Applied Frontier: An Emergent Theme

Vaughn Blake
Aug 25, 2016 · 3 min read

“So, what kind of stuff do you invest in?” This is the question that I’ve been most often asked since launching Autochrome I in January. Thus far, I’ve focused on horizontal themes — trends and technologies that can be applied across ‘verticals’ or ‘sectors’, providing a wider-breadth in terms of portfolio exposure and, selfishly, more insight and information for myself as an investor.

Developing themes can be difficult. Philosophically, I have abided by the latticework model of approaching investing up until this point. I wade into many lakes, sometimes diving deep, other times admiring the movement of the water’s surface, but always taking a sample of the water home in order to compare with others. As a result, the themes I’ve championed over the last 8 months have been broad and interrelated.

Since it’s inception in January of this year, Autochrome I has made 14 public investments. Though they’ve run the gamut with respect to sector, each investment has had to both support out investment theses while reflecting our investment themes. After spending time across the landscape and diving in to many lakes, it’s time to focus on a single body of water.

An emergent theme that I’ve been developing for the past quarter is “Applied Frontier”. I’m defining the theme as follows:

The narrow application of frontier technologies to the disciplines of applied science and industry.

  • If a company can be described as X frontier technology meets Y industrial category, then I’m interested.
  • Examples: VR Meets Healthcare; AI Meets Manufacturing; Drones Meet Agriculture; Autonomous Vehicle Security
  • An alternative description could be Frontier Meets Enterprise.

Autochrome will now be exclusively focused on opportunities that fall within the Applied Frontier framework. We see great promise and tremendous value in company’s leveraging the world’s most exciting technologies in this fashion.

In fact, our last two investments were made while internally developing the theme. Senetur and Transported are the latest additions to the Autochrome portfolio and we couldn’t be more excited to be investors in each company.

Senetur is a data intelligence platform for the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Founded by a 9 year Ford automotive engineer with a specialization in data science, Senetur is helping large-scale manufacturing and industrial enterprises by unlocking increased efficiencies in supply-chain management, inventory optimization, and production AI. This team and approach embodies the thematic framework around Applied Frontier and I’m excited to watch as they begin announcing their new partners and clients in Q4.

Transported is 1)a platform for real estate agents to create Virtual Reality walkthroughs and 2) a marketplace for buyers to view them. With an initial focus on up-market locales, Transported helps agents make more money by reducing the time invested to produce a sale and helps buyers save time by reducing the number of physical visits they have to make. What attracted us to this investment is that it fit the curve with our theories around VR adoption, advancements in 3D camera technology, and VR-as-a-solution — with an absolutely stellar team to boot.

I’ll be spending as much time as I can thinking, reading and writing about this theme over the foreseeable future.


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