Despite the economic impact of this crisis, there are many venture capitalists proclaiming they are “open for business,” eager to hunt down the next Uber, Slack, or Airbnb founded in the formative times of the last recession. The worst pandemic of the century appears to have occurred at the same time that the venture capital industry is sitting on a record amount of dry powder (unallocated capital) — $1.45 trillion in private markets by the end of 2019. As Stanford entrepreneurship professor Tina Seelig likes to say, “The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity.”
I am most motivated to be a venture investor in times like these, where we can clearly see massive problems within our existing ecosystem and partner with innovative entrepreneurs to meaningfully solve them. Let’s start by recognizing some of the problems brought to light by this crisis that could be aided by VC investment.
Health care and volunteer shortages
There’s a massive surge in the need for hospital workers — from doctors to nurses and administrative staff — on the front lines. There are also shortages of N95 masks, ventilators, and protective gear for health workers as well as a greater need for telehealth operations to provide advice, diagnoses, and ways to provide care outside of a doctor’s office. Food banks and blood banks have also seen massive drops in volunteers and donations despite their continued importance to serve a growing population of families in need.
We’ve already seen the early growth of many platforms addressing nursing staffing shortages such as nursing marketplaces Trusted Health, Incredible Health, and Medely, among many others. Additional opportunities lie in optimizing health care worker scheduling and worker support programs, especially for those nurses and doctors pulling multiple shifts a week.
I’ve seen lots of fragmented calls to action on social media platforms of friends with extra supplies of N95 masks looking to connect with health care providers in need. Huge demand and fragmented supply — a potential marketplace opportunity? Open Source COVID19 Medical…