Jan. 2021 - The Itinerant

Updated: Feb 2

A Monthly Newsletter from 2c9 Ventures

Your trusted source for actionable, multidisciplinary global insights into health & wellness; real estate, hospitality and travel; and transformative technologies.

Welcome, to this inaugural edition of The Itinerant. Congrats - you're in on the ground floor!

It’s always hard to know where to start – so let’s jump right in.

The Itinerant is a free monthly newsletter that helps you stay ahead of disruption by analyzing converging global trends related to three inter-related segments of our modern economy: Health & Wellness; Real Estate, Travel & Hospitality; and Transformative Technologies.

Each month, I will bring you thoughtfully curated articles from reputable, industry-leading sources - and my perspective - on each of the three focus areas. The discussion will be intentionally provocative - presenting insights and actionable opportunities from across the globe and exposing you to an endless diversity of new ideas to invest in, implement in your business, start as a new venture, or simply to provide you a few mentally enriching minutes of reading.

I’ve developed The Itinerant because I tried unsuccessfully to find something like it. It's for all you busy professionals, side-hustlers, part-time investors, and intellectually curious individuals looking for a break from the routine content served up by social media’s algorithms. Something unique, thoughtful, from trustworthy sources – and most importantly, actionable.

How does it work?

A Dynamic Newsletter with Active Reader Engagement

Vote on topics you want to see more of and specific opportunities you want to learn more about and / or consider investing in alongside other readers.


  • At the end of each section, you’ll see a link to ‘vote’

  • Clicking on the link will bring you to a survey that will take you no more than 2 minutes. It’s the same survey for the entire edition of the newsletter, so you can keep it open while you read.

  • If a topic or specific illustrative disruptor highlighted is particularly interesting and you’d like to learn more, let me know.

  • If enough readers indicate interest in a specific topic or opportunity, I'll do additional diligence on the space – including reaching out to the disruptors highlighted to see if they’re open for further discussion.

What do I mean by Illustrative Actionable Opportunities?

  • These are examples of specific innovative business models, possible investment opportunities or start-up ideas to consider. Something to make the concepts discussed in the earlier articles, a little bit more tangible.

  • They are not suggestions of specific current investment opportunities, although if there is enough interest in the specific business highlighted - as opposed to the investment thesis the business represents - I will reach out to the founder to explore a further conversation.

TL; DR [2 min.]

Global Health & Wellness Topic: Globalization of Healthcare

  • GrandView Research projects the medical tourism market to be worth over $207 billion by 2027, predicting a CAGR of 21.1%

  • The State of Utah is testing a hypothesis that for certain patients, it is cheaper to fly them to Mexico to obtain prescriptions, than to dispense them in the US.

  • Patient paid $5,000 by employer, in addition all travel expenses, to fly to Mexico to have a total knee replacement by a US trained doctor also flown in. The total cost saved the employer money.

Illustrative Actionable Opportunities

  • Medigo - B2B medical tourism platform supporting insurers

  • Quonomedical - Zocdoc for global healthcare

Global Real Estate, Hospitality & Travel Topic: Global Co-Living Spaces

  • Co-living spaces – ‘community as a service’ – though still an ‘emerging market’ are growing quickly in popularity. Institutional investors are beginning to take notice.

  • Co-living assets can capture more than 30% net rent premium compared to conventional multifamily apartments.

  • Its not only a trend in the US, co-living spaces are gaining in popularity throughout the world: from Hong Kong, to Tulum, Mexico.

Illustrative Actionable Opportunities

  • Outsite.co - WoWork of Global Co-Living

  • Ko'muna Tulum - Community-focused co-living space in Tulum, Mexico

Transformative Technologies Topic: Bidirectional Brain-Computer Interfaces

  • “It may sound like a plotline from the latest Hollywood blockbuster, [but] Gartner experts expect [Brain Computer Interfaces] to have a transformational impact on business in the next five to 10 years.”

  • By 2030, ~ 5% of employees in North America will use some form of bidirectional brain [computer] interface.

  • In China early non-invasive use cases are already being tested to monitor – and potentially alter – employees’ moods.

Illustrative Actionable Opportunities

  • NeuraLink - Elon Musk’s Brain Computer Interface venture

  • NextMind - DIY Brain-Computer Interface

Know someone who might find value in The Itinerant ?

