Startup raises £100,000 from an AI-powered VC in seconds, live on-stage!

Originally published on Medium
7th AI Startup Battle at PAPIs ’17 (Boston, Oct. 2017)

Boston, October 2017… I thought I heard a mosquito fly. The room was packed, but everyone yet remained silent. All were focusing their attention on a little device on-stage. A small black vertical cylinder was stealing the show, before it even started. “Is it … an Amazon Alexa?” said someone, and curiosity was quick to fill the whole room. Everyone had a theory about why a voice-assistant was being prepped like an athlete ready to enter the field. Excited but yet a bit more worried were the people in the front row, startup founders. They knew what was about to happen. An AI was about to judge their startups live on-stage, and in the end, choose a winner. The tension was palpable, “you can read a crowd of ‘human’ investors, but how do you approach an AI”?

Suddenly, a deep voice arose from the stage: “Alexa, ask PreSeries to start the Battle”. A mere second later after the host’s command, the little black cylinder was awake and hungry for startups to judge. “I am ready to score the first startup” it said calmly.

Startup founders then took turns, 1–2 minutes each on stage, to answer questions from the PreSeries AI. The questions revolved around team composition, founders’ background, proprietary technology or industry characteristics.

PreSeries in action!

“Ok, that’s everything I needed to know” said PreSeries. It only took 8 minutes to collect and evaluate the necessary information to determine, among 5 contenders, which one is most likely to succeed. “Ask PreSeries who is the winner?” commanded the host. “The winner is GreenSight Agronomics” replied the AI. One of the attendants, a local VC, said “the funny thing is that, the winner was my favourite!”

The next AI Startup Battle will be at PAPIs Europe (April 5 — London)

Impressed by an AI thinking like a VC? Now remember about the last time that you missed on a deal because your process was too slow… Maybe you took a lot of time to learn about that company… Or maybe your decision making process was too long because you needed to gather more data … The problem here is our own limitations as investors. Spotting the signals that are good predictors of success for startups is not easy. Because we’re dealing with such uncertainty, the amount of data needed to decently derive startups insights and uncover actionable trends is considerable. Fortunately for us, machine learning (ML) provides the answer.

We are witnessing the adoption of ML across the entire venture capital industry at an ever-accelerating pace. Some VC firms started a while ago to use machine learning, but most of them are just taking their first steps. From data collection, processing, to predictive insights … the preachers of disruptions are the ones being slowing disrupted (Google, Hone Capital, Fly.vc, InReach Ventures, Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, etc.)

If you invest in startups for a living and feel that you are not doing any of this …

We created PreSeries with the vision of a faster, more efficient and transparent process to allocate resources in the startup community. We do the heavy lifting when it comes to data collection and predictive modeling.

The more relevant data you feed machine learning models, the better the quality of the analysis. By using machine learning in lieu of manual guess-estimates (read “spreadsheets”) to evaluate startups, you not only address the breadth of information you can handle, but you’re also able to automate and drastically reduce the cost of the whole process.

We built PreSeries for that purpose. We want startup investors to concentrate time and money where it matters, not on technical tasks like collecting, processing, or evaluating data. Startup scouting and assessment should be like breadcrumbs in your budget. Let us show you how!

We argue that by liberating time from scouting and screening, you can spend time on helping your portfolio companies, which is what we believe venture capital will be all about in the future. (Check out Hunter Walk’s VC time distribution to get a better idea of current time distribution.)

Let our AI invest £100,000 in your startup!

We recently announced that London-based AI Seed venture capital fund will be investing £100,000 in the winner of the next AI Startup Battle that will take place on April 5, 2018 in London at PAPIs.io Europe. And as you already know: No humans in the jury. More info and prizes details here!

>> APPLY NOW <<

The AI Startup Battle arrives in London — Apply now! (Pss: our jury fits in a box!)

