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Expensive readers,

Lots of you’ll have learn the current New York Occasions article “Uber and Airbnb Alumni Fuel Tech’s Next Wave” which is about how alumni of profitable startups usually break up off and begin new firms, and how ecosystems of buyers/advisors kind round these new firms to help them. Within the NYT article, I point out {that a}16z has invested in 2 ex-Uber groups, and in the present day, I’m excited to announce the first one — Pietra — a brand new startup constructing a market for the jewellery trade.

Within the announcement, I discuss each about Pietra, and Ro/Pan and the staff and additionally concerning the traits of ex-Uber alumni that make me excited to put money into them: 1) the ceo mentality of ops groups and “packages and platforms.” 2) distinctive experience with marketplaces and community results, and 3) deep scaling and know-how infra.

I included all the Pietra announcement under, which was initially printed on the a16z blog here.

Thanks!
Andrew

 

Marketplaces, Pietra, and the Community Results of Subsequent Startup Expertise

One in all my focus areas as an investor is marketplaces, as a result of I’ve seen firsthand how they’ll rework an trade — particularly when in addition they have community results that may result in big scale and affect. And whereas marketplaces have been evolving into new areas for some time — together with services — I particularly love how marketplaces present up in attention-grabbing and generally surprising locations, locations the place know-how has not gone earlier than.

One such space is jewellery (sure, jewellery!). Despite the fact that gems and jewellery have been on the middle of artwork, commerce, and tradition because the daybreak of human civilization — going from stone jewellery created 40,000 years in the past in Africa to the commerce routes between East and West to Fifth Avenue in New York to the Instagram feed in your cellphone — the know-how for locating, designing, and buying jewellery on-line hasn’t advanced a lot in any respect. But jewellery is without doubt one of the classes that would profit most from fashionable developments corresponding to social media, cell, and mass personalization. That is very true for the unbelievable number of artisans and boutique jewellery distributors on the market who at present can’t entry larger markets, or the deep know-how experience and stacks of larger gamers.

That’s why I’m excited to announce Andreessen Horowitz’ seed funding in Pietra, a brand new startup centered on a market for the jewellery and particularly the diamonds trade. In case you wished to purchase a diamond engagement ring, the method goes one thing like this: “Are you aware the place I can purchase a diamond?” “I would know a man.” That “man” (extra usually a household enterprise, an aggregator, or different participant) then sells you a diamond with little or no transparency into provide, pricing, or different issues. That sort of alternate is ripe for know-how to return in between and mediate issues — not solely effectively connecting suppliers to consumers, but in addition increasing provide and demand for each sellers and consumers past native limits.

Jewellery represents $200B+ of annual spend, however stays a extremely fragmented and opaque market… it’s one more means market companies can present extra transparency, selection, and even training for shoppers. So Pietra goals to completely modernize the jewellery shopping for expertise throughout each touchpoint by providing lovely, mobile-first product discovery; chat and collaboration instruments to raised have interaction, negotiate, and buy jewellery; and vetted suppliers, together with curated product strains from boutique jewelers, influencers, and celebrities.

The staff comes with a long time of deep experience in vogue, luxurious commerce, and marketplaces. Co-founders Ronak Trivedi and Pan Pan are two of my former colleagues from Uber, the place they led key efforts on UberPOOL and grew it from a brand new product solely obtainable in San Francisco to a world product supporting a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of journeys per yr and billions in gross bookings. That sort of scale issues in a market like this. The truth is, most of the core market classes and mindsets from Uber — mixed with the staff’s expertise within the jewellery trade, deep buyer insights, and ardour for design — led to their beginning Pietra.

I’m additionally personally very excited concerning the new wave of “community mafias” coming from individuals skilled at Bay Space startups who go on to do new and various things, usually borrowing from classes realized of their earlier startups. Basic examples embody Paypal, and more moderen examples embody Sq. and others. For Uber alumni specifically — which I can personally communicate to since I labored there for 3 years — there are three mindsets which might be compelling to me and that I like seeing in startup founders are: (1) an entrepreneurial mindset that’s baked in in any respect ranges; (2) specialised experience that may switch throughout industries; and (3) technical challenges coupled with networks of expertise.

As a result of rideshare grew metropolis by metropolis at Uber, it led to an entrepreneurial staff construction the place every metropolis had a Basic Supervisor (GM) who served because the de facto CEO of town, performing like a mini-startup within the context of the bigger group. Surge pricing and driver incentives had been first manually applied by native groups with SQL queries and spreadsheets, and solely later broadly applied in code by the software program groups at headquarters. Once I first joined Uber, every product staff was additionally set as much as be full stack, with out dependencies into different groups, permitting them to construct quick and iterate shortly to resolve challenges. This type of mindset — everybody’s the CEO of their very own mini-startup unit — is essential to quick cycles of innovation.

To make rideshare work as a world product, of us at Uber needed to resolve challenges in areas as various as Jakarta to Portland to ridesharing and meals supply. Whether or not it was fixing the cold-start downside in a brand new market, or determining the very best pricing and incentives, or rising community results in a extremely aggressive market, these insights may be translated to new industries. Beginning any new firm requires founders to show a sequence of insights into actions and merchandise.

To be clear, it’s not simply market experience that’s vital right here — it’s additionally about fixing deep technical challenges at scale in areas corresponding to machine studying, knowledge, infrastructure, mapping, automation, and far more. However the social side of the Uber alumni community can also be interesting, with a wealthy ecosystem of oldsters advising and angel investing in firms, paying it ahead and creating a brand new era of startups.

I’ve mentioned it earlier than: know-how changes, but people keep the identical. Whether or not it’s making use of new behaviors and applied sciences to evergreen issues — like jewellery! — or the evergreen turnover of a brand new wave of entrepreneurs founding the subsequent generations of startups (in developer APIs, video streaming, SaaS, and many others.), I’m excited to see what everybody does subsequent. And I’m wanting ahead to investing in additional firms like Pietra.

The submit Announcing Pietra and a16z — my first ex-Uber investment! can also be printed on andrewchen.

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