Global Health & Wellness

The pandemic has thrust health and wellness to the forefront of everyone’s minds. For those of us not directly involved in healthcare day-to-day, we may not be aware of the extent of disruption that is occurring throughout the industry. It's more than just telemedicine.

This Month's Topic: Globalization of Healthcare

As we’re all anxiously awaiting the re-opening of borders and an anticipated surge in travel, let’s take a step back and look at how healthcare is globalizing, how COVID has further catalyzed it, and what it means for us.

Did you know? - PwC predicts that by 2021 the medical tourism market will reach $125 billion, the growth of which will be built on costlier, riskier procedures with longer recovery times (i.e., knee replacements and heart surgery, and not only nose jobs and dental implants). Similarly, GrandView Research projects the medical tourism market to be worth over $207 billion by 2027, predicting a CAGR of 21.1%.

NY Times – Patient Paid $5,000 by Employer to Have Knee Replacement Done in Mexico [5 min] The cost of care is so high in the US that some employers are paying their employees to receive care in another country…from an American doctor. In this case, the patient received $5,000 in addition to all travel expenses, and a total knee replacement free of cost-sharing, in exchange for having the procedure done in Mexico. The total cost to the employer was still less than half of what it would have been in the US., and the doctor was US-trained and flew from Milwaukee to Cancun.

The Guardian – Health Insurer Flying Members to Mexico to Purchase Lower-Cost Prescriptions [5 min] It’s still in the pilot stage (10 employees), but the State of Utah is testing a hypothesis that for certain patients, it's cheaper to fly them to Mexico to obtain prescriptions than to dispense them in the US. The program pays for participants’ flights, gives them a $500-per-trip bonus, has a specialty pharmacy representative accompany them across the border, and still cuts healthcare costs by tens of thousands of dollars per treatment.

Illustrative Actionable Opportunities

Medigo - Germany-based, medical tourism startup providing Third Party Administration (TPA) services for insurance companies on overseas treatments. Proprietary ‘mediclaim’ software, 1400+ providers ‘in network’ in over 50 countries; 200,000+ patients served to date from over 95 countries. Founding team has a background in vacation rental online marketing.

Quonomedical - VC-backed (i.e., 500 Startups), ‘Zocdoc for global healthcare’ serving 10,000+ patients/month with tech-platform offering public reviews of providers and procedures, and scheduling. Users can search, and schedule an appointment, from a panel of 1,000+ vetted doctors across 25 countries.

VOTE: http://doo.vote/5cbb4d7

Global Real Estate, Hospitality & Travel

With ultra-cheap debt, U.S. real estate markets have been on a tear for the last decade. It seems everyone is becoming a part-time real estate investor. Unfortunately, there is a lot of risk involved; and many self-proclaimed ‘gurus’ offering paid online training promising to make you a millionaire overnight. This is particularly true on international real estate opportunities where the risks are higher, and the transparency less. I’m also very bullish on the long-term potential for real estate as a wealth creation vehicle. But it is not a get-rich-quick scheme, nor is it for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of thoughtful consideration, experience, and patience.

Topic: Global Innovation in Multifamily Housing: Co-Living Spaces

Shortly after I purchased my first multifamily property I realized both how vital it is to the business to attract, select and retain the right tenants, but also how significant an impact on someone’s life you have the potential to make. That’s where the concept of active community building came in for me. It turns out that I'm not alone in that thinking. Co-living spaces and community-building are becoming quite the global trend.

Jones Lang Lasalle – Uncovering Co-living [2 min] In this brief Research piece, leading real estate investment house JLL goes deep on the increasing trend around co-living spaces, and how investors are beginning to take notice. Key take-aways:

  • They’re all-inclusive communal living, where tenants enter into individual lease agreements in exchange for private bedrooms, shared community spaces and building amenities.

  • It's very much an ‘emerging market’ >> such that of the total U.S. investment-grade co-living inventory, over 55% of it was delivered in one year: 2018.

  • Co-living assets can capture more than 30% net rent premium compared to conventional apartments

  • Global fundraising in co-living has increased by over 210% annually since 2015

DLA Piper – The Rise of Co-Living in Hong Kong [5 min]

  • Co-living spaces aren’t only popping up in Silicon Valley and New York City, they’re already spreading throughout the globe as renters everywhere wrestle with the same challenges of sky-high rents, increasing urbanization, and stagnating wages.

  • Beyond the value co-living spaces provide to renters, they present a compelling new real estate opportunity for developers, owners and operators.

