder. This is the best way I know.

One of the best investments that we have made at H2 Ventures is a company called Simply Wall St (www.simplywall.st). What many people don’t know is that the founders of Simply Wall St first met at a Startup Weekend.

Next weekend (9-11 Sept) we will be holding a Startup Weekend in Sydney to help more people learn what this startup thing is all about. This is open to anyone who is curious about startups, you don’t need to bring a team with you as we will help you form teams on the Friday night.

Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

The weekend will be 54-hours of high intensity fun and learning-by-doing!

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to work in a startup then this is your opportunity to see what it’s really like. You will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure of creating a startup whilst being supported by the best mentors in the industry.

The weekend will begin with Friday night pitches and continue through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation before culminating with Sunday night demos and presentations with prizes for the winners. All food (breakfasts, lunches and dinners) and drinks will be supplied across the weekend.

At the end of the weekend the winning team will take home a cash prize of $2,500, followed by $1,000 for second and $500 for third, alongside AWS cloud hosting credits and an opportunity to pitch to join the next round of the H2 Ventures Fintech Accelerator, which will kick off in February 2017. There will also be amazing prizes for the most outstanding male and female individuals over the weekend.

While this is officially a fintech Startup Weekend I would encourage anyone interested in starting a startup to come along as the learnings will be the same across industries. I would also strongly encourage any women who are interested in startups to come along as this is a welcoming environment in which to learn more about the startup ecosystem in Sydney and we have some great female mentors and judges involved across the weekend.

This event could not happen without the generous support of Westpac, AMP New Ventures, S&P Global Market Intelligence, Amazon Web Services and Stone & Chalk.

We have a handful of spaces left so sign up now if you are interested. This is a community run event to support the startup ecosystem, the ticket price covers all meals, drinks, t-shirts and other event costs.

Tickets are available at startupweekendsydney.eventbrite.com

Fintech 100 — December 15, 2015

Fintech 100

Ben and I (H2) in collaboration with KPMG have released the Fintech 100 report for 2015. It covers the top fintech startups from around the world. You can view the report online here or download the PDF version.

100 fintech start-ups in 3 years — May 26, 2015

100 fintech start-ups in 3 years

My brother Ben and I announced today that we have established the H2 Accelerator, a dedicated fintech accelerator that will invest in 100 early stage ventures over the next three years. Any one of these investments has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the financial services sector.

Application for the H2 Accelerator program opened today, and will close on 30 June 2015. For more information or to apply please visit H2 Ventures

Having previously established one of the world’s first and Australia’s only fintech accelerator, we know that an accelerator is the best way to help fintech entrepreneurs turn their ideas into viable startups that can attract serious funding.

H2 Ventures will be located in the Stone and Chalk co-working space.

So if you’re a fintech entrepreneur go to h2.vc for further details.

The future of photography and TV — January 18, 2012

The future of photography and TV

If you have stumbled upon my blog you will have noticed that I don’t post often (about once a year) but when I do it’s usually because I foresee a convergence of technologies that will profoundly change the way we do things. This post is no exception.

In recent months I have been playing around with two new photographic technologies that will each cause step changes in the way we take, view and share photographs and videos. The convergence of these two technologies could completely revolutionize the way we experience TV and communicate.

The first technology is called light field photography. It has been around for a while in medical imaging applications but a new start-up called Lytro is going to propel it into the mainstream with the introduction of consumer light field cameras. I have ordered one and it should arrive in the next few months. I will be sure to post some examples of living photos when it arrives.

Lytro living picture camera

The amazing thing about light field cameras is that their photos are focused by the viewer after the photo has been captured. As you view, you choose what interests you and focus on that part of the photo by touching it. This makes viewing photos a personalised interactive experience and with no need to focus, light field cameras can take very fast photos, so you won’t miss that memorable moment (as so often happens with consumer cameras). To top things off, any light field image can be converted to 3D after it has been taken.

One of the most expensive parts of a camera is the mechanics and computer processing required for auto-focus. Light field cameras do away with this completely, making them less expensive to produce. The first batch of Lytro cameras are selling for $400-$500. Like most things, the price point will lower as the economies of scale in this start-up get going.

