Enough is enough.
I was on Twitter this morning when I was officially pushed over the edge. Here’s the tweet that did it:
— VentureBeat (@VentureBeat) April 8, 2016
“Now, what’s wrong luxury villas?” You might be asking. And on the surface, the answer is nothing. Perhaps some day, I’ll even have the opportunity to rent one. What is wrong is the fact that this company got $1 million in VC funding – $1 million FLORIDA* dollars – to make it easier to book luxury villas. Is that actually a problem people have? Are you seriously telling me that there are people sitting around going, “You know, it’s so hard to book a good villa these days”? Let me tell you something: That is not an actual problem.
Not that long ago, the NY Times did a story on how a lot of money in the tech startup scene is being thrown around so that the 1% can live like the .1%, but this blows that out of the water.
And yes, I am angry about this in part because we haven’t gotten VC funding yet. In our meetings with VC folks, we’ve got a lot of “Oh, if you only had 100,000 users or 1 million users or every person on the planet already using your games.” “Oh, if you only had $100,000 or $1 million or $1 trillion in monthly revenue.” The reality is when we have the numbers that the VCs throw out as “Oh, if only…” I won’t need their money because we’ll have a self-sustaining company – and I’ll be lamenting that there isn’t a better online option for luxury villa rentals.
For long enough, I have accepted that educational technology is a different “space.” That it’s not sexy in the scheme of investing. That it is less likely to produce the billion-dollar unicorns of some other sectors (never mind, that unicorns are imaginary and don’t even exist). That investors want faster returns and that ed tech is a longer game. I was willing to roll with this – I didn’t particularly like it, but whatever. And we rolled with it pretty well – to the tune of bringing in over $1 million in non-VC funding ourselves.
But this is where I put my foot down. Because you know what? This is the most blatant example of how much of a FLORIDA joke venture capital is. You know why? Rich people – as in people rich enough to be booking luxury villas – don’t even book their own travel. You think rich people are on freaking websites debating which villa to get? Because they aren’t. No, rich people pay travel agents that pull together their luxury vacations, so I’m not even sure who benefits from this highly investible venture. The best I can guess is travel agents serving rich people? Seriously, for all the talk I have heard from VCs about market size and scalability, I’m trying to understand how that is not a niche market.
You see, the very first time that I met with a VC (who is actually very well known), he said that our games were “too niche” and education isn’t really something traditional VCs are interested in investing in. Now, as part of our accelerator experience, we did the whole market analysis breakdown – and without getting into the minutiae – I’m going to go out there and say, no matter how you slice it, there is no FLORIDA way that the luxury travel agent market is bigger than the 50% of the K12 English and Spanish-speaking global markets that our products can serve (or even just the U.S. portion of that market).
And if you can come back to me with a reason for why villa rentals is a much stronger and better market to invest in than education, then you should seriously take a long look in the mirror and ask, “How the FLORIDA did we, as a society, get to place where that is something that you can even dignify arguing?”
This is not a dig at Edge Retreats. Props to them for raising $1 million in VC funds. That’s work, no matter who you are. But this is a dig at the entire VC system that has the luxury of being so bad at their jobs that they only need to be successful one out of every 10 times and the ability to be so out of touch with reality that they think luxury villa rentals is actually a better investment than education.
That said, we’re still taking on investors, so if you’re an investor and you think that investing in education is more worthwhile than investing in luxury villas – or if you want to invest in education as well as luxury villas – let’s talk.
*Because I am anti-swearing on our company blog, I have replaced swearing with FLORIDA – because well, “Florida.”