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Seeking Value: Frontier Tech Waves, Business Innovation and Pain Points

Emerging in waves every decade or so, a new epoch of frontier technology is born. Such technologies lead a new generation of business innovation that have the potential to displace existing processes in multiple verticals; each new period brings forth new businesses and ideas that were previously unachievable. 

Frontier technology and business innovation seem to demonstrate an interesting cyclical pattern. When a frontier technology emerges, new business innovations materialize and surf the “tech wave” to create new value — the larger the pain point, the more value created. 30 years ago, the personal computer; 20 years ago, the web/ internet technology; 10 years ago, smartphone and mobile technology — all majorly transformative to the day to day interactions of our society. 

If we examine the first principles and pain points of some large web companies to date, we can see that these companies had a business innovation that leveraged the capabilities of then-frontier web technology. 

For example, let’s take a look at the first principles of Yelp — breaking Yelp down to the fundamental problem it targets. Prior to Yelp, reviews of small businesses were aggregated by census through the Better Business Bureau, resulting in many inaccuracies and false business reviews. In addition, only through the yellow pages could one discover new businesses. With web technology, Yelp was able to host business information online and crowdsource reviews from the aggregate, effectively creating new value with web technology.

Web technology also reinvented the c2c buy-sell processes of goods and services through commerce platforms. The web era also allowed companies to reinvent the b2c commerce model. As such, one can realize how multiple industries — newspapers, travel bookings, digital music, video rentals, etc. — were impacted.

Over the lifespan of each tech era, it becomes harder to effectively target larger pain points as the frontier technology matures and several solutions to the same problems emerge. It becomes harder to provide substantial new value by leveraging senior technology as that technology era ages and primary pinpoints are addressed. The remaining pain points are smaller and likely will result in less value-add/ companies with a smaller cap. Value can still be creating by targeting niches or through unprecedented business models but such success in the later stage of a technology era remains vastly incomparable to the initial batch of “wave riders”. 

At Hemi, we pursue innovators who still enjoy looking at the stars without any lens—dreamers who love immersion but don’t limit their vision to just one thing. They are problem finders, not just problem solvers. Hemi looks to those who pioneer the frontiers of new technology—industry rebels who are fiercely seduced by a penchant for the avant-garde. We look for leaders, who diverge and seek to enable new markets, challenging contemporary industries with a daring juxtaposition. 

By doing so, Hemi hopes to bring to life the next generation of frontier technology that will enable a new perspective of how pain points will be addressed and how value can be created. Through investments in bio-tech, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, robotics and other frontier technology sectors, Hemi aspires to lay the framework and foundation for this next generation of business innovation by helping create the next era of frontier technology.