Orginally published on Medium

Human v.s. AI has always been a major theme in science fiction. Our love for storytelling and fear of unchained technology still feeds the idea that one day we will loose control over the machines we built. In reality, machine-learning is a bit more boring and mankind is still far from being doomed. We all had dreams of human-like androids and sentient computers, but instead we have Roomba® vacuum cleaners and trust issues when using Google Translate.

The Singularity is nigh!

Instead of preaching the singularity we therefore prefer to concentrate on a friendlier sub-domain of AI: Machine Learning for Startup Investing. Overall, the financial industry is one of the largest benefiting from AI. Machine Learning coupled with vast amount of information helped change the mantra from “more data is better” to “actionable insights are better”. Nonetheless, the venture capital asset class is still playing hard to get. In order to solve this issue firsthand, we decided to build a Machine-Learning-as-a-Service (MLaaS) platform that collects information from a vast set of sources and then generates automated real-time insights & scores about startups and their industries. Startup investors can now easily make data-driven investment decisions. More on our website.

A “VC-in-a-Box” & one-of-a-kind startup battle!

Better insights make better investors, but great investors are able to take decisions in a very short amount of time. Therefore, why not put our AI to the test where startup investors usually don’t have much time to assess potential investments: startup competitions! For this very reason, 3 years ago, we launched a series of international startup competitions where our AI is tasked to replace a whole “human” jury. #HumansNeedNotApply. We call our events the AI Startup Battles and they’ve already been featured in Spain, Brazil and the United States (check our blog). In our competitions, contenders interact live with our AI through a little voice-enabled device present on stage (hence the name “VC-in-a-Box”).

PreSeries’ voice interface is powered by an Amazon Echo

Our AI asks the participants a set of questions looking for fact-based insights as well as many other investment and traction related metrics. It imitates human investors in the types of questions it asks but the breadth of information it can access in real-time is unmatched. PreSeries’ predictive models are trained with a diverse set of public and private data on more than 370,000 companies worldwide and can derive actionable insights in matter of seconds.

We believe that our AI can do a great job at judging the potential of an early-stage startup looking at features around team composition, its industry, its technological edge and its funding history. There is nothing more entertaining than having an data-driven algorithm decide of your fate! Don’t you agree

Note: If you are organizing startup competitions and are ready to bring it to the next level, get in touch with us and we’ll help you organize your very own AI Startup Battle using PreSeries. Let’s talk at battle(at)preseries(dot)com!

AI Startup Battle @ PAPIs Europe

If your heart is pure and you are not afraid to face our digital mastermind, I warmly invite you to apply to participate in the 8th edition of our AI Startup Battle in London (April 5th 2018). The competition is hosted by PAPIs Europe, an international conference on the latest innovations to create real-world Machine Learning applications. It features amazing demos and talks by renowned international experts in AI.

Up to the challenge? Then, fill in the application form available HERE before March 5, 2018! If your startup uses AI as a core enabler, this battle is your chance to get under the spotlight. The startups selected to compete will be able to pitch on stage, make connections, exhibit at PAPIs Europe, and get unique exposure among a highly distinguished audience.

Our co-organizers:

  • PAPIs — PAPIs is the 1st series of international conferences dedicated to real-world Machine Learning applications, and the innovations, techniques and tools that power them. It combines the best of industry and academic conferences, with its expert committee of reviewers and its publications in PMLR. PAPIs is also committed to increasing diversity in ML by making it easier for certain groups to attend conferences.
  • BigML — BigML is the leading Machine Learning company that pioneered the creation of Machine Learning as a Service (MLAAS). BigML offers a consumable, programmable and scalable Machine Learning platform that makes it easy to solve and automate Machine Learning tasks. BigML’s platform helps tens of thousands of analysts, software developers, and scientists from organizations of all sizes and industries to transform data into actionable models.
  • AI Seed — AI Seed offers investment and support for the next generation of Artificial Intelligence founders. They invest early in prime movers to leverage proprietary power and harness data network effects across the value stack. They aim to identify exceptional technical teams using AI to re-imagine industries. They act as trusted partners and understand founders are the ones building their company, they are simply there to help them reach their full potential. Whilst they strive to use data to inform their investment process, ultimately they are founders backing founders and will always be aligned.
  • Telefónica Open Future — Open Future is Telefónica’s global program of entrepreneurship and investment, aimed at attracting innovative products, services and talent to the Company, with the goal of integrating them into our value proposition for customers.It includes several initiatives of proven success, such as the Telefónica Ventures and Amérigo investment funds, the start-up accelerator Wayra and the Think Big and Talentum initiatives

