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Blog

Our Investment in Clarity Money

Cooper Zelnick

RRE Ventures is excited to announce our Series B investment in Clarity Money, the next-generation personal financial manager focused on empowering consumers with an intelligent financial advocate.

The recent proliferation of apps targeted at improving users’ financial health is no secret: over the past few years dozens of companies have sought to tackle the problem of enabling users to save more, spend less, invest more, invest more intelligently, begin to budget, budget better, the list goes on. However, this market is crowded with solutions targeted at the small subset of individuals willing and able to mine their financial data, create budgets, and then take direct action to improve their financial situations.

Clarity Money is an app designed for everyone else. Adam Dell and the Clarity Money team believe that there is a much bigger (if less visible) market of people who have trouble taking proactive steps to improve their financial health because of the confusing and overwhelming landscape of financial products and the institutions which offer them. Clarity’s product delivers on the promise of simplifying financial choices and acting on behalf of consumers to boost their financial wellness and health. For the lucky few who have the time and ability to fully optimize their financial lives, tools are plentiful. For the rest of us, there’s Clarity Money.

“Clarity Money is exactly the type of deal I like to do,” says RRE Managing Partner Stuart Ellman, who has joined Clarity’s board. “Adam Dell is an experienced entrepreneur who I’ve known for twenty years and funded before. He’s assembled an experienced team to tackle a meaningful problem in a massive space.”

Clarity Money offers users the ability to link their various accounts and get a comprehensive yet simple picture of their overall financial health. The app also enables users to budget more effectively, set up automatic savings, and cancel subscriptions or other recurring payments. But more importantly, Clarity acts as a trusted financial advisor and advocate, intelligently saving consumers money by renegotiating bills on users’ behalfs and referring users to financial products which are more affordable and better suited to their needs.

In so doing, the Clarity Money team is democratizing financial wellness, bringing the thoughtful, personalized, financial management solutions currently available to high-net-worth individuals to everyone. We could not be more excited to partner with a proven entrepreneur focused on building a sustainable business by improving the financial lives of all individuals.

Our Investment in Workit Health

Cooper Zelnick

RRE Ventures is excited to announce our seed investment in Workit Health, an affordable, effective, and on-demand addiction treatment program for the millions of Americans struggling with substance use. Originally offered exclusively through employers, Workit’s treatment program is now available directly to consumers, delivering a crucial service to individuals: freedom from addiction.

Addiction is an enormous problem in the United States, affecting over 20 million Americans, with an additional 60 million engaged in risky patterns of use with alcohol and/or drugs. Of those, only 10% receive adequate treatment, often because existing treatment options are too expensive, too disruptive to be practical, or do not align with their health goals. What’s worse is that access to treatment is often not enough: relapse rates associated with traditional addiction treatment programs exceed 50%.

While new, evidence-based treatment modalities and technological innovations have improved our understanding of addiction, that understanding has yet to be implemented in the form of accessible, affordable, evidence-based care for high-need individuals. With most diseases, clinicians seek to identify, isolate, and then treat conditions as early as possible, reducing costs and boosting outcomes. But when it comes to addiction, we wait until patients have “crashed,” and only then begin to treat the underlying conditions. The costs are staggering, in this case about $35 billion annually, and all too often the outcomes for individuals and their loved ones are catastrophic.

Workit Health is solving this problem by delivering care which is affordable, evidence-based, judgment-free, and accessible to all individuals on their own terms. Moreover, their program is sustainable: individuals receive ongoing care beyond the initial ninety-day program. And if this methodology for treating addiction seems obvious, the implications of the program cannot be overstated.

Workit’s program contains 6 core modules: my mission, body, mind, heart, spirit, and tribe. Users who have finished the core program continue to Onward, which provides continued support in the form of engaging curriculum and aftercare.

Workit’s program contains 6 core modules: my mission, body, mind, heart, spirit, and tribe. Users who have finished the core program continue to Onward, which provides continued support in the form of engaging curriculum and aftercare.

