A Fox Robotics autonomous forklift
As reported by Zebra's blog team | July 2, 2024

Investing in Logistics: Identifying Disruption to Stay Ahead of the Pack

Two venture capitalists from Zebra Ventures share the out-of-the-box thinking that helped them become more strategic (and successful) investors across the supply chain.

Tony Palcheck has been identifying consumer and commercial business trends and investing in technologies that either drive or benefit from those trends for over 20 years. He remembers the days when GPS and Wi-Fi were ideas on a PowerPoint slide – and watching them become mainstream technologies across industries that help improve our everyday lives. And he’s proud to have been at the forefront of many smart, innovative technology ideas ever since as a corporate venture capitalist. 

That’s because Tony and his colleague, Justin Merle, have become attuned to identifying patterns that represent fundamental lasting changes across retail and healthcare and the supply chains that support these critical sectors. In turn, they’ve been able to repeatedly recommend smart investment opportunities for Zebra through Zebra Ventures, the company’s venture capital (VC) arm, that can help drive improvements in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, warehousing, retail, healthcare and front-line operations.

However, as they explain in a new Out of the Box podcast interview with host Margherita Carrozzo, corporate venture capitalism isn’t just about making money off the companies in your portfolio right now. They see it as a way to bring innovation into a corporation and create growth options as customers need to live or – in the case of Zebra’s customers – work in new ways. 

In fact, a large part of Tony and Justin’s job is to find startups that can help Zebra Ventures’ parent company, Zebra Technologies, expand its ability to solve customers’ business problems and support customers’ growth ambitions. That means Tony and Justin must anticipate what Fortune 500 companies are going to need (technologically speaking) to maintain – and, ideally, improve – their operational performance in the coming years, particularly from a logistics perspective. Many technology providers claim their hardware, software, and systems can help companies digitize and automate their workflows, so it’s important to find those that will be able to continuously accommodate customers’ changing needs. Technology can become obsolete quickly.

That’s why, when Tony and Justin are monitoring the market to see where they should target their investments, they aren’t just looking for companies at the center of a current hype cycle. They’re looking for companies that could be at the center of future hype cycles. 

But how do these two investors know when demand is going to shift – or which way it’s going to shift? How did they sense it was time to start investing more heavily in “the three A’s:” automation, AI, and analytics? And how can they know if they are still hedging their bets on the right automation, AI, and analytics-focused companies as technology continues to rapidly mature, new startups emerge, and customer needs further evolve?

Tune in now to understand the benefits of corporate VC and learn about the strategies Tony and Justin use to anticipate the needs of future-state supply chains and make smart investments today to the benefit of Zebra and its customers:

Out of the Box Podcast Episode #6 | Corporate Venture Capital in Warehousing

If you aren’t familiar with Zebra Ventures, you may want to read through this Q&A with Tony first:

Ask the Expert: Why Is Zebra Technologies Providing Venture Capital to Startups?

Then check out this proof that Tony and Justin know what they’re doing. (Fox Robotics is a Zebra Ventures portfolio company).

Podcast, Podcast, Transportation and Logistics, Warehouse and Distribution, Manufacturing, Automation, AI, Retail, Interview, Article,

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