man vs machineI’ve been reading much lately about the growing battle between humans and machines in the labor force. The relentless wave of automation is reducing the need for human labor in so many facets of our experience. It used to be limited to the manufacturing industry as a means of forever scaling production capacity. Now the service economy – think dining and shopping – appears to be the front-line of automation, with online representing the robots and bricks-and-mortar representing the humans.

Today, we envision being able to click a button and, moments later, watch our order delivered by drone to our doorstep – with no human intervention between order and delivery.  Most of us directly correlate the shrinking workforce with the growth of automation, which begs the question, “what will be left for the humans to do?” We’re acutely aware that, without higher education (and the debt burden that goes with it), we risk being left out of the future workforce. We at RevTech Ventures are contributors to this age of automation, as our investments have primarily been in tech innovations that bring efficiencies (i.e. automation) to the world of shopping and dining. We plan to increase these efforts – after all, venture funding looks for massive disruption and rapid scale.

However, we couldn’t be more bullish on the exciting potential on the human side of the equation. Just as too much time spent on Facebook can make people lonely and hungry for live interaction, too much time shopping online0
may drive people toward more experiential shopping endeavors. New retail strategies are appearing that combine elements of product innovation, entertainment, education, philanthropy, and community – things we humans crave. Products are being custom-designed, sourced from the remotest ends of the globe, and marketed directly to consumers. Authenticity is key here, and consumers increasingly want high-quality products that include the story of their creation.

To that end, RevTech Ventures is creating a new series of events called the “Digital Retail Showcase.” Each month, we will have an event themed on a specific sector of new retail, and will select three companies to present and demonstrate their respective wares. Our first event, titled “Sourced Globally, Delivered Locally,” is being produced this week for a special group of RevTech Ventures ambassadors. Future themes will include “The Subscription Economy,” “The World of Wearables,” “Making the World Better through Shopping and Dining,” and many more.

Stay tuned…the humans are going to win this one. Robots can have all the mundane jobs. We just need to keep pace with exciting, fulfilling new opportunities for us humans!

David Matthews
Managing Director