Because the photos are focused post-capture, light field cameras can have large aperture lenses which result in nice narrow depth of field photos without any fear of missing the critical focus point. The large aperture lenses mean fast photos, so no more camera shake or low light issues.

The second technology is being popularised by Kōgeto with their Dot attachment for the iPhone. This device, combined with the Dot app, allows you to record 360 degree video with your iPhone. Then you can pan left or right while the video is playing back to see anything that happened in the full 360 degree space around the camera. Again, this makes watching video an engrossing interactive experience and it is at a consumer friendly price point of $79 for the attachment (the app is free).

Kogeto Dot 360 degree video

Both of these technologies are amazing on their own, but what gets me excited is the possibility of bringing them together, along with other existing technologies, to create new immersive entertainment and communication experiences. Let me paint two pictures of what could be possible in the near future.

Imagine a television controlled by an Xbox-Kinect-like sensor that recognizes you and responds to your gestures. You stand in front of your TV watching your favourite football team in 3D. The cameras around and suspended above the field are all 360 degree light field cameras. Each player also has a 360 degree light field camera built into the top of his helmet. As you watch the game you can control which camera your want to view using sideways arm gestures. You can also pan the camera you are currently viewing by turning your head from side to side, and you can alter the focus by pointing. Watching a game like this would make you feel like you were a part of the action, and it would be quite a workout! Finally, you could allow other people to subscribe to your ‘directors cut’ so that they could view the action through ‘your eyes’. A ratings system of all lounge room directors could rank you so that people who just want to watch the game can choose to follow the most talented directors or perhaps a director who likes to view the game in a way that resonates particularly well with them.

Imagine another scenario, in which you are travelling for work and your spouse and 18 month old daughter are at home. You call them on Skype/FaceTime and up pops a 3D image of your spouse. You can hear your daughter in the background. Rather than requiring your spouse to move the camera you simply turn your head to the left and the image you are viewing pans left until you see your daughter playing. You point at her and the focus sharpens on her face.

These scenarios give a glimpse of the possibilities of these two technologies in the very near future. I look forward to this becoming a reality. What do you think?

Two Ideas for iPhone & iPad — June 4, 2010

Two Ideas for iPhone & iPad

Here are two idea’s I have been thinking about for a while. They would be great additions for any phone or tablet.

Idea 1 – Dual technology display

e-Ink close-up
e-Ink close-up
Anyone who has used a Kindle (or similar e-ink based device) will understand the importance of the passive display principle. Passive displays do not use any power unless you are changing the page and they do not strain the eyes because they do not have a back light like most other display technologies (of course you can adjust the back light, but who does that regularly). Electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and does not have any electronic back light flicker (reflective LCD is another interesting technology that makes use of reflected light). The major disadvantage of e-ink is that it has a slow refresh rate so it does not provide a good user experience for interactive applications (using menus or scrolling) or playing video. I would like to see someone to make a dual technology display that has a transparent LCD overlay on an e-ink display. This would give the screen the low-power passive capabilities of e-ink with the high refresh rate capabilities of LCD.

Idea 2 – Personal interrotron display

Have you ever thought about why communicating over webcam doesn’t feel the same as speaking in person? A big part of the problem is that you are generally looking at the forehead of the personal you are chatting with and they are looking at your forehead. The reason for this is that you are both looking at video’s of each other on screen while your camera’s sit above your screens. Eye contact is critical for effective communication. Television networks understand this, which is why news readers use a teleprompter that projects the news script right in front of the camera lens so that the news reader can read the script and be looking right into the viewers eyes. The interrotron is like a teleprompter but was designed so that the person in front of the camera can see into the eyes of the person they are interviewing.

iPhone Interrotron
iPhone Interrotron

Apple should make an iPhone/iPad screen that has a camera behind the display so that users can remotely communicate with each other with eye contact for the first time. One screen pixel would need to be transparent about 2/3 of the way up the screen with a tiny camera placed behind it. Software would recognize the other persons eyes in the video image of them and would reposition the video image so that their eyes were centered on the camera behind the screen. That way, when you look at their eyes you would also be looking at the camera and they too would be able to look at your eyes. Of course this system would only work if both users were using devices with the interrotron technology so it would encourage viral take up of interrotron enabled devices.

I hope you like my ideas. Let me know what you think. I think the second idea in particular would revolutionize personal communications.

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