Pascal is Head of Business at Checkr, the co-founder of the upcoming On-Demand (Economy) Conference, and an angel investor at Weave Capital. He invests at the angel or seed stage, primarily in marketplaces, networks and the “On-Demand Economy” stack (Shyp, Sprig, Checkr, and Caviar). A native French, Pascal was the co-founder of VirtuOz (acquired by Nuance) and the now defunct on-demand gift delivery platform, SixDoors. He started his career at eBay in France.
What verticals interest you most right now within the on-demand economy?
I see two interesting open areas within the on-demand economy. The first one is the intersection of on-demand services and the Internet of Things. Breather, GetAround can exist because of new lock systems. But beyond locks, what new services can emerge from new possibilities created by IoT?
The second one is around B2B applications of on-demand services. I am convinced we are just scratching the surface there, both in the corporate and in the industrial world and we want to see more.
Actually, we are running a contest for the On-Demand Conference — we encourage all companies that are working on a B2B on-demand service to apply here. The winner will be announced on stage and will be invited to the speaker dinner at Shervin Pishevar’s house. The 5 best will get free tickets to the conference.
What are your biggest predictions for the year ahead?
Here are a few. If I am lucky, one of them will be true!
I think there is going to be some consolidation in the on-demand space (since I wrote this, Fitmob got acquired by ClassPass) — scale is key in these types of businesses, there is a shortage of drivers/delivery people across the board (especially in the Bay Area), and too many teams are building the same things in different cities/US regions. When software is all you sell, mergers of startup does not make sense because merging engineering team is really hard. I think this might be a little different.
Some numbers from Uber will leak and everybody will be shocked at how amazing their numbers are and how huge they have become so fast. Uber will be this generation of eCommerce’s Amazon.
I also believe that this is a year where Google is going to have their Microsoft moment — the European Commission is going after them, they thought they had won mobile with Android, but it seems to me that Android is more like Internet Explorer was in 2000. Important in the short term to protect a legacy business but not moving the needle for the things that will really matter in the long run.
On the other hand, Facebook Messenger will emerge as an incredible platform for content and commerce — and possibly damage Google’s foothold on transactional intent more so than everybody thought.
Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund (within the on-demand economy or otherwise)?
To be honest, if there was one, I would build it myself! When it comes to investment, I rarely look for a specific idea — but I have found that I am more successful when the idea comes in an area that I know well.
If you could wave a magic wand and instantly have any imaginable solution to a problem you’re facing (personally or at work), what problem would you solve?
If I had a magic wand, I would overhaul the health system in the US. Getting a high quality health plan is way too costly and difficult for most people who don’t work at a fast growing startup or a large company. Obamacare is a positive thing, but so many doctors refuse patients that have a plan from a state marketplace. I wish there was a solution, and I don’t have the feeling at all that current winners (Zenefits, Oscar) are actually tackling the most contentious issues. The whole incentive system for doctors is upside down, and I believe everybody is worse off — except the current players.
The current system does not provide any incentive for doctors to treat patients thoroughly. In that sense, I hope we are going to see more direct primary care providers in the Bay Area and throughout the US soon.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would encourage all entrepreneurs, professionals, curious minds, and investors to join us at the On-Demand (Economy) Conference, on May 19th in San Francisco. If you are interested in the space, you HAVE to come. More info here and tickets can be purchased here.
There’s going to be an amazing lineup with founders and executives fromUber, Lyft, Shyp, HomeJoy, Sprig, Munchery, Postmates, Caviar, DoorDash, Instacart, and many others, as well as VCs from Greylock, Homebrew and RRE Ventures, with a fireside chat by Shervin Pishevar (Founding Partner at Sherpa Ventures) interviewed by Semil Shah from Haystack. Join us!
And if you have a B2B on-demand startup, apply here. If selected as the winner, you’ll get to present your business on-stage, and the top 5 submissions will be given free tickets to the conference.
Requests for Startups is a newsletter of ideas that investors, companies, and influencers would like to fund. New readers can subscribe here. This issue was curated by Isaac Madan, Shaurya Saluja, and Andrew Jiang.