The promise of Workit Health for consumers is exceedingly powerful. Finally, seeking treatment for addiction or risky behaviors is not at odds with continuing to work, to live, and to remain in one’s community. Workit’s program delivers a value proposition for employers which far exceeds the mere reduction of staff turnover, absenteeism, and workplace accidents as well. The true promise of Workit is the promise of compassionate, visionary, and highly effective treatment for everyone regardless of circumstance, geographic location, or ability to pay.

We’re honored to join Lisa, Robin, and the rest of the Workit Health team as they realize their vision and revolutionize the way addiction is understood, perceived, and treated across the United States.

Our Investment in Pebble Post

Jason Black

Today we are excited to announce our lead investment in PebblePost’s $15M Series B.

Over the last decade, advertising and marketing technology has gone through a massive transformation. Digital retargeting, social media channels, personalization, and - most recently - programmatic, have quickly become vital to the success of the modern CMO. To date though, one marketing channel has been left behind: direct mail.

Understandably so. Bits and bytes are the low hanging fruit. Our own portfolio reflects some of the players in that first wave of revolution. Sailthru leverages this flexibility to build email software that individually personalized email based on hundreds of data points. Beeswax enables companies to programmatically buy ads across the web based on a company’s proprietary data sets at scale, and tweak and tune that optimization in real time.

But as digital channels start to saturate, marketers are looking for new, differentiated, and highly engaging ways to reconnect with their existing customers, and intelligently reach out to new ones. Despite the disadvantages of printing and delivering a piece of snail mail, direct mail is a massive industry (~$50B/yr) for one simple reason — it works. It works despite the fact that the most sophisticated providers rely solely on demographic and geo-targeting data. The tools and capabilities, however, have kept modern marketing professionals from wading into its opaque, slow moving industry.

Enter PebblePost. To call PebblePost a direct mail company is like calling Amazon a bookstore. By marrying the best of traditional direct mail with the best of digital advertising, the company empowers marketers to transform real-time interest and intent data into high quality, personalized, postcards and catalogs. This enables PebblePost to re-engage existing customers and, critically, target website prospects who have yet to convert. Because it begins online, the PebblePost platform can match a return visit and provide real-time analytics on response, conversion and ROAS, allowing digital marketers to optimize their campaigns just as they would on other programmatic platforms. The advantages can’t be overstated.

The results don’t disappoint. Taken together, the PebblePost platform has enabled clients to perform 10x better than traditional direct mail campaigns and a full 100x digital retargeting campaigns.

As venture investors, we invest in companies that use data and technology as a leverage point to create new business opportunities and build in step-function increases in performance and usability. PebblePost does both in a big way.

We couldn’t be more excited to be a partner along their journey in transforming what direct mail can do for brands around the globe.

Our Investment in Knock: Home Selling Finally Enters The Age Of The Internet

Raju Rishi

RRE Ventures is excited to announce our Series A investment in Knock, the modern way to sell your home. Knock — co-founded by former Trulia founding team members Sean Black and Jamie Glenn, along with co-founder and Chief Architect Karan Sakhuja — utilizes historical market and transaction data, machine learning, and intelligent pricing algorithms to predict home prices with unparalleled accuracy and to alleviate the pain of selling (and buying) a home. By guaranteeing individuals the ability to sell their home within 6 weeks, Knock reduces the hassle, uncertainty, and inefficiency of selling a home. And by offering to buy homes outright from homeowners, Knock solves a key pain point for the 47% of US homebuyers who must sell their existing home in order to afford a new one.

The proliferation of tech-enabled marketplaces represents disruption at its best. In aggregating a near limitless number of potential buyers and sellers, these marketplaces have the potential to increase price transparency and drive transactional efficiency. This not only creates value for businesses, but drives significant value to consumers, saving people money and time. And nowhere are these savings more important than in the residential real estate market, given that buying a home is often the most significant financial decision an individual will make.

Over the past several years, the promise of fully efficient marketplaces has been realized even in historically slow-moving industries like commercial real estate. Today, startups like 42Floors and The Square Foot (an RRE portfolio company) are bringing commercial listings online, while Hightower (another RRE portfolio company, which recently merged with VTS) is driving efficiency by arming brokers with intelligent tools for managing leasing workflows.

