As I eagerly await the time when my daughters will be able to return to the classroom, I cannot help thinking about that great ‘80s flick, Back to School. The crescendo of the movie involves Rodney Dangerfield’s character pulling off the “impossible” Triple Lindy dive…but really, the whole film is a metaphor for diving back in to make up for lost time, as the protagonist faces a triple return—to his education, his parenthood, and his romantic life—in the face of fear and past scars.
Much in the same way, investors looking for value are starting to look beyond the crowded and arguably overpriced trade of “pandemic-friendly” industries like remote fitness, cybersecurity, eCommerce, and PPE, diving back into areas well-suited to thrive when we get back to life outside of our homes. Here are what we see as the post-COVID Triple Lindy—travel, education, and restaurants.
No. 1—GET ME OUT OF HERE
People are clamoring to travel again, and we have seen a few notable capital raises in the space recently, including:
- CLEAR—The biometric identify platform that lets people get through airport security more quickly just raised $100 million to expand into other hospitality verticals.
- Getaround—The peer-to-peer car sharing service closed a $140 million Series E from SoftBank, Menlo, and others, topped off with $25 million in venture debt.
- Blade Urban Air Mobility—The helicopter taxi company announced a $1 billion SPAC deal.
That’s a lot of money banking on folks moving around the country again.
No. 2—GET MY KIDS OUT OF HERE
Depending on where you live and whether your kids are in public or private school, they are doing anything from 100% remote to 100% in-school or a multitude of hybrid options in between. A year ago, we closed a transaction for ALC Schools, our longtime client providing special needs transportation management services to school districts across the country. Needless to say, a return to in-person schooling nationwide coupled with continued social distancing will likely be a boon to ALC’s asset-light model. We’re seeing some good action in in-person education related investing:
- Trafera (formerly known as Trinity3) —The educational technology marketplace for hardware and services announced a $48.5 million raise in November to continue its expansion. This is both a play on remote schooling and back-to-school, as both paradigms require the latest and greatest technology for students and teachers.
- TimelyMD—The university-focused telehealth provider just raised $60 million in growth equity from JMI on the premise that, even when kids are back on campus, the way they receive healthcare is going to be forever transformed.
- HES Facilities—The provider of outsourced janitorial, groundskeeping, and building management services to universities and schools raised $60 million in debt to make two acquisitions.
I think we can all agree that while Zoom school was a cute temporary fix, it’s time to get them back for real!
No. 3—FEED ME
The pandemic has brought challenging times to the restaurant industry, with a significant percentage of U.S. restaurants closed for good. While a lot of investor attention has been on the ghost kitchen concepts and general online ordering platforms that have helped many restaurants stay afloat, money is starting to come back into good old fashion location-based concepts.
- Checkers Drive-In Restaurants—The operators of approximately 1,000 quick service restaurants across the South and Midwest recently completed a financing to fuel continued expansion.
- Torchy’s Tacos—The Austin, Texas-based, quickly growing fast-casual brand just raised $400 million of equity from a group of serious investors to expand into new geographies.
Whether you’re into Zoom or Teams, Moderna or Pfizer, DoorDash or Postmates, I think we can all agree that it’s time to pull off the Triple Lindy of travel, education, and restaurants and get back to the good life that we may have taken for granted.