What a first year this has been.
Over the past year we’ve partnered with entrepreneurs who impress us with their drive and ideation, and we now have over a dozen portfolio companies in the BSV community that match our mission of using artificial intelligence to fuel work productivity.
We invest in AI that improves the way people work, both inside and outside the office, and we’ve written before about some of the white collar productivity ideas we’re excited about. We’ve also been spending more time understanding the traditional blue collar worker space as we grow our portfolio to include companies that are using AI to solve complex real-world problems. These companies are addressing issues like the labor shortage in farms (where we invested in FarmWise together with our friends at Felicis and Playground); the high churn of hourly workers (Workstream helps hourly workers find employment in restaurants and factories); machine downtime in factories (early BSV portfolio company Falkonry recently closed a Series A round); and lack of security (our investment in Turing Video helps make offices and factories more secure). For these and the many other unique companies in our growing portfolio, we couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with the talented, inspirational entrepreneurs bringing these solutions to market.
Building a fund is one of one hardest things I’ve done. Raising two kids is by far the hardest thing I’ve done. Building a fund while raising two young kids (or rather, “incubating” my second child while fundraising for and then launching BSV) has taken that to a new level. It’s the BSV team and support of our friends, founders, and partners that made this possible.
Last year we welcomed John Mannes to the investing team, and this spring we were thrilled to have Anna Chang join the team as well. Anna is an experienced leader in sales and operations who previously worked at Dropbox and Stripe. Our portfolio companies are already benefitting from her experience as she helps them develop go-to-market strategies and scale their business. Our advisors work with the BSV team and portfolio companies day-in and day-out; Niniane has been particularly instrumental in helping us build what is becoming the strongest technical women leaders network.
A big part of being a good partner to great companies means continuing to immerse ourselves in the space they operate in and all the rapid changes around the future of work, so this past year has also been filled with some unique side projects. In February, for example, I returned to the Midwest on a “Comeback Cities Tour” with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and a dozen venture capitalists to see the innovation taking place there and how we can get more investment flowing to companies in this region. What really stood out to me was the range of market-specific solutions to address locational working challenges, driven by entrepreneurs uniquely positioned to understand and empathize with their users and needs they’re solving for. More recently, I’ve become a contributing author to Forbes where I’ve shared my thoughts on topics like the ways AI can create more work opportunity and finding a work-life balance through technology.
Over the past year, BSV has launched and grown a thriving Women in AI Community. What started as a group of 15 female CTOs and founders gathering for dinner once a month to discuss industry-related topics, has turned into a full-fledged community of women who help each other grow in tech and expertise just as they provide feedback and advice on leadership and other challenges. We also continue to host intimate events that bring together industry leaders and startup CEOs to spark conversation and discuss opinions and advice on themes like voice recognition, robotics, managing workforces, and insurance tech. We love being able to offer our office as the hub to gather together and foster an even closer community.
On that note, as the extended BSV family continues to work together, we’re excited to be able to regularly invite our growing community to bring their kids to our office so collaborative work can be just as attainable for working parents. Whether for our portfolio companies, advisors, pitching entrepreneurs, or anyone else in our community busy raising a family while developing AI innovations, it’s tremendously rewarding to foster a workspace where kids can amuse themselves in BSV’s Future of Play area while mom or dad takes a meeting or participates in our events.
As we embark on our second year as a firm, we are more optimistic than ever about the opportunity for AI to improve the productivity, process, and success of our many and varied collective work lives. We look forward to continuing this journey alongside our talented entrepreneurs who are tackling the problems of today to make our lives better tomorrow. If you or someone you know shares our beliefs, we would love to meet!
Lan