Making a comparison between business-to-business (B2B) vs. business-to-consumer (B2C) companies that reached multi-billion dollar market caps in the last decade, Jim Goetz, Partner at Sequoia Capital recently stated that entrepreneurs are missing a $500B opportunity by not focusing their efforts on starting new B2B enterprises. Instead most entrepreneurial efforts tend to serve the B2C market.
If, then, I were an entrepreneur with a triple bottom line (aka ‘people, planet, profit’) focus but were largely agnostic about the industry I operated in, where my business was located, or what customers I served, what type of business would I set up? Given Goetz’s argument, I would do well to build companies in the B2B space.
Just for the mental exercise, Craig and I sat down and brainstormed a list of possible ideas. We started by thinking of industries that are ubiquitous around the world, such as hospitality and transportation came to mind immediately as well as housing/building and infrastructure. Given that most of the world’s population lives in cities, many of our ideas centered around metropolitan areas. In our brainstorming it was ok to improve on ideas that are currently being implemented in one market and introduce into another and we didn’t spend the time to iron out all the operational details. Caveats notwithstanding, here’s our list, in no particular order:
1) Car cleaning services for taxis and business travellers while waiting or parked at airports or other transportation hubs.
2) Upgrade all public parking areas with readers for credit cards and mobile phones so that drivers can swipe their cards or phones when they enter and exit the lot and the appropriate fee would be deducted, reducing the need for paper tickets and receipts.
3) Most hospitals are like rabbit warrens so create map apps for hospitals so patients and staff can easily find their way around, e.g., Google Maps is currently trialing this concept at Mall of America. Other applications might be for airports (O’Hare comes to mind), university campuses, or large manufacturing plants.
4) Create an app to be sold to insurance companies that identify all providers of particular services, e.g., XRays, in the vicinity of their customer base to help identify lower cost providers.
5) Collaborative writing tool for academic writers, e.g., when working with multiple authors on a single project, keep documents in a single online location which can keep track of changes, versions, authors etc. Basically a Dropbox.com tool tailored for academia.
6) Device and (device agnostic) supporting software for hotel staff to automatically update the status of a room so that reservations and management can have real time information regarding cleaning, fridge restocking and services of individual rooms throughout a hotel complex. Other applications might be for public toilets at large facilities such as airports or stadiums.
8) Manage leftover food donations on behalf of restaurants, hotels, and other eating establishments.
If you could build a sustainable company anywhere in the world for any B2B industry what would you do?