Prize: £100,000 investment by AI Seed & access to Wayra (Telefónica’s incubator)

AI Seed is offering to reward the winner in the form of a £100,000 investment. The investment is subject to approval from AI Seed and must meet the following conditions: (1) Satisfactory completion of Company due diligence, (2) Satisfactory completion of Founder due diligence and anti-money laundering checks, (3) All employees having entered into employee contracts in a form acceptable to the Fund, (4) Receipt of a disclosure letter with respect to warranties (wherein a general disclosure of a data room is unacceptable) (5) Receipt of agreements assigning IP rights to the Company in a form provided by the Fund and executed by each employee, (6) Receipt of board minutes recording Company changes, (7) Completion of shareholder resolutions adopting Company changes, and (8) Payment of the Fund’s fees and expenses by the Company.

The winner of the battle will also have the chance to participate in Telefónica Open Future _ Program. In this respect, the winner may have access, up to six months, to Telefónica Open Future’s pre-acceleration services, subject to space availability (desk space and connectivity). After the six-months of pre-acceleration, the winner will be evaluated and, in case of a positive evaluation by Telefonica Open Future, the winner may have access to Wayra’s Acceleration Program. Wayra Acceleration Program offers financing for up to 50.000$ in the form of a convertible note and acceleration services, for a maximum period of 12 months, valued in a maximum of 70.000$, subject to the fulfillment of certain milestones agreed with Wayra (in the form of physical co-working space for the team, connectivity services, access to its network and know-how, consultancy services, entrepreneurship training, access to the Wayra network of potential investors, other entrepreneurs and practitioners from the venture capital industry).

May the data be with you!

How to organize an entertaining startup battle with your PreSeries AI judge

Originally published on Medium

Today, startup competitions, idea pitches, and demo days are everywhere. If you are an entrepreneur looking for the best place to promote your business, event scouting can become a full-time job. But hey, better drown in opportunities than begging for attention, am I right? If we’re looking only at 2017, there were almost 4,000 startup-related events around the globe (source: Crunchbase). But why so many of them? Well, startup competitions, demo-days, and the like are a very popular way for event organizers to increase the outreach of an event/conference by playing the “entertainment” card, and a great way to get some sponsorship. Let’s assume that 50% of all these events held some kind of startup competitions (conservative coin toss), it’s around 2,500 startup competitions for 2017 only. When you take into consideration that it easily brings media coverage you understand why everyone is fond of them, from entrepreneurs to event organizers, and of course, investors.

While we agree that the participation of startups makes events more entertaining and engaging, we don’t see any kind of innovation happening in how startup competitions are being done. Which is surprising coming from a community of disruption-lovers. The format is always the same, first the startups pitch, then the jury asks some questions, and last but not least a winner is selected.

At PreSeries, we spend every minute of everyday thinking about AI and startup investing. And seeing the format of startup competitions untouched by disruption was making us sad! We had to do something! In an effort to solve this problem, few years ago we launched, in collaboration with the PAPIs conferences, our own series of events. We call them the “AI Startup Battles” and our mantra is “Not yet another normal startup competition”. This time, the entire jury is being replaced by PreSeries very own AI. Our AI does the job of engaging in live Q&A sessions with the contenders on stage and is able to extract real-time insights thanks to machine learning. It leverages a database of more than 370k companies to compare with. Our very talkative AI is able to discuss with the contenders via a custom Amazon Echo present on-stage, making it a very space-efficient jury as it can fit in a small box.

