Combining Digital Technology with Retro Communications
Smart Investments with Big Market Opportunities
It is rare that I invest in direct-to-consumer products, but the very personal video marketing Dorrian created really resonated with me and reminded me of my own early marketing efforts for my startup, Vungle. While the company estimates that over 3 million upscale homes have the appetite and income to invest in high quality art in their homes, Dorrian also used crowd-funding platforms to prove demand for his product. The product has been well received, which is something every investor looks for; Vestaboard currently has over $5 million in pre-orders.
In addition, I could see multiple sectors benefitting from this product, including the global smart display and smart digital signage market, which is expected to grow from $861 M in 2018 to $6.6B by 2025 (a CAGR of 34%!). Honestly, if I could rewind the clock, I would have had one of these in every office at Vungle when we were just getting started, to foster a more personalized daily touch point with my coworkers.
If consumers adopt this for their homes, it has the potential to be a “must-have” product, and if you are going to buy one, you might as well buy multiple Vestaboard units so that you can communicate back and forth with those you want to share that close connection. In today’s world of family group chats and weekly pandemic-inspired family Zoom calls, Vestaboard offers a powerful new way to communicate and when those wheels start to spin, family members will wait with great anticipation for what the board will say next.
There are two distinct elements that will drive the product’s functional success: the product itself and the associated management technology. The product is comprised of 132 modular character units, with 56 alpha numeric characters (the alphabet, 10 numbers, and several other special characters) and 8 different color blocks. The integrated technology allows you to control the board using a mobile app, cloud app, API, or smart home products from Apple, Google, or Amazon’s Alexa.
Investing in Tech Startups That Create New Markets
The greatest innovators create more than a product; they create entire new markets. To me, this is a measure of the magnitude of an idea and a great reason for investing in a tech startup. Apple gave birth to multiple industries with its innovations, and I can see that Vestaboard has the opportunity to create entire ecosystems on top of its concept. Developers can create all types of apps of that would allow people to subscribe to a service that would display inspiring quotes, or news or weather updates on their Vestaboard. The company also anticipates interest from artists and others who might want to create applets for the board.
Investing in Tech Startups with a Strong Mission
I think for most investors, while they may be interested in the social agenda of a project, it’s the financial reward that’s the real light at the end of the tunnel. Vestaboard certainly has the potential to create strong returns for its investors for the reasons already outlined, but this product experience was a different one for me. When I first saw Vestaboard, I had a completely emotional reaction. In my own life, I haven’t been able to see my parents since before this whole pandemic started. I was blown away by the potential, and I felt an immediate emotional draw to Dorrian’s mission. I need this was a feeling, more powerful than just a thought.
So, I got it. I understood that it’s a visceral form of communication, organization and artistic expression — the kind of subconscious cue that can change your day for the better. I could see myself using it to communicate to my parents as I maintain my distance, or to keep in close connection with my kids. I understood how I could reap the benefits of inspiring technology without slipping further into the digital dark hole.
At first glance, it might seem like just a toy for rich people, but the truth is, it’s hard to put a price on the things that bring us closer to the people in our lives.
These boards are art pieces, home decor, and communication vehicles all in one. It can fill the white space in our lives with inspiration, transforming otherwise blank walls and giving us a tangible way to invest in emotional intimacy with the people around us.
It’s another important innovation in the realm of human communication. Besides being an enticing product, it’s simply a sound investment.