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Erickson is a chemical engineer by training and can recall swatting mosquitoes in Texas while working for industry. At the outset, Erickson was determined to create some new product to launch in the market. Working in the energy sector could have made it possible, but the idea of a product took Erickson to the question of marketing and, eventually, the investment chief landed on technical sales. Here Erickson found there were many other innovators thinking about solving problems and monetising innovation.
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Perhaps it was this boom in innovators that led Erickson to switch sides and become an investor. The executive spent seven years at The Motley Fool, an investment advisory service for retail customers, before launching 7investing in March 2020. His role at Motley Fool, termed ‘Explorer’, involved travel and exploration. “My entire approach has always been to talk to people who are a lot smarter than I am.”
7investing’s team travels a fair bit. In the last four years, Erickson recalls attending a conference practically every month. Here, meeting with academics and other qualified executives, Erickson is able to pick up on the themes that will most affect the future. “I think that there's a huge opportunity for us as individuals to look… at truly some ground breaking things that are going on out there,” said Erickson.
“I think that there's a huge opportunity for us as individuals to look… at truly some ground breaking things that are going on out there”
Large companies like Apple [AAPL] and Microsoft [MSFT] continue to get bigger and better in their segments, but Erickson looks for less publicised opportunities. “We can find things that are not quite as publicised in the media, are quite not as scrutinised by institutional investors. That's what I look for in my investing. I look for pockets of innovation that I'm really excited about and for the companies that I think are going to capitalise on those trends.”
The autonomous car is one such trend. A personal experience of the WayMo, Google’s [GOOGL] sister concern, gives Erickson hope that fruition in this field may be around the corner, but also that its implementation will take place in waves. When Erickson rode in the self-driving car, it came with a human driver at the steering wheel, ready to take over in case the car faltered. The investment guru recalls being afraid for the first 10 seconds and then settling into a comfort zone when the car automatically paused to allow a pedestrian to cross the road using its peripheral vision. That said, the self-driving car is not ready yet.
Despite being close, there are a lot of things that still need to be addressed to take car functioning from 95% to 100%, said Erickson, adding that the last 5% is largely safety, making it crucial. “In terms of a fully autonomous vehicle that you know, is picking you up from the airport and dropping you off at home and there's no human driver there at all. I still think that it's a work in progress that's making a lot of progress, but we're not there yet.”
“In terms of a fully autonomous vehicle that you know, is picking you up from the airport and dropping you off at home and there's no human driver there at all. I still think that it's a work in progress that's making a lot of progress, but we're not there yet”
Another investment theme Erickson is excited about is machine learning and artificial intelligence and its evolving use to make inferences and decisions. Erickson cites a store that uses an automated system to book hair dressing appointments. Stocks in the sector appear to have had their bull run, but investors should remain unfazed, Erickson said, adding that Nvidia had risen more than 20,000% since its IPO but still has plenty of room to rise still.
The next major investment theme for Erickson would be pharmacogenomics – identifying healthcare based on genetic structure. The space is booming and opportunities abound.
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