Everyone Can Live the Luxe Life

As someone who owns a car and lives in a city, I routinely find it hard to find a parking spot and spend unnecessary time circling blocks in search of a coveted spot.  And when I do find a spot, I often end up getting a ticket or paying exorbitant garage rates.  Our latest investment in Luxe (http://luxevalet.com/) solves this problem!  Luxe is changing the parking experience for consumers in cities, and a major reason for their early success is due to vertical integration.  In fact, Luxe isn't really a valet service at all, but rather a full-stack parking solution.

How does it work?

The product provides consumers with on-demand parking via their valets and partner parking garages.  In addition to parking your vehicle, Luxe also offers premium add-ons such as a car wash and fueling up your vehicle for additional fees. The service itself is intuitive and easy. Users simply download the app and request where they would like to drop their car off. A valet then meets them at the designated spot, wearing an easy to identify bright blue uniform.  The valet then takes over, addresses you by name, and verifies their identity as a Luxe employee. You can track your car as it goes from the drop off point to its parking spot.

In addition to providing a great service to consumers, Luxe saves consumers money.  With parking rates in congested downtown areas pushing $50 per day, Luxe's maximum fee is only $15. Not only do they meet you anywhere in their service area for pick-up, but you can also schedule your car drop-off the same way. So, have the valet meet you at work in the morning, and then meet you off-site when you are done entertaining clients or are finished with a dinner meeting. Luxe takes convenience to the next level and does so in a cost-effective manner while saving consumers their most precious asset - their time.

While many people in Silicon Valley believe that car ownership and car usage is going down, it is actually increasing in North America as well as the rest of the world.  In fact, automobile sales are on the rise, 2.5 percent globally, and if this trend continues, the need for parking will become more critical. Circling the block in the morning could leave you late for an important meeting, while paying for a monthly parking spot can be very expensive for those who need ready access to downtown areas. As a full-stack parking solution, Luxe takes the guess work and anxiety out of parking.

Full Stack Integration Builds Trust

As a consumer, you don't want to worry about dealing with multiple vendors for a finished product, and the demand for end-of-line services is on the rise. For example, consider major tech players like Apple. Their vertical integration model of controlling the finished product has made them a top player in the consumer electronics industry. By maintaining quality standards, they have created trust among consumers that other businesses struggle to emulate. This same model applies across other industries, and Luxe hopes to prove it in the parking industry. By taking control of the pick-up and drop-off of cars, they take control of the entire parking equation and offer a full-stack solution.

By leasing under-utilized parking spaces, Luxe ties in the vertical with contracted spaces through alternative parking lots. Working with parking authorities to find and utilize spaces that would otherwise remain empty, Luxe manages to negotiate contracted rates that allow them to turn a profit. This is an example of vertical integration that creates added value for both parts of the service provider equation - the parking company earns more on empty spaces, while Luxe uses their contracted rates to determine cost levels and turn a profit based on predictable expenses.

Just The Beginning

Luxe is currently live in San Francisco, Los Angeles and today the company announced that the next three cities will be Chicago, Boston, and Seattle with more cities to come as they look to continue to rapidly scale the business.  The company has also announced the release of their Android app, feel free to download it here.  Luxe is just getting started on their journey and if you are excited about solving the parking problem and solving problems with tremendous amounts of data, shoot me an email (kerby@venrock.com). The team is looking to make hires across the board.  Feel free to use my invite code: RICHARD26 to take your first ride for free.  Now you have no excuse to not give Luxe a try!  

If you would like to read the company's announcement, which has an awesome infographic of their growth you can see it on the Luxe Blog.

Our Latest Investment - Beckon

Marketing professionals have more data at their fingertips now than at any other point in history. They have more channels to manage, more places to look, more administrative dashboards to monitor, and more decisions to make.

What Current Digital Marketing Looks Like

You have to:

  • Keep up with Facebook insights and the latest algorithm changes to know which post to sponsor or what graphic might receive the most engagement.
  • Check out Twitter analytics to see which hashtag received the most attention and what tweet received the most retweets and engagement.
  • Sign into Google analytics and your website dashboard every single day in an effort to understand who visits your site and what they do when they arrive.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Marketers need to know who their potential customers are and what they are most likely to engage with. In today's world of big data, you have several of choices. You can spend more time than you have looking at the data and formulating a plan for each channel your company uses, outsource this work to an agency, or to utilize a new option known as predictive analytics.

