What spaces interest us at Switchyards (updated 5/13/17)

Ever since we had the idea for Switchyards Studios and the Founder in Residence program we knew that we’d eventually create a “war room wall” of spaces that the team thought were ripe for disruption.

Now that both programs are up-and-running, here is our very first list.

These are spaces that interest the Switchyards team and spaces where we could imagine disruptive models happening in the next few years.

Switchyards will consider founders with any consumer-facing business model, but we did want to keep a running list of areas that interest the team to attract founders/experts/opinions in these areas.

When we update this list, we’ll tweet to let everyone know. If you’re working in one of these areas, you can email us here.

Better Outdoor Spaces

We believe that the outdoor spaces of single family homes are not being serviced well enough by current local providers. Many startups across the country are focused on standard “mow & blow,” but not many are treating outdoor spaces like interior designers treat indoor spaces. We believe there’s a big opportunity to surprise & delight consumers with the outdoor spaces of their homes.

Disconnected Vacationing

We are more connected than ever in modern life with social media, smartphones and notifications. Also, people aren’t good at vacationing as they work more and increasingly live in urban environments. Add to this mix the quickly growing trend of fractional home use via Airbnb and we think there’s an opportunity to create a brand around weekend vacations that are truly disconnected.

Self-Storage Done Better

People are moving back into cities. We have reached “peak stuff” — the idea that we as consumers have plateaued in our desire to constantly accumulate things. There is more than 2.4 billion square feet of self-storage in the U.S. This is a very established, conservative industry that we think can be disrupted. And once you are established in this industry, the business could expand into many other big adjacent areas (eg re-use of local goods, craigslist competitor). Brand can also be layered on for an unfair advantage.

Peer-to-Peer Food

Food is a huge space because everyone eats every day. There are many venture-backed startups going after real-time delivery in cities. These startups are having trouble being profitable when you add logistics and customer acquisition costs to already slim food margins. We think there’s an opportunity for hyper-local food preparation and delivery done in ways that currently don’t exist.

Q&A For Home Services

Everyone should be able to get real-time answers to basic questions around the home. How do you fix a toilet? How much light does this plant need? How do I get this stain out of my carpet? We believe these answers could be a great way to connect consumers with the best home service people in town.

Re-Use of Local Goods

With the rise of the peer-to-peer economy, startups like Uber and AirBnb have gotten consumers accustomed to sharing. Over the next decade we believe this type of sharing will expand into many other areas that are less obvious right now. The re-use of home goods (ie goods used monthly or quarterly around the home) is an area that we’d like to explore.

Interior Design for Everyone

Living in a thoughtful environment should be available to everyone…not just people with big budgets. Startups are starting to disrupt this space, but we think what’s out there is only the beginning. This could be anything from software to help professional designers share pictures with clients to two-sided marketplaces…and everything in between.