We believe that our AI can do a great job at judging the potential of early-stage startups by looking at features around team composition, industry, technological edge and funding history. We think there is nothing more entertaining than having a data-driven algorithm decide your fate in real-time! Don’t you agree?

Maybe you need to see it to believe it? Then, if you are in London in April, you better not miss the 8th AI Startup Battle at PAPIs Europe (April 4).

As an event organizer, you can also bring the AI Startup Battles to your event, lucky you! We can help you transform your startup competition into a unique AI-driven moment that your guests won’t forget. For more info, get in touch at battle(at)preseries(dot)com and we’ll make sure that the power of PreSeries remains on your side!

PreSeries joins FinTech Sandbox

Originally published in Medium

Building a FinTech startup is like riding a carriage on a dirt road. Sure it’s exciting to follow the path less traveled, but say hello to the bumpiest ride of your life. In this analogy, let’s imagine that PreSeries, our machine-learning platform for startup investors, is a FinTech carriage that needs to find its way through the “data potholes”. With practice, navigating through the uncharted territory of startup data becomes a second nature, but the dream of a road paved with better data remains strong.

The 4 steps of working with startup data!

But why is working with startup data such a challenge? At PreSeries, we are building an automated platform to scout and assess startups from around the globe in few clicks. It goes without saying that startup data is our lifeblood but is … well … scarce, often outdated, expensive to source, and you encounter missing data as often as the word “disrupt” at a tech conference. That’s the nature of working with early-stage private companies, they’re not really open books. But hey, hate the game not the players, right?

This is why we are very happy to announce that PreSeries is joining the FinTech Sandbox program. FinTech Sandbox is a Boston-based nonprofit that drives global FinTech innovation and collaboration. Their 6-month program provides access to data feeds and APIs from industry leading data partners, top quality cloud hosting from infrastructure partners, and much more. FinTech Sandbox is a thriving community of 2,200+ members, 70+ startups, and 40+ partners. We are thrilled to join this growing digital family!

This is an important step for us!

  1. Being part of such an amazing community of FinTech passionate experts makes us really proud. If you are amazed by the team running FinTech Sandbox (jean donnelly, David Jegen, Sarah Biller or Mona M. Vernon to name just some), or the data partners (ThomsonReuters, S&P Global, Dun&Bradstreet or Edgar to name a few), you would also like to check the startup alumni section: Quantopian, CircleUp or Nutonian among others.
  2. Access to new premium data streams will help us increase the quality of our machine learning models. We want to develop the right models and tools so that our users are later on able to access and customize depending on their preferences.
  3. Lastly, we are excited to work with the FinTech Sandbox data partners and explore ways to develop long-standing relationships with them. We are advocates for more data to find and assess startups and are excited to open a whole new market in terms of data consumption with the venture capital community.
The PreSeries Dashboard

Our mission is to build the long-awaited crawling & machine-learning infrastructure needed for better startup scouting and analysis, so startup investors don’t have to! For venture capitalists, our SaaS platform is eliminating the time and cost of building their own machine-learning solution by democratizing access to predictive technologies. We are saving investors an estimated 2 to 5 years of development and between $6 to $10 million a year in development and maintenance cost (infrastructure, data providers, engineers and analysts salaries, etc.).

On a last note, I want to stress the fact that PreSeries is growing and looking for passionate people to join the team. If you want to help us make venture capital a more data-driven practice, fill out our application form! We’re looking for data engineers, data scientists, designers, front-end developers, as well as sales & marketing people. Looking forward to your application!