Predictive Analytics Will Transform Marketing

Dashboards like Beckon, a marketing software company that lets marketing professionals put the power of their data into their own hands and take appropriate action faster than ever before, will transform the marketing world. Beckon uses channel performance data, machine learning, and a myriad of business specific data points that can help marketers determine what, when, and where your content will receive the most engagement. The days of using anecdotal or generic data that may not apply to your brand or your followers are over.

Beckon is a dashboard and platform that collects data such as clicks, impressions, likes, and other engagement data and rationalizes that information into trends that can be used to make quick and concise marketing decisions that generate revenue and encourage customer retention. Beckon takes "the mess" out of all the data available to marketers and makes it easier to understand and easier to act on.

With predictive intelligence from Beckon assessing big data that is currently scattered across multiple channels, you'll be able to give your followers, audiences, and potential customers what they want, when they want it. By doing this, you'll increase engagement, build your brand, convert more leads, and increase revenue all while spending less time figuring out the data.

CMO's and other marketing professionals continue to have an increasing number of channels to manage and a growing amount of data to filter through. Predictive intelligence solutions like Beckon will help solve this issue for marketers, and we are excited to be a part of the journey!

Net Neutrality

Imagine this:

You sit down at your laptop one day and go to your favorite video streaming website. But instead of getting clips of hilarious cats, you get a message telling you that you have exceeded your streaming allowance for the month, unless you would you like to purchase some extra streaming credits.

This is a scenario that we were promised would never arise by the opponents of net neutrality, and yet it's one of the first things that happened when the US legislature failed to protect the concept. Immediately, a legal wrangle opened between Netflix and Comcast. The Internet service provider attempted to negotiate rates with the movie streaming service due to the high volume of traffic it was being asked to handle. 

Within a free market, Comcast's position makes sense. There is a demand, they are the supplier, and they should be able to price their service accordingly. And Netflix can't play the victim in this scenario; they are on the brink of becoming one of the largest media companies in the world, so surely they should contribute to the infrastructure that supports their business model. Right? Netflix decided to give into this notion, as they struck a deal in February that put an end to throttling of traffic generated by their site. 

The argument of ISPs (and the companies behind them that provide infrastructure) is that they need to invest in order to provide the best possible service to their customers, and that certain websites make this more difficult. Therefore, in a free market, they should be able to charge those larger sites, or manage traffic accordingly. 

But the Internet is more than Netflix, Facebook, Google and Amazon. The open web has operated on a free and equal access ever since Tim Berners-Lee developed HTML. It has fostered the open atmosphere that allowed bloggers and startups to thrive. The internet is a place where a good idea done well can take on the giants of any field. The end of net neutrality is not Goliath beating David; it is a sign outside saying "No Davids".

An image created by Reddit user Quink displays in stark detail how the Internet might look for users in the future. It may seem far-fetched but it is actually based on common advertisements for cable packages. This is a model that already exists and there is no reason that it cannot be applied to Internet services. 

Consider how this new Internet looks for you, if you run a business website or tech startup. Where do you fit in? Do users get free access to the service you provide? Or do they have to pay extra just for a pageload? What about personal sites and non-profits? Where there is competition, what happens when one company pays ISPs for preferential treatment?

The unknown elements of a post-neutral web are scary. Nobody can really predict how it will look. All we know for sure is that the level playing field of the early Internet will be gone, and this is as much a concern economically as it is politically. Business thrives on fair competition and a closed Internet is inherently unfair. 

It's not too late though. Just recently, the European Union have enshrined net neutrality into law. Lawmakers in the US may yet see the advantages of an open web and struggle to protect it. Not only does net neutrality strengthen constitutional ideals such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, but it's good for business and essential for innovation. Let's hope that our government make the right decision, and protect the free and open internet that we have come to cherish.