Venture Capitalist Shervin Pishevar has served as a sort of investment oracle for people all over the world. And the futurist and philanthropist has plenty to crow about, since he’s invested in a number of winning companies including Uber, airbnb, Postmates, Slack and Hyperloop One. But even though he seems to work as a super angel for companies in a broad number of industries, he definitely has a formula for picking some of the best investments.
So, how does this philanthropist and venture capitalist decide to put money into a fledgeling company? Let’s look at handful of his picks and explore his method for choosing each one.
Getaround: A peer-to-peer model for the rental economy
Shervin Pishevar has a track record for choosing transportation companies that will truly flip the script on the entire industry. Shervin Pishevar co-founded HyperloopOne (now Virgin HyperloopOne), which is destined to be the alternative to both trains and airplanes. He invested in Uber early on, seeing the value in the sharing economy. He invested in Cherry, an on-demand car washing service, which was eventually bought by Lyft.
But what is it about Getaround that attracted venture capitalist Shervin, enough for him to invest in the company?
First, let’s start with the sharing economy right now. At the moment, the transport industry is dominated by Uber and Lyft. But even beyond these two companies, the rental economy is stronger than ever, especially in the city, where scooters and bikes are rented with the tap of a button.
Uber as a company is playing a big role in this rental economy, introducing their JUMP bikes, which can be unlocked and rented using their app.
Getaround is the perfect example of the best of the rental economy. Getaround allows you to rent cars from other people in your area. If you need a car for four hours, for instance, you can rent a Getaround vehicle rather than paying for someone to drive you around.
Entrepreneur Pishevar chose Getaround because it’s a twist on the current transportation industry. It looks beyond what’s happening now, and into the future, where peer-to-peer transport means easy transactions – no middleman required.
Getaround has already shown that it has staying power as an investment. In August of last year, the carsharing company received $300 million in funding, in an investment round led by Softbank. Company brass said it will use the new investment to grow and expand the company’s footprint and number of partnerships.
And the equation is good for both drivers and people who rent their cars out on the Fair network.
According to a GeekWire story on Getaround, from May of last year:
Getaround says that car owners who rent their vehicles on the service make about $500 per month, and the average car owner makes about $6,000 annually. Getaround takes a 40 percent cut on rental revenue.
Getaround fashions itself as a sort of Airbnb for cars – an extraordinarily successful company that venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar invested in when it was in its early stages.
Brandless – Delivering name brand quality on a budget
Anyone who has shopped for clothing, furniture, and even medication, knows that the best quality products usually cost more. But until the launch of Brandless, one of the killer startups Super Angel Shervin Pishevar has invested in, it was tough to get high-quality products for affordable prices.
The team at Brandless understood this, so they came up with a radical premise. Why not take the brand name out of the equation, and simply deliver high-quality products at deeply discounted prices?
Brandless works with manufacturers all over the planet to deliver food and beverages, health and beauty, home and office and other products that are organic, non-GMO, held to the highest safety and purity standards, and more. As investor Shervin Pishevar invested into the company, you can be certain that he understood that name brand quality goods don’t have to cost a fortune.
“We’re trying to build a better way, starting with our culture and our team, then looking at the supply chain and looking at how we can bring efficiency to it by going direct. And then building direct relationships with the community we serve,” said Brandless CEO Tina Sharkey said in a Retail Dive article in January. “The thing that’s so cool about having those relationships is that they literally tell us, either through their posts, their tags, their emails, their tweets, what they’re looking for, and we respond in kind.”
Another attraction to investor Shervin Pishevar is the Brandless subscription model. Customers can pay monthly for a specific set of products – from diapers to lotion to food – and enjoy deliveries on a regular basis. Venture capitalists like Shervin Pishevar have long seen the importance of regular cash flow, and a subscription model is ideal when you’re an investor looking for a company with a potential long-term future.
Cue: Advanced healthcare that starts at home
Telemedicine has often been viewed as the next big frontier in medicine for venture capitalists and investors like Shervin Pishevar, but that’s just one piece of the evolution of medical services. While future-focused films go all-in with the idea of robots and holograms handling our medicine, the frequent Tweeter and social media savvy Pishevar understood that there’s a way to manage your health outside of that skype call with your doctor.
Enter Cue Health. Shervin Pishevar invested in Cue after hearing about the company’s plans to deliver self-serve lab tests that can diagnose certain conditions and send that info to a customer’s mobile phone. With Cue, customers are given a small diagnostic system. To take samples, customers must use a special Cue Health nasal swab to gather a sample, put the swab in Cue’s diagnostic system, and view the final verdict on their mobile phone.
For the person diagnosed with the flu or other illness, a doctor can be contacted. This element is especially important, because in the case of a pandemic, it will allow patients to stay home and use home health care rather than risk infection from visiting a local hospital or clinic.
Since venture capitalist Shervin has invested, Cue has also gained $45 million in funding — series B. The healthcare operation has also gotten $30 million in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Around the time of the announcement that Cue had raised the $45 million, Ayub Khattak, Cue Health’s founder and CEO, said the company’s investors had “strong expertise across medical diagnostics, regulatory affairs, and consumer health,”
It’s worth mentioning that super angel Shervin Pishevar is one of those investors, as the venture capitalist not only attended U.C. Berkeley as a cellular biology major, he won a presidential fellowship so he could continue his work at the prestigious university. He also co-wrote a Journal of the American Medical Society article, which served as the basis for documentation and international guidelines for torture.