July Release: Portfolio Sharing and Dashboard API

Summer is upon us, but we won’t let the July heat slow us down! We just released our new collaboration feature, aka portfolio sharing, and our fresh off-the-shelves Dashboard API is now available to anyone interested in integrating PreSeries predictions about startups, investors and industry areas in their solutions.

Portfolio Sharing

In the Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki argues that the aggregation of information in groups often results in better decisions than relying on a single person’s opinion. Early-stage investing doesn’t escape this rule, the amount of uncertainty is better mitigated when various analysts and investors come together and weigh on investing decisions. For this reason, we released the first of many collaboration features, portfolio sharing. Our portfolio sharing feature is the perfect way to share your lists of startups with your team members. Whether you are replicating real investors’ portfolios or trying to simulate virtual ones, you can now give access to your findings directly to your team on the PreSeries platform.

Once you spot a startup you want to include in one of your virtual portfolios, simply click on the folder icon below the company name and select the desired portfolio, or create a new one. The portfolio view from the left menu will automatically update itself (if you cannot see the list of startups, simply click on the expand icon). If you want to remove one company from a portfolio, hover your mouse over one of them in the list and click on the “-” icon.

For a more in-depth look at a portfolio, click on its name directly from the left menu. The portfolio view offers quick insights on the current company status, the country, the city, the current stage, the industry areas, the overall score, as well as the overall score’s evolution over time. Next to the portfolio name on the left menu is an option activate/deactivate the sharing of your portfolio to your team in one click (“green icon = shared” in the screenshot above). The section below called “shared” lists all the portfolios shared with you by other team members.

In the comparison tab, we show the evolution of a given virtual portfolio over time. Colored dots represent companies’ overall scores from 0 to 100 (red = 0 to 20, yellow = 20 to 50, blue 50 to 70, and green 70 to 100). The graph is useful to assess how diversified a portfolio really is by looking at how many of its portfolio startups are projected to achieve a successful exit (IPO or Acquisition).

Dashboard API

The other big announcement is our Dashboard API. It gives you access to all the available insights from the Dashboard, including predictions, present and past.

It is currently only available to owners of the Analyst plan and our partners. Get in touch with us to know more! Analyst subscribers and partners will find the related documentation under the “Documentation” tab (top menu).

We hope these features will turn you into more productive AI-driven workaholics (our niche). Don’t hesitate to drop us an email anytime at info@preseries.com, we’d love to hear your feedback and ideas 😉

 

 

A VC-in-a-Box crowned Dataholics.io at the 6th AI Startup Battle in São Paulo

The 6th Artificial Intelligence Startup Battle came to an end yesterday in São Paulo in fully automated fashion. The jury of this unique battle, PreSeries’ algorithms, has predicted with a score of 96.50 out of 100 that Dataholics is the startup most likely to succeed from among other contenders. Dataholics captures and structures millions of data points about people on social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin, Google, Twitter, Google search results, blogs, web portals and online services. Their algorithm creates a unified profile for each person based on behavioral, professional and demographic indicators from their email, cell phone, name or ID.

From left to right: Renato Valente – Country Manager – Telefonica Open Future_ & Wayra Brasil; João Gabriel Souza – Co-Founder & CEO – Mr. Descartes; Eduardo D. Martucci – Founder and CEO – Voice Commerce; Daniel Mendes – Founder and CEO – Dataholics; Dhiogo Corrêa – Data Architect – Itera; Rafael Libardi – Public Relations Executive – Data H.

In the battle, all five startups have had the chance to introduce their company during a 5­-minute pitch. Later on, PreSeries’ AI took the time to ask some questions to all the contenders about key aspects of their business. The exchange was made possible through a voice-assistant device present on stage (thus the name ‘VC-in-a-box’).

Itera, came in 2nd with a score of 86.81. Itera is a technology company founded in 2008 and established in São Carlos/SP, always aiming to build innovative solutions for its clients. They are now investing in a machine learning platform for text mining named ALICE. The platform is currently focusing on finance, and marketing case studies.

