By Tomio Geron
Emmalyn Shaw is a managing partner at Flourish Ventures, which spun out from Omidyar Network. She focuses on financial inclusion and has invested in startups Bridgit, Chime, EarnUp, Kin and Propel. She was previously a partner at Omidyar and before that a venture partner at Oak Investment Partners, investing in companies such as Bleacher Report, Huffington Post and Demand Media.
What problem do you want to see a startup solve?
I’m excited by the number of companies providing digital financial management products for low- to medium-income consumers. However, we need to revolutionize arguably the most critical piece to achieving financial health: increasing income for people who need it most. I’m hungry for ideas that help LMI consumers fundamentally increase their income in addition to improving credit worthiness, saving for the long term and better managing their expenses.
What product or service are you totally, even irrationally, loyal to (non-portfolio company)?
Instacart. We had 10 people quarantined at home for the first seven months of the pandemic, including our six kids ages 10 to 27, and two sons’ girlfriends. It was a never-ending cooking and cleaning marathon. Instacart was a lifesaver that safely delivered necessities to our household. And it continues to keep me sane today!
What’s a secret obsession of yours that most people don’t know about?
My 11-week-old Bernadoodle, Rocky. There is something magical about a puppy during quarantine. You’d think with six children and two dogs already, no one in their right mind would take on a puppy. Rocky has tripled in size in just one month and is always happy to see me.
What’s one way you changed working in 2020 that you plan to keep going forward?
I take a walk in the middle of the day to clear my head. With no commute and no air travel, the Zoom hours commence early and continue nonstop through the end of a long day. I’ve forced myself to create a needed break or two to stretch my legs, process the inputs and give my body and brain time to reset. Some of my best ideas and plans arise during those short breaks.
What company or startup sector is the most underrated right now?
Innovative tech solutions for the gig worker. While this population is growing at a rapid clip around the world, the pandemic has hit them the hardest. Meanwhile, gig workers experience a diverse range of pain points that can be addressed with tech innovation such as income enhancement/tracking, taxes, retirement, health care, etc. While talented entrepreneurs have begun to tackle different facets of this problem, there is much work ahead.