By Bay Mclaughlin | In honor of this edition of Jumpstart being about TravelTech, I’m going to share one of our biggest secrets at Brinc… how we evaluate investment opportunities (tips for all the Investors out there) and share a story of our thesis in practice (tips for all the Founders out there).
There are a lot of ways you can spend your money and time these days. There are also a lot of problems to solve in the world. But after a decade in Silicon Valley and almost five years in Asia, I’ve found that it’s more exciting and rewarding to work on problems in Asia vs developed world problems… what I like to call ‘Silicon Valley problems’ like apps that help you have craft beer delivered faster.
Instead, we focus on problems that pass our internal litmus test… what we call the IoT Value Equation. It’s simple, but profound.
X (Problem) x Y (Effect) x Z (Duration) = Impact or Opportunity
Let’s take the travel industry for example. When you take your luggage traveling, you assume it’s safe. Well, you may not be surprised to hear that… it’s NOT! While it may not have happened to you, 23,000 people report that their luggage is tampered with (broken into, items stolen, or foreign objects placed into the bag) EVERY DAY. What’s more is that 50% of incidents go unnoticed or don’t get reported (that brings the number up to 46,000 incidents per day).
Let’s evaluate this opportunity using the IoT Value Equation. 46,000 pilfered bags per day x US$101 average cost per incident x 365 days = US$1.7 billion dollars lost every year due to this problem. Even worse, 74% of baggage claims are rejected due to lack of proper documentation or proof.
Enter the Lantrn Protect, one of Brinc’s portfolio companies and a story to learn from for Investors and Founders alike.
TravelTech seemed sexy back in 2015 when we met Aaron Cooper, the Founder of Lantrn, but his solution wasn’t really solving the real problem that faced the industry. But we invested in him, not his solution, and worked with him for nearly a year to chip away at this challenge.
Once he stopped focusing on what the industry, Silicon Valley and the media were saying was cool (think back to all the ‘smart bag’ companies that have now come and gone), he figured it out… the lock! It’s the only part of luggage that has become a standard and so he set out to make it smart.
Now, the Lantrn Secure is the first suitcase to come preinstalled with Lantrn’s smart TSA-approved lock. It monitors everything, and responds to any tampering attempts with a high powered LED light to make people think twice before doing things they shouldn’t. It knows and records if the TSA opened your bag, if someone tries guessing your combination, or if someone tries to break in with a screwdriver. If you’re within Bluetooth range, it will send you an alert.
If you want to learn more, check out Lantrn.co, or ping me @Betabay if you want a discount on your very own Lantrn protected bag.
Takeaway For Investors And Founders
Investors… there are CRITICAL problems to solve and here in the East. We have the opportunity to set the tone by investing in Founders and problems that will do real good in the world. Invest in Founders not products or solutions, allow your Founders to take their time vs pressuring to launch, and be willing to jump into the trenches with them on weekends, nights, and holidays to help refine the idea until you find the diamond in the rough… and stop taking cues from Silicon Valley, the media, or whatever is hot right now.
Founders… be obsessed with a problem, not your solution. Aaron wanted to fix the travel industry, but his first ideas weren’t going to move the needle. If you relentlessly focus on your problem, you won’t care if you need to change your solution. Aaron changed his dozens of times before he figured out the magic bullet. And make sure to stay lean as long as you can. You don’t want to rely on investors to make your company a reality… you need to make it happen no matter what.
Feel free to reach out to me for anything. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the IoT Value Equation or anything else from my article. And always feel free to ask me anything using #AskBetaBay on any social channel. Until the next edition of Jumpstart… Keep Living In Beta… peace!
About The Author
Bay McLaughlin, aka BetaBay, is a Co-Founder of Brinc and the COO. Bay is an active Investor with 50+ portfolio companies, sits on the board of four companies, writes a weekly column for Forbes called This Week in China Tech, and is a professional speaker and KOL for Huawei and Insta360.