We are excited to announce the launch of Basis Set Ventures (BSV), an early-stage venture fund focusing on improving work productivity through artificial intelligence for white and blue collar workers.
We believe artificial intelligence (AI) delivers core value to businesses by improving the current business workflow and uncovering new opportunities. AI has the power to enable us to elevate our work to levels we couldn’t achieve before. Our $136M fund is dedicated to investing in companies that set out to improve work efficiency, particularly workflow automation and vertically focused companies with full-stack solutions.
We take a proactive and thematic approach to choosing our companies. We talk with users and customers every week so that we deeply understand the evolving issues and opportunities they are facing, and we combine that with a data-driven sourcing philosophy to looking at talent, traction and financials. We think it’s important to invest in a set of companies representative of the areas or verticals we are excited about (e.g. professionals in marketing, sales and design functions, supply-chain management, construction, manufacturing, farming verticals), whether those companies are based in California or other parts of the country.
Of course, none of these philosophies would matter if not for the great companies that are emerging and thriving in the AI space, sparking material change in work productivity. We wanted to share more about two of our early investments that reflect the promise and potential in this area.
Clara Labs. We are excited to lead Clara Labs’ series A financing, alongside Sequoia Capital and First Round Capital. Clara Labs automates the process of meeting scheduling for busy professionals, a workflow that is complex, granular, and yet essential to the day-to-day of just about every business in every industry.
I first began using Clara as my assistant in the company’s early days, when she would sometimes be slow to respond or might miss contextual information. So I continued to try every similar product out there, but I kept following the company because I was impressed with their ability to recruit the sharpest talent in Silicon Valley. The second time I tasked Clara as my assistant, the experience was incredible; she became my instant life-saver. She works 24/7, responds within 20 minutes, proactively follows up on meetings, and is almost consistently spot-on with her choices. The company’s progress in a year’s time was astounding, and meeting the co-founders, Maran and Michael, showed me why. They’ve assembled a remarkable team and their pragmatic “human in the loop” approach is critical in building a product that users love today.
Falkonry. Falkonry automates industrial operational gains by combining advanced pattern recognition techniques on industrial data with the knowledge of domain experts, and generates real-time alerts towards improving uptime, yield, quality, and efficiency. Falkonry was one of those companies where just a conversation with Nikunj, the CEO, blew me away — even before seeing their time series predictive product. Having built plenty of statistical models in my PhD and post-doc career, I appreciate the importance of domain expertise in making data science useful. Most similar offerings aren’t really made to let domain experts use their products directly, but Falkonry’s product beautifully combines data science and engineering domain expertise into something that significantly shortens the diagnostic time and reduces massive amounts of cost. Incidentally, the industrial AI space has a strong Asia angle, and fellow Basis Set Ventures partner Richard Peng brings strong experience in operations there. Starting with Falkonry, we’ll be working together to help portfolio companies enter that market and work better with factories in Asia.
And finally, on a personal note. At BSV, we want to make work better for everyone — starting with ourselves and the venture capital space we work in. “Better” doesn’t just mean more efficient, it also means creating an environment that’s diverse and welcoming. We believe in gender equality, starting with the systems and policies that ensure this in the workplace, like parental leave and childcare. Without the support of my husband, who now rightly calls himself a “super dad,” I certainly wouldn’t have been able to launch this fund, and I want to ensure those same opportunities for my entrepreneurs and my own team. The tech sector is full of endlessly evolving ideas, especially those AI-focused ideas that are almost in their relative infancy — and I’m excited for the great minds I’ll continue to meet and work together with on this.