The New York Times published an article about startups helping small businesses last week. It was something that I’ve thought about a lot over the past 2+ years. When we originally began investing in startups at Crane, we wanted to divise a seed-stage investment strategy that fit within the scope of a hedge fund that invested across multiple industries and stages, but mainly within private equity.
With the rise of sole proprietors and small businesses in the US, as well as the heavy concentration of those types of businesses in the sectors we were looking at more broadly investing in, I developed an investment thesis centered around early-stage technology companies that were helping small businesses. This led to two investments to back this thesis; the first being Bench, and the second being Doctor.com.
Small businesses often hit roadblocks when they become larger than just a service provided by an individual. Whether its the dentist who now needs to become an accounting pro, or the entrepreneur who must scale a team, and with it, grow benefits, HR, legal, etc. Either way, these are problems that come with growth and should be milestones for these budding entrepreneurs, not an impediment to their continued success. The NY Times article goes into this in more depth, so I’ll stop there.
As some people are claiming that Silicon Valley isn’t solving real problems (and at times, it does feel that way), I’m happy to see these companies getting noticed. It always was incredible to hear about saving an entrepreneur multiple work hours and dollars via our portfolio companies, and I’m glad I was able to play a tiny part in that.