Innovation is the hallmark of all successful subscription businesses. At our Subscribed conference in London last fall, we showcased four companies that exemplify the spirit of innovation — Babylon Health (healthcare), SurfAir Europe (aviation), Notion Capital (VC firm with SaaS focus), and Telenor Connexion (telecommunications). Read on to find out more about how these trailblazers are profoundly impacting the way we live, travel and do business!
“Are you solving the most important problem for the customers who value it the most? Do you have a business model that allows you to scale and grow the business rapidly?” — Stephen Millard, CPO, Notion Capital
Notion Capital has successfully curated a strong portfolio of subscription businesses. With around 300 million under management, they are a B2B SaaS only venture capital firm investing in exceptional entrepreneurs across Europe at seed and Series A stages. In CPO Stephen Millard’s words, their focus is “ Purely B2B, purely SaaS, subscription businesses”. The firm invests in companies that they believe solve industry defining problems. “When you invest, you invest because you believe this team is solving an important enough problem in a big enough market and they’ve got the ability to build an incredible outcome,” explains Millard.
Speaking on the transition from products to services, Millard shared thoughts on the trend amongst startups — “They come from a “solving a problem” perspective instead of “selling a product”. They sell a service and they charge for a piece of the value created by that service. They don’t have a price list anymore, they take a piece of the value created. The thing that sets the good companies that solve an interesting problem from the great companies that achieve a great outcome, is the ability to innovate a business model and to execute it better than anybody else.”.
With 30 companies under their wing, Notion Capital is building an AI-assisted business platform that assists in the acceleration of success, programmatic support, and network capability. “How do we help the companies we invest in to fulfill their potential? While every single one of our companies is different and what’s going to make them incredibly valuable is always going to be unique, they also have a lot of structural similarities. Now that’s a benefit for us as a SaaS VC. We believe we can really make a difference to their success,” says Millard.
What the companies provide is big data, and what Notion Capital gains is an ability to work with the company and its data, offering feedback, and investing intelligently. It’s a big data ecosystem — the companies collect and use data to progress their business, while Notion Capital is at a different vantage, analyzing the investments to plan for tomorrow. “We go through a constant loop in terms of are you solving the most important problem for the customers who value it the most? Are you building a product that solves that well, and do you have a business model that allows you to scale and grow the business rapidly,” says Millard.
“Sustainability today is a great opportunity for business. If you solve some of the major sustainability problems, you will be around for awhile.” — Fredrik Östbye, VP of Business Development, Telenor Connexion
Telenor Group is one the world’s largest multinational telecommunications companies with operations in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Telenor’s venture arm is focusing on advancing IoT and M2M technologies.
Speaking on Telenor’s latest IoT ventures in energy, water, and transportation sectors, Östbye said: “We have a passion for sustainability, so our focus falls on identifying things that help us simplify our daily lives, but also keep the planet around for a longer time.”
One of their investments is in Luda Farm, a “smart farming” company that’s using modern technologies to address sustainability issues. The company is building platforms that communicate with farming communities and helps them retrieve accurate weather and environmental information which in turn allows for better decisions come harvesting time.
“We are also investing in a few startups that we’ve picked up internally. One is helping us as people in our daily lives — We have a service that takes care of your home lock and enables food companies to deliver food to your fridge, cleaning companies to clean your house and other services to deliver when you’re away, “ says Östbye. The company is also working with a German scooter company on a transportation solution for the last mile. This subscription-based service is similar to bike-sharing programs in the US — one simply utilizes their mobile app to locate a scooter, activate it and ride away.
Healthcare, transportation, SaaS ventures, and sustainability: four key sectors undergoing major innovation. Keep an eye on how these companies change the world around us and shape our tomorrow!
Read about Babylon Health and SurfAir Europe here.