Fair: Car rentals for Uber drivers…and more
For many people, one of the biggest barriers to driving Uber is not having the right vehicle. Uber has strict requirements for the vehicles it allows on its network, starting with the year and model, and drilling down to how many doors each vehicle has — and even if the car has leather seats. Naturally, UberX has the most lenient restrictions — a four-door car that is 2004 or newer will do — while UberLUX, the company’s highest-end service, requires that luxury vehicles be no older than 2010 models.
Other costs for driving Uber? Insurance, maintenance and repairs, and keeping the vehicle in tip-top shape.
Drivers often use their own vehicles for transport, but this means that normal wear and tear and repairs are the responsibility of the driver. With Fair, a startup in California, potential (and existing) Uber drivers can lease a car for less than $200 per week, which includes insurance, mileage, roadside assistance, a warranty, routine maintenance, and even a refundable deposit.
Another attractive reason venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar invested in Fair? The company’s reward program. If drivers finish 70 trips in a single week, they earn $185 in Uber rewards. This generous reward covers weekly car payments. For those who complete 120 Uber trips in their Fair vehicle, they can earn $305.
As part of the inventory, drivers can rent a variety of compact cars, including Nissan Versas, Chevrolet Sparks, Toyota Corollas and more.
But what about drivers who need a car, but don’t drive Uber? Fair.com allows users to order a car using their phones.
OpenGov: Helping local governments budget and better serve their constituents
One of the most frustrating things about local and national governments alike is the lack of transparency. At city council meetings and large-scale community gatherings, you can always find people who complain that their government takes in plenty in taxes, but delivers very little in return. OpenGov, a financial transparency platform, was created to not only shine a light on what governments are budgeting, but help government employees maximize the money they’re given.
Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar invested in OpenGov to deliver much-needed transparency in government, via a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform. The company is described as a way to connect stakeholders to the process of budgeting and setting performance goals. With the platform, members of governments can view everything from salaries to supplies, services and transfers, capital outlay and equipment.
Since the company’s launch and super angel Shervin’s investment, OpenGov has landed a number of high-profile clients, including California agencies like the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the Health and Human Services Agency, and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Other clients include Pueblo County, Colorado, Culpeper County, Virginia, and St. Petersburg, Florida.
An Axios story on government transparency captured why philanthropist and entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar decided to invest in the company.
The company says its primary goal is to help local governments be more transparent, which Bookman hopes will help increase citizen engagement and trust as well as overall efficiency and accountability. Bookman also thinks OpenGov helps local journalists by making information readily available.
Another angle to the software is information gathering and surveys. Local governments often struggle with telling their constituents why they’ve made certain costs and purchases priorities. This in turn makes the public angry, and by the time the government officials have explained why they’ve invested in something specific, their constituents no longer want the information.
With OpenGov, users can both solicit feedback during meetings, as well as take surveys to get the pulse of their constituents on hot-button issues.
As a noted philanthropist who has donated to numerous charities around the world — and even travelled to Africa to see fresh water wells being built — Shervin Pishevar understands the frustration of having to deal with governments that hide their intentions. OpenGov aligns with venture capitalist Pishevar’s philanthropic ideals, which include governments that serve their people with transparent intentions.
Doctor on Demand: Telemedicine that delivers care within minutes
Investors have long been fascinated with telemedicine, which allows people to meet with physicians online as opposed to travelling to a doctor’s office for an appointment. In the beginning, venture capitalists saw, early on, how this could transform medicine in rural areas, where it could take hours just to get to the nearest health clinic. Now, with busy schedules and limited sick time, an executive assistant in a large, urban city is as likely to use telemedicine as a farmer.
But what venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar invested in with Doctor on Demand is time. Unlike many other telemedicine services, Doctor on Demand helps patients meet with a physician for physical or mental health within five minutes at any point in the day.
Doctor on Demand users can also have their telemedicine physicians call in prescriptions, order tests and treat both acute and chronic conditions.
Just recently, the company did something truly radical. Using a platform named Synapse, Doctor on Demand began empowering employers and health insurance companies all over the country to offer telemedicine to their own clients. With this platform, for the very first time, businesses will legitimately be able to deliver healthcare that never require an employee (patient) to see a physician in person.
The platform addresses the following alarming news, released in a Doctor on Demand statement earlier this year:
Research shows that healthcare outcomes and costs in the U.S. are strongly linked to the availability of primary care physicians and a continuum of care. Despite this, 30 percent of American adults and 45 percent of Millennials do not have a primary care physician. Over the next decade, this will be compounded by the expected physician shortfall of over 100,000 providers — one third of whom are primary care physicians. With the population aging and the prevalence of chronic disease growing, enormous burdens on medicine, especially primary care, are rising.
The key to Doctor on Demand’s success has been a focus on four areas of medicine:
- Urgent care
- Behavioral health
- Preventative health
- Chronic care.
For urgent care users, this means that having the flu, nausea or that killer migraine can be treated and addressed at home, rather than having to sit in a waiting room with so many other sick people. Behavioral health users facing panic attacks, depression and anxiety are only minutes away from a professional physician’s help.
The introduction of health insurance to the telemedicine equation is one more reason that investor Shervin Pishevar pinpointed Doctor on Demand as a good investment. It is, in some ways, a peer-to-peer system just for medicine.
Throughout 2019, look for futurist Shervin Pishevar to make more investments in companies that not only seem to have longevity, but are looking beyond the technology trends that are happening right now.
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