Yet despite this proliferation of new marketplace businesses, one space has been left behind. Until now, there has been no true tech-enabled marketplace for selling residential real estate. We believe that this market is finally ripe for disruption, and there exists no better team to execute against Knock’s vision.

By bringing listings online in a searchable way, companies like Zillow create transparency in the residential real estate market, enabling consumers to search directly for properties. However, the actual transaction process remains time consuming, inefficient, and expensive for sellers and buyers alike. While Zillow renders properties searchable, potential buyers and sellers are still forced to contact a broker, hire a series of professionals to assist with the closing process, and wait months to complete a transaction. And the stakes are high; if a sale falls through, a family may no longer be able to afford the new house they were planning to buy.

Knock solves this problem in an elegant and thoughtful way. The immediate resonance of Knock’s value proposition with consumers serves as further evidence that despite the prevalence of online real estate listings, actually buying and selling a home remains a legacy experience. Fundamentally, Knock is a transaction-oriented marketplace for real estate. Two of Knock’s co-founders having deep domain expertise as founding team members of Trulia made Knock an especially compelling investment for us. Moreover, the rest of the Knock team are uniquely positioned to solve this problem. The promise of Knock is that a homeowner can sell his or her house within six weeks, or that Knock will buy it directly. This is the promise of the truly efficient marketplace. We couldn’t be more excited to work with Sean, Jamie and the rest of the team at Knock.

(Thank you to my RRE colleague Cooper Zelnick for helping with this post)

BUILDING BRIDGES, AND THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Raju Rishi

RRE Ventures is excited to announce our Series B investment in Redox, the modern API for healthcare. Redox is building a highly scalable network which integrates healthcare applications and health systems. Today, Redox is the leading healthcare integration platform with the largest ecosystem of enterprise applications. And tomorrow, Redox will become a powerful force for the achievement of better data, better patient care, and better outcomes across our nation’s entire healthcare system.

"The thesis which led to our investment in Redox is simple," said Raju Rishi and Cooper Zelnick, who have joined Redox's board. "The proliferation of consumer healthcare devices, the explosion of healthcare applications, and the trend towards data-driven healthcare creates an enormous opportunity for patients, providers, and payers alike." However, the complexity of legacy electronic health records and other healthcare technologies has made it increasingly difficult for healthcare system CIOs to keep up with the demands of both doctors and patients for application integrations. As a result, healthcare feels like an industry left behind by the data revolution. We believe that the true promise of value-based care and dramatically improved outcomes will not be realized until new technologies can rapidly penetrate existing healthcare systems.

After meeting Luke, Niko, and James, Redox’s three co-founders, we knew we had found the team to solve this problem. And since launching in 2014, they’ve done just that. Their extensive backgrounds in healthcare interoperability (all three worked for Epic Systems in Madison Wisconsin) makes them uniquely positioned to understand and solve this key problem in healthcare. Our partnership with Redox represents not only an investment in a painful problem within a massive space, but also an investment in an unparalleled team of passionate domain experts.

Redox is the first and only company developing a networked approach to healthcare interoperability. After evaluating the landscape of interoperability solution providers, we came to believe that businesses enabling one-off, point-to-point healthcare connections fall short of achieving the ultimate goal of data liquidity in healthcare. Redox, with its scalable, reusable infrastructure and standardized data models, has created a unique, elegant, and exceedingly valuable solution to this problem.

Coupled with the Redox team’s deep technical expertise, the company’s location in Madison, Wisconsin gives Redox several key competitive advantages beyond unparalleled access to craft beer and cheese curds. Luke, Niko, James, and the rest of the Redox team are recognized as thought leaders within Madison’s health tech ecosystem, enabling the company to recruit talent, operate efficiently, and secure key partnerships in a large and growing market. We look forward to working closely with the Redox team as they help payors, providers, and patients work together to realize the promise of better, cheaper, smarter healthcare for everyone.

