Requests for Startups: Jason Shuman (Corigin Ventures)

Born and raised in Boston, Jason comes from a family of entrepreneurs. An analyst at Corigin Ventures, he’s responsible for sourcing and analyzing deals, along with working with, and supporting portfolio companies. Prior to Corigin, Jason founded Category Five, an eCommerce mens footwear company that specialized in hand-sewn Boat Shoes (hence the twitter name, BoatShuman) and Driving Moccasins. Jason graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Miami where he now serves on the Entrepreneurship Board and Young Alumni Leadership Committee.

What startup verticals interest you most right now?

As a firm we look to invest in things that are impacting the future of consumer behavior and daily living. Over the past quarter I’ve been looking at the following:

  • VR — A variety of it’s natural applications whether that be for tourism, real estate, education, sports or other content. Also interested in the infrastructure that’s being built out around marketing tech and content creation by and for the masses.
  • The Aging in Place Movement — How the smart home/IoT can create safer environment for the elderly. Products or services that make the care givers/families lives easier when it comes to end of life planning, as well as the diminishing ability to perform ADLs (activities of daily living).
  • Real Estate Technology — We’re the venture capital arm of a large real estate holdings company, so we’re always looking at the latest in Real Estate Tech and how our portfolio can support founders. This includes everything from data analysis to property management, co-living and accounting. Our goal is to be forward thinking when it comes to every division of our real estate side (acquisitions, development, property management and lending), so we’ll honestly look at anything. I will say, though, that the future of living and what millennials’ preferences are is something that we talk about a lot.
  • eSports — We just made our first investment in the eSports space and I’m excited about the potential for the space. I will say though that some of the infrastructure already exists at scale and I’m not sure about the breadth of companies that will win big vs. a fair amount of verticals within the space becoming highly fragmented.
  • Mobile and Digital Health — I wrote a long medium post about why I like this space, but generally speaking it’s one of the last spaces that been heavily impacted by mobile and the fact is that improving patient outcomes, increasing accessibility and decreasing costs are 3 very strong valuable propositions which should be generating strong tail winds behind the movement.

What are your biggest predictions for the year ahead?

I think we’ll finally start to see some exits in the eCommerce space, for better or for worse. With the vertically integrated eCommerce movement starting to get more crowded, I’m interested in understanding who these companies exit to (can’t imagine PE shops really knowing the inner workings of these businesses very well yet) and what type of multiples they receive.

With more and more players entering the space, I think brands are going to have a hard time keeping their CAC down as well, which combined with the exit results may slow down the funding into these types of businesses.

On another note, great founders and companies will not struggle to fundraise in this environment. The smart ones, who are resilient, capital efficient and traction driven will continue to do big things and get funded.

Are there any specific company ideas that you really want someone to build and would potentially fund?

Not sure I’d be willing to fund it quite yet, but I’d love to see someone put together an adaptive learning platform for Virtual Reality. I think that evolution of education is still in its infancy and that by combining VR with adaptive learning you’ll be able to provide higher quality education to the masses (both inside and outside the U.S.). Ultimately, if things work out, you’ll be able to match a teachers teaching style to a students learning style, which should create a more effective and capital efficient way of learning.

If you could have a magic wand and instantly have any imaginable solution to a problem you’re facing, what problem would you solve?

I think like most people, I’d love for any repeatable or “brain-less” task to be automated so I can spend more time focusing on harder problems to solve/more important tasks. I think AI can also arm people in the near future with a tool that streamlines a lot of these processes vs. fully automating them, so hopefully we’ll see that happen soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Whether or not we see a slow down in the pace of funding, I’m a big fan of entrepreneurs who are absolutely obsessed with the industries that they’re playing in and starting a company for the right reasons. If the markets start to slow down, I think we’ll see the Founders that truly understand their “why” continue to grind through the challenges and succeed.

Startups are hard, but they’re an incredible experience. You’ll be emotionally and physically exhausted often times, but ultimately if you surround yourself with great people and are starting a company for the right reasons, then everything will work itself out.

If you as a Founder really know your Why, then I’d love to speak with you.

If you’re interested in Corigin, feel free to reach out to Jason directly via email.

If you think there’s someone we should feature in an upcoming issue, nominate them by sending us an email.

Requests for Startups is a newsletter of entrepreneurial ideas & perspectives by investors, operators, and influencers. This issue was curated by Isaac Madan (email).