Posts Tagged: iphone

New investment: Figure 1, a healthcare photo sharing app

Over the years, we’ve seen web and mobile technology disrupt business, education, legal and many other fields as professionals adopt products that help them work more effectively and efficiently.  While the healthcare industry has always been more conservative, it is now primed for change.

At Version One, we have been looking intensely for investment opportunities in healthcare, believing that the leaders of this disruption will be companies that are able to connect people (doctor-doctor, patient-patient, doctor-patient) in a large, secure, and regulatory-compliant network in order to democratize medical knowledge and increase access to care.

Today, we are thrilled to announce our first investment in this space:  Figure 1, a safe photo sharing app for medical professionals.  The product is a mobile, crowdsourced platform where healthcare professionals can upload, tag and discuss images (for example, images of surgical procedures or rare medical conditions).

Doctors may already share images with one another while in the same office or medical facility, but Figure 1 now offers the medical community a way to collaborate and communicate around images, no matter where they’re located. It breaks down traditional information silos which is key to improving patient care and medical education.  The app already has users across Canada, the US, and the UK.

Figure 1 was founded in early 2013 by a super talented team:  Joshua Landy, a critical care physician; Richard Penner, a mobile developer; and Gregory Levey, a JD/MBA. We are co-leading this investment with Rho Canada Ventures and are joined by several angel investors.  We are really excited to be a part of Figure 1’s journey going forward!

To learn more, visit or follow @figure1app on Twitter.

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Re-imagining the mobile use case

While Apple has not listened to my complaints ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google recently released the results of a new study on mobile search and conversions. Along with Nielsen, Google analyzed over 6,000 mobile searches and the actions that came after the search.

While there are quite a few interesting findings (including the fact that 55 percent of conversions occur within the first hour of the mobile search), the most significant takeaway for me is the fact that 77% of all mobile searches occur at home or at work; only 17% occur on the go (and 2% are in store). That means that more than three-fourths of all mobile searches are performed where a computer is also available to them.

Survey respondents said they chose mobile over desktop search for convenience and speed. The study quoted one respondent: ““It was easier on the mobile device as I didn’t have to get up [to] turn on the computer and wait for it to boot up.”

So, it appears that the shift to mobile that’s happening across all verticals is mainly a shift of devices, rather than the emergence of new use cases.

Think back three to four years ago when we all believed that the on-the-go use case would be the main driver for mobile. Yet on-the-go and in-store behaviors haven’t fully materialized. As the Google survey shows, mobile doesn’t necessarily mean “mobile.” We’re using tablets and smartphones while on the couch, in the kitchen, etc.

Take-away: re-imagine the mobile use case

What does this mean for startups? For starters, every web business needs to design a great mobile experience, as users will increasingly opt for a mobile device to access websites. The mobile experience should ideally be native for the particular device type and optimized for conversions on a small screen. In my opinion, this is where many apps fall short: they optimize their conversion funnel for a web experience and make mobile users return to a desktop to complete their activity.

But perhaps even more importantly, the Google survey makes it clear that major opportunities exist to build better on-the-go experiences. Frontdesk and Jobber, two portfolio companies in the vertical SaaS space, have built mobile-only solutions for managing a service business. But in many cases, we have not yet fully re-imagined the mobile-only or mobile-first experience.

However, with more mobile devices being sold than computers, it’s clear that there are countless opportunities for innovative mobile use cases in both the consumer and enterprise market. I for one am looking forward to seeing the next generation of mobile businesses.

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What are your predictions for 2011? Here are my top 4.

I didn’t do too badly predicting what would happen in the consumer Internet space in 2010 so I am giving it another try for 2011:

  • Android will become the most important mobile platform to develop for – the iPhone platform will be number 2, the rest (RIM, Windows Phone) will only play a marginal role. While Android has clearly been gaining market share on the iPhone in the past months, most developers still consider iOS the most important platform – this perception will change in 2011.
  • Mobile apps will start impacting offline purchasing decision in a significant way. 2010 has seen the launch of many mobile shopping app like Shopkick or Barcode Hero (a W Media portfolio company) but 2011 will be the break-through year for “local, mobile commerce”.
  • Early-stage financing will continue to be close to a bubble as there is simply too much money chasing too few deals. So if you run a start-up, think about raising that next round of financing rather earlier than later. (On a side note: the Canadian market is clearly not as hot as the US market).
  • IPO and M&A markets will finally open up. It has been long time since we have seen a major IPO in the web space and a hot M&A market – I thought that this would already happen in 2010 but hey, 2011 is good enough!

I originally wanted to come up with 5 predictions but had a hard time finding as many without either completely speculating or stating the obvious – so what do you think will happen in 2011?

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New investment: Barcode Hero, a “Foursquare for shopping”

UPC-A barcode
Image via Wikipedia

After the investment in Empire Avenue last week I am very excited to announce another investment today: Barcode Hero‘s mission is to help shoppers in physical stores, through breakthrough mobile technology. Simply put, it is like a “Foursquare for shopping”: Barcode Hero users scan products at home or in a store, build their collection, and share recommendations with friends. Users can follow others to get their recommendations and compete for fun titles based on the products they interact with.

I met the two founders of the company, Blake Scholl and Jason Crawford, back in March in Seattle and decided after one meeting and a few emails exchanges that I wanted to invest. I usually take a bit longer for taking an investment decision but this one just felt right. First of all, there is tons of opportunity at the cross-roads of mobile, social and commerce to come up with the right product to help shoppers in an offline context. Secondly, Blake and Jason had convinced a few A-list angels like Ron Conway, Naval Ravikant and Owen van Natta to participate in the seed round. But most importantly, this just felt like a rock star team of founders with the right vision, background (Amazon, Whrrl) and ambition.

So really excited to be part of the Barcode Hero story forward – you can get the iPhone app here and try the product out yourself (currently only working in the US app store though).

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How to react to product problems (hint: not like Apple)

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

As the iPhone 4 antenna problem is slowly spiraling out of control (some people even start discussing a recall) I thought it would be a good time to review a few key points how to react to (serious) product problems as a company. I learned my share back in the AbeBooks days when we had a period of frequent down times that we didn’t manage that well. From my experience, there are 3 simple rules for dealing with serious product problems:

  • Be honest and open: denying the problem usually doesn’t work and only destroys your credibility as a brand. Corporate speak also isn’t effective. Just be completely honest with your customers and share as much information as you can: what happened, why it happened and what you are doing to fix it
  • Over-communicate with your customers: a disgruntled customer gets even angrier when he does not get timely updates about the problem so start communicating with your customers right away and provide frequent updates. If you don’t know yet what the problem is and when it will be fixed (e.g. in the case of a downtime where you still looking for the root cause), say so which is still better that not informing your customers at all.
  • Take the short-term financial hit: a recall of a product or crediting customers for service interruptions can cost a lot of money but if you are interested in building a great brand for the long-term, you must take the short-term financial hit. Your customers will reward you many times over with increased loyalty and positive word of mouth.

I don’t know if this antenna problem is serious enough for a recall of the iPhone 4 but I do know that Apple is currently destroying quite a bit of its incredible brand equity by being the (negative) headline story of many newspapers and blogs.

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