  • The number of co-living spaces has increased 3x in the last two years, and yet we're likely just at the beginning of this disruptive trend.

Illustrative Actionable Opportunities

Outsite.co Founded in 2015, WeWork-type model curating a global collection of unique co-living and co-working locations catering to global entrepreneurs, business travelers and digital nomads looking for an alternative to lonely AirBnB rooms or hotels. Community events planned to foster meaningful, creative ‘networking’ opportunities. Backed by Tech Coast Angels, 500 Startups, and Montage Ventures.

Ko’muna Tulum Co-living / co-working community space in Tulum, Mexico. Applicants must apply and are vetted for ‘community fit’ and must commit to a minimum stay duration of 2 – 4 weeks, weekly meal tickets available for purchase. Renters have a private beachfront villa, in addition to access to shared community space. Wellness classes, transportation and other amenities are provided for an additional fee. Prices start at $2,800/month. High-speed internet, 24/7 air conditioning.

VOTE: http://doo.vote/5cbb4d7

Transformative Technologies

Whether contemplating your personal investment portfolio, exploring side-hustle ideas, or just looking for engaging content, deep tech makes our world go around and yet most of us seldom have the time to understand how it is evolving and what the implications are. It is understanding these fundamental technological developments that drive the step-change economic functions which result in massive market disruptions such as the computer, the internet, social media, or blockchain.

Imagine if you had the foresight to invest $1,000 in Microsoft in 1986 or Amazon in 1997? Where would you be now? I am not going to promise you’ll find and invest in the next Microsoft or Amazon through The Itinerant, but my goal is to keep you on top of the latest industry-transforming technologies and companies that will fundamentally alter markets in the coming decades.

Topic: Bidirectional Brain-Computer Interfaces

I have long been interested in the scientific and business potential of Brain-Computer Interfaces. The way we receive information from and input information into computers has hardly changed since the mouse was invented in the mid-1980s; and yet everything else about the computer has evolved exponentially.

We are likely still 5 – 10 years off from seeing this technology emerge in the mainstream with widespread commercial applications, so now is the time to invest in understanding its potential, tracking key players, and positioning ourselves to capitalize on the opportunity when the market timing is right.

5 Emerging Technologies Explained by Gartner Experts [5 min]

  • What are bidirectional brain [computer] interfaces? - The ability to turn the brain into an Internet of Things (IoT) device. “It may sound like a plotline from the latest Hollywood blockbuster, [but] Gartner experts expect [it] to have a transformational impact on business in the next five to 10 years.”

  • In China, for example, experimentation has started on monitoring whether coworkers started to become angry or agitated and so on. So it’s basically reading the mental state of the individual, as well as potentially changing it.

  • There are early products that are noninvasive. We think the next step will be more invasive variants, where people might choose to do this on their own for an advantage in sports or at work, or in school.

  • By 2030, Gartner anticipates ~ 5% of employees in North America will use some form of bidirectional brain-machine interface.

RAND - Can you connect your Brain to the Internet? – Yes. Almost. [5 min]

  • “Three drones lift-off, filling the air with their telltale buzz. They slowly sail upward as a fleet—evenly spaced and level—and then hover aloft. On the ground, the pilot isn't holding a remote control. In fact, he isn't holding anything. He's just sitting there calmly, controlling the drones with his mind.”

Illustrative Actionable Opportunities

NeuraLinkPerhaps the best-known startup in the Computer Brain Interface space, NeuraLink was founded and financed by celebrity-entrepreneur Elon Musk (co-founder at Paypal, founder of Tesla, SpaceX) in 2016. To date, Musk has invested over $100M into the company which is building devices to help people with paralysis navigate the world around them.

NextMindWant to build your own brain-computer interface device? Now you can. At a retail sales price of $399, with this device you can input commands into computers and AR/VR headsets with your visual attention. The team is working to next make it possible to imagine the action you want to take. Founded in 2017, this Paris-based company was founded by a former professor of cognitive neuroscience. NextMind recently debuted at CES 2020. To date they have raised ~$5M in a Seed round.

VOTE: http://doo.vote/5cbb4d7

About The Itinerant

The Itinerant is a free, actionable guide to global healthcare, real estate and transformative technologies. Each month, I’ll bring you a curated set of insights and actionable opportunities to your inbox to help you stay ahead of disruption and capitalize on trends before they become mainstream.