Conduit 2020 Rundown

Sree Kolli
4 min readJan 4, 2021

As our team at Conduit sat down to review key insights and critical trends from the past year, we honed in on three specific areas of focus: emerging markets, industry maps, and commerce & media. In our final installment of 2020, we dive into the nine most relevant essays from the range of reports that our team has published over the past 12 months.

Emerging Markets

South America

In our series detailing vertical-agnostic startup leaders in distinct regions, this report dives into the rapidly expanding tech ecosystem in South America focused specifically on three regions: Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, each carrying a unique consumer ecosystem and funding environments. As we analyzed each ecosystem, a handful of companies stood out: NuBank and QuintoAndar in Brazil, Rappi and Platzi in Colombia, and Uala and Ripio in Argentina.

Southeast Asia

In this essay, our team honed in on three countries: Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. While local investment has reached an alltime high, specifically in aggressive markets like real estate, fintech, and e-commerce, there has been a notable influx in foreign investment in the past year alone. As we analyzed each ecosystem, a handful of companies stood out: Grab and Lazada in Singapore, Tokopedia and Go-Jek in Indonesia, and Momo and Sendo in Vietnam.


In this report, we focused specifically on emerging startups in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. In the first quarter of 2020, African startups collectively raised over $350m. This figure has grown significantly since the reported $300m a year prior in Q1 2019. Broken down by region, South Africa led total funding with $112m, Nigeria with $74m, Kenya with $62m, and Egypt with $51m. As we analyzed each ecosystem, a handful of companies stood out: Jump and Drappa in South Africa, Flutterwave and Helium Health in Nigeria, and Cellulant and CarePay in Kenya.

Industry Maps

Future of Fintech

Over the past year, fintech liquidity has been validated across an endless series of high-profile acquisitions. Most recently PayPal acquired Honey for $4 billion and SoFi acquired Galileo for $1.2 billion. This M&A spree quickly yielded rapid investment across early-stage fintech categories, most dramatically across digital banking, corporate cards, and mobile wallets. In this report, our team at Conduit sat down to identify and evaluate the leaders across each of these distinct industry verticals. Among the leaders in each vertical, our team was overwhelmingly impressed by Point in digital banking, Ramp in corporate cards, and Paga in mobile wallets.

Low/No Code

The global low/no-code cloud-based tools market has scaled at an impressive clip over the past handful of years. Driven in equal parts by rapid user adoption and buzzy fanfare across social outlets, the industry has, in turn, received outsized venture investment. In this report, we focused on the three verticals that have actively been disrupted by the low/no-code wave: internal tools, web development, and visual design. Among the leaders in each vertical, our team was impressed by Retool in internal tools, Webflow in web dev, and Pitch in visual design.

Telehealth 101

A few years ago, prescription telemedicine made its mark on the future of digital healthcare. More specifically, a handful of venture-backed startups began to emerge in quick succession across Silicon Valley and NYC. In the wake of quarantine orders, prescription telemedicine entered a new dimension of consumer adoption. Utilization skyrockets and a number of the highlighted startups grew user bases quickly and raised additional funding. Our team was impressed by Roman in men’s health, Nurx in birth control, and Maven Clinic in fertility.

Commerce & Media

Infrastructure 101

Across the modern e-commerce industry, existing infrastructure fails to meet the needs of digital-first brands. As the entire retail industry shifts to e-commerce, there are a number of key bottlenecks to selling online at scale. As these bottlenecks become more apparent, a wave of high-growth software companies has sprung up across multiple niches. In this piece, we focused on hiring, logistics, and marketing. Across the broader e-commerce infrastructure stack, Airhouse in logistics, MarketerHire in hiring, and Yaguara in marketing stood out immediately.

Marketplace Map

In the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, thousands of brands quickly flooded the online advertising market, immediately driving up high ad costs on Instagram and social platforms. This trend has been apparent for the past handful of years, and in quick succession, eCom marketplaces have sprung to solve this customer acquisition issue, among other problems plaguing the traditional direct-to-consumer mold. In this report, we covered three types of marketplaces: apparel, health, and luxury solutions that have exploded in popularity over the past couple of years. Across the commerce marketplace landscape, Highsnobiety in apparel, Publics Goods in wellness, and Italic in luxury quickly stood out to our team.

Niche Media

Over the past decade, with a notable rise in M&A and funding activity in the past handful of years, a new wave of digital media companies specializing in editorial content, deep industry expertise, eCommerce, and advertising cropped up in almost every viable consumer niche.

In the last few years alone, digital media platforms like Vox, Gizmodo, and BuzzFeed launched eCommerce teams to various degrees of success. In this report, we honed in on three distinct breeds of niche digital media companies: editorial curation, product discovery, and linear commerce. Across the niche media ecosystem, The Athletic in editorial curation, Supergreat in product discovery, and Hodinkee in linear commerce stood out immediately.

At Conduit, we connect the world’s best operator-investors and founders building the next generation of startups around the world.

As we scale our platform, understanding key market shifts across verticals will become increasingly vital. Our team will be digging deeper into emerging trends and first movers in the coming weeks, which you can find here.