Current Investment Themes in the Entrepreneurial Community

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Every week, when writing the Rearview Mirror, I always have difficulty categorizing deals.  It would be great to be consistent and always use the same headings.

However, four-plus dimensional data base is required to properly sort the deals.  So much overlapping.  And since my love affair with math ended at complex variables, that database is beyond me.  There’s always a new wrinkle, or something . . .  For example, does an educational product that is mobile belong in education or mobile?

Simple is better, so we’re sticking with the flat file system, until my classmates from CalTech, Chris Wheeler or Rob Chess, take over the task.

In chronicling these deals, What’s fascinating, and hopeful at the same time, is that these entrepreneurs are finding funding, in spite of the oft sung “Death of Venture Capital” chorus.

Here’s the current list:

Cloud Anything

  • PaaS:  Platform As A Service, you name the platform
  • Distributed storage
  • Distributed Databases:  Continues from Hierarchical to Relational

CRM [Customer Relationship Management]

CRM for any vertical.  As in:  MindBody for health clubs, Posiq for restaurants, allyDVM for veterinarians, or [name your VERTICAL]


  • Online education/education programming tools/
  • Education platforms or MOOCs:  Remind101


  • Digital Currency which is country agnostic, but prone to hackers
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • Peer-to-peer lending:  As a matter of fact, borro “popped” up as I was researching this blog post.
  • Investment platforms:  AngelList


  • Gaming networks: Big, big $$$


  • Biotech
  • Healthcare platforms
  • Healthcare Information Systems
  • Big Data Applications in Healthcare

International Knockoffs

  • Alibaba and Meican in China
  • Snapdeal in India


  • Big Data/Analytics
  • Business Intelligence
  • Targeted ads
  • Ad Networks


  • Anything Mobile
  • Apps: of any flavor
  • App/Platform Development Tools
  • Compute Anywhere

Quantified Self:

  • Think Fitbit, Nike Connect, Misfit Wearables’ Shine

Far and away the 2013 Christmas blockbuster category.  How many “quantified self” gadgets do you own?  I’ll confess to six:  Garmin Swim, Wythings blood pressure monitor and “smart body analyzer” scale, iHealth blood pressure monitor, Shine, Nike Connect.

Real estate

  • Online real estate:  You name it.  Anything with big dollars associated with it, is going to be big.


  • Internet Retailing:  Of anything or any product, in any country or continent
  • Flash sale sites
  • Auction sites

Security, be it physical or cyber:

  • From to Canary, a silo’d home security system complete with camera and smartphone app, run off your internet (started on Indiegogo) to the Israeli cybersecurity startups

Service Dis-intermediators:

  • Independent third party service providers such as  Uber, Postmates, Task Rabbit, Airbnb, Hellofood


  • Tools: In addition to the obvious, such as Facebook and LinkedIn: social recruiting tools and much, much more
  • Non-equity crowd funding:  KickStarter, Indigogo
  • Crowd curated services:  Angie’s List; ClubLocal
  • Career management:  LinkedIn, RiseSmart

Strategic Catch-up Social Acquisitions

  • Large Company acquires Small Company:  though not enough to make Venture Capital a profitable industry.  This is particularly prevalent in Social and Media/Ad Networks.

[BLANK] Anythings

  • Wireless anything:  Sonos Play: 1 or Canary to Nike Connect.
  • Mobile Anything
  • Embedded-in-Anything
  • Digitization of Anything

Please send me your additions/modifications to these lists.

Margaret Johns
Founder, BlueLake Partners


Jan Robertson
SiVal Advisors, LLC

Susan Woods and Vlad Harris

Margaret Johns is the Founder and Chairman of BlueLake Partners, a boutique M&A investment bank based in the Greater Boston Area.  Prior to founding BlueLake she was an employee founder and Managing Director at Needham & Company where she worked in Corporate Finance in New York City and headed up its Boston office.  She now lives in Londonderry, New Hampshire with her husband, 16 year old step-daughter and three pugs.  When she’s not working with clients, FINRA or writing blogs she competes on the Granite State Penguins Masters Swim Team, skis, rides her bike or is out walking her pugs.

Content researched, edited and reviewed on a best efforts basis.

We make no claim to being comprehensive in our review, as the contents are companies and topics we, ourselves, find of interest.

This newsletter is currently being proofed by Dave Henshaw, which is much appreciated. Dave is my USMS swimming lane mate, and Granite State Penguin team-mate.  He is retired from MIT, where he used to produce and proof their annual financial report.  Exactly what we need.