 

Becoming more human through mass automation

Steven Schlafman

Earlier this week. Amazon announced their latest innovation, Go. Think of Go as a futuristic grocery store. Using sensors, artificial intelligence and computer vision, Amazon is reinventing the shopping experience that we’ve all grown accustomed to for the last seventy years. That’s right. No more check out lines, registers or cashiers. If you want to buy an item, just grab it from the shelf, and then Amazon will automatically add the item to your virtual shopping cart. When you walk out of the store, Amazon will magically charge you for that item. Amazing, right? Yup. It’s also potentially scary when you think of the implications that this, and other forms automation, could have on our society.

Many industries are facing unprecedented changes largely driven by increasing wages and advancements robotics / artificial intelligence. This trend isn’t just limited to retail in the Amazon example but also transportation, food service, manufacturing, and administrative to throw out some examples. The number of jobs on the line is potentially massive. There are 3.4M cashiers nationwide according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are 3.5M professional truck drivers in the U.S. according to the American Trucking Association. There are 4.7M food service workers in the U.S. (BLS). These are just a few examples. I don’t even need dig up all the numbers to conclude tens of millions of American jobs are at risk due to rising labor costs and automation.

All that said, I’m not here to paint a doomsday picture like many before me have. Hundreds if not thousands of articles have been written about our robot overloads and how we’ll eventually become slaves to them. I’m also not here to look at what we stand to lose. Instead, I’m here to look at what we all stand to gain in a world of mass automation. I believe if managed properly this massive shift could unlock enormous long term opportunities for our society and increase our overall quality of life. While there’s no doubt some pain will be felt in the short to mid-term, humanity has faced several major technological upheavals over the last thousand years and we’ve walked away every time with higher productivity, more time to focus on new activities and a higher quality of life. The mass automation era will be no different.

But first, how do we get there? Implicit within the concept of mass automation is the reality of significant structural unemployment. People will lose jobs, and those people will need to find new ways to support themselves and to support their families. This means several things, not all of which are bad. First, there’s a huge opportunity that exists around education and retraining. Retraining programs — if executed effectively — will yield not only a growth in talent available for existing American industries, but also an enormous increase in human capacity to tackle new or unsolved problems. As mass automation sets people free from menial work, socially, economically, technologically, and globally meaningful issues will become practically relevant in way they’ve never been before.

Of course, government and private retraining programs will hardly be enough to convert the millions of displaced laborers into newly productive workers in emerging industries, but they are a good start. Business, governments, and non-profits alike are already thinking about how to solve this issue. They’ll continue to do so. And I expect they’ll be successful. But for now, let’s move on. Assuming a large portion of the population no longer needs — or is able to — work in “traditional” industries, what will they do?

That brings us to the most interesting ramification of mass automation. How will we fill our time? Maybe some portion of the population will sit on the couch, drink beer, and watch reruns of Seinfeld ad infinitum. But I have more faith in us than that. I believe that we will begin, evermore rapidly, to solve the problems which have long perplexed humanity. More minds will be put to work against the problems of climate change, for example. Hopefully we’ll be able to invent and implement new responses to large societal issues like poverty, crime, sickness, pollution, the list goes on. But the true promise of increased human capacity goes beyond any one problem. By freeing our time and resources and redirecting them towards our largest problems, we’ll be able to focus on helping one another. Building and rebuilding communities. Engaging with each other emotional and spiritually. Being of service to our fellows. Ironically enough, I believe that mass automation will give us the capacity to be more human.

On top of all that, we get to reimagine the concept of work. What if we didn’t get up each day — 5 days a week — and sit in an office from 9 to 5. What if we engaged with the projects, the people, and the pursuits about which we’re most passionate? What if we did that always? And what if we were compensated not for our hours, but for our impact? What if everyone was guaranteed a universal basic income so that they could focus on these things? Making this shift will be difficult for many of us, but with strong, affordable retraining programs, millions of Americans will be granted opportunities that most of us can’t imagine today.

In the world of mass automation we will have more time than ever before. I don’t believe that this time will be wasted. I believe it will be invested. In self-expression. In art. In education. In service to one another. I believe that our newfound freedom will lead not to the destruction of our society, but to its elevation. So when I hear about a fully automated supermarket, I think not about our robot overlords, but about our potential as humans, and about achieving that potential.

(Thanks you to my trusted RRE colleague Cooper Zelnick for editing this post)