Mr. Descartes got the 3rd position with a score of 62.13. This company provides a chatbot to help cities improve their waste management and sustainability. They work in collaboration with local governments, businesses, and people from the community in order to generate data, educate the public and build lasting partnerships.

Voice Commerce was the 4th startup in the ranking with a score of 62.12. Voice Commerce is a voicebot that provides anyone with a simple, objective and secure online purchase experience through voice commands. It creates the perfect solution for people with visual impairment when buying goods and services online.

Finally, Data H achieved the 5th position with a score of 62.10. DATA H is a startup focused on creating intelligent products and artificial intelligence outsourcing of research and development. DATA H has created its own ecosystem to enable artificial intelligence projects for a diverse set of sectors.

After the event, BigML CEO & Co-founder and President of PreSeries,Francisco J. Martin, shared his thoughts: “Having organized our 6th AI Startup Battle in only the last year and a half across the globe, it is amazing to us that humans are surprisingly open and adaptable in trusting PreSeries algorithms to assess the future prospects of startups. What started as a crazy idea has come to be seen as an obvious need. This can be attributed to the investment professionals being overwhelmed with mountains of new data created every day, which in turn highlights the acute need for objective assistance and automation.”

This edition of the battle took place on June 21 in São Paulo, Brazil, at the PAPIs Connect conference, Latin America’s 1st conference on real-world Machine Learning applications.

Our next AI Startup Battle will be in Boston (Microsoft N.E.R.D. – MIT) for PAPIs ’17 (Oct. 24-25), stay tuned on Twitter with #AIStartupBattle and @PreSeries.

Get your own VC-in-a-Box! (Voice Assistant)

If I ask you to name an important stakeholder that is often an overlooked key component of business operations, I’m sure “assistants” are not the first thing popping up in your mind. But if you look closely, regardless of their title, it’s hard to overstate their contribution to any company’s productivity by helping management staying focused on most important tasks.

As technology has advanced, the skill sets of assistants have continued to evolve to keep apace. The arrival of chatbots and better speech recognition is already drastically changing the landscape by allowing for the automation of many data intensive tasks. It is now possible for many to become their own globally-connected assistant, at a fraction of the cost of hiring a human assistant for such tasks that are better suited for software.

The latest advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence and voice recognition technology is slowly redefining our relationship to our electronic devices. Human-computer interactions are becoming more human-like and the promise of naturally conversing with your devices is just around the corner. The first wave of Voice Assistants lead by the Amazon Echo and its Alexa software appeared late 2014 and their adoption rate has shown no signs of slowing down. After conquering our homes, the battlefield has now moved to businesses as they aim to supercharge the productivity of workplace teams. Acting as task-oriented assistants, are fast becoming tomorrow’s colleagues-in-a-box.

With PreSeries we make it easy for anyone to predict the future of startups. But when fully concentrated in your work, opening the PreSeries Dashboard to get some insights can disrupt your workflow. Simply asking your question out loud, as you would with a colleague or an assistant, feels more natural and allows you to remain focused. Therefore, we built our own PreSeries for Alexa skill in order to bring startup intelligence to devices belonging to the Amazon Echo family. Main features are the scoring of startups in real-time and getting aggregate or detailed information about startups, technology areas, investors, patents, rounds of financing, and IPOs.

Once the skill is enabled, you can use your brand new VC-in-a-Box to discover all kinds of information regarding startups. Below is an example session.

You: “Alexa, ask PreSeries how many startups were founded in the US in 2016”

PreSeries: “The number of startups founded in the US in 2016 is 3857.”

You: “Alexa, ask PreSeries what is the highest scoring startup in the US in Education”

PreSeries: “The highest scoring startup in the category of education is AcmEd”

Check out our introduction video below!

Click here to add the skill to your Alexa powered device and don’t forget to check out our documentation for a complete overview of the questions you can ask your VC-in-a-box.