HONK. The startup disrupting AAA

HONK. The startup disrupting AAA

  Corey Brundage is dressed in his uniform of dark jeans, purple HONK t-shirt and grey HONK hoodie, sipping coffee from a “Baltimore Towing Company” mug. We’re sitting on the couch in the lobby of his company’s new Los Angeles office — home to a team of 50 with enough space to handle their expected doubling in headcount over the year ahead. Founded only eighteen months ago, HONK is one of the fastest growing technology companies in LA and already competing head-to-head with the dominant player in its industry: the American Automotive Association, better known as AAA. HONK’s mobile app provides on-demand towing and roadside assistance services at the press of a button: open the app, tap the type of issue (accident, dead battery, out of gas, etc.), and a tow truck is dispatched in minutes for a fraction of the typical cost. Most of us don’t think much about towing services, we just pony up for the annual AAA membership alongside our car insurance because it seems like that’s what everyone does, and we hope we never need to use it. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has built a near-monopoly over the roadside assistance market in the US, collecting lucrative membership fees that mostly go unused by the members. Still touting a call center, manual dispatching of trucks, and physical storefronts (with paper maps and human travel/insurance agents), it has barely changed in decades. By contrast, HONK is rebuilding the roadside assistance experience from the ground up for a new generation of consumers who are used to their smartphones instantly matching them with anything they need. Most of HONK’s...
Fitmob and ClassPass Team Up to Revolutionize Fitness

Fitmob and ClassPass Team Up to Revolutionize Fitness

  When Raj Kapoor – already a successful tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist – founded Fitmob in 2013, he wanted to free people from the restrictions and boredom of traditional gym memberships. Why should we accept being locked into one gym for a year at a time, with enrollment fees and a limited schedule of classes? The Fitmob team created a marketplace where anyone could find classes that matched their interests and schedule, hosted by a wide range of fitness instructors around their city. As it grew, it evolved to offer unlimited monthly access to classes within a network of independent gyms and studios so that people can work out wherever they want and try all sorts of new fitness trends. Yoga on Monday, Crossfit on Tuesday, aerial fitness (yes, it’s a thing) on Wednesday? No problem. In April, Fitmob joined forces with competitor ClassPass to take on the fitness market together. The united team is rapidly expanding to new cities and strengthening the existing network of fitness partners. For $99 per month, members get to participate in unlimited classes, including up to three at the same studio. It’s caught on like wildfire among many in the active lifestyle community and is a win for gym and studio owners who can tap into a large new stream customers. Fitmob was one of Arena’s first investments, so last week I caught up with Raj post-merger to get his perspective from the founder’s seat: EP: What do you see as wrong with fitness that Fitmob and ClassPass are making right? RK: On the consumer side, two-thirds of the world’s population is obese or inactive...
Welcome to In The Arena

Welcome to In The Arena

Welcome to In The Arena, a blog/magazine by Arena Ventures. Our goal with In The Arena is to publish insightful advice, stories, and interviews about the world of startup investing. We hope this will be much more than just a company’s blog – we want it to be an engaging publication and educational resource for the wide range of startup investors around the world and for entrepreneurs seeking a deeper understanding of how investors think. There are many quality media outlets and blogs online to guide new entrepreneurs and tell their stories, but comparatively few resources for new investors. Given Arena’s goal to activate 10,000 new angel investors through our hybrid model of venture capital and crowdfunding, we decided to step in and start filling that gap. Early stage investing operates in an entirely separate sphere from other fields of finance: it’s not about Excel docs and financial models, it’s first-and-foremost about understanding people, then secondly about creativity. It’s a culture where the smartest minds work in t-shirts and old sneakers experimenting with new product ideas, not sitting in corner offices wearing Armani suits. Investing in startups, either as an angel or a venture capitalist, is an exhilarating adventure that rewards creativity, contrarian thinking, and entrepreneurial hustle. We’re fortunate to be investing during a pivot point in man’s relationship with technology: the pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate faster than ever before. A future with driverless cars, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction, but reality. The industry of venture capital and angel investing has historically been shrouded in the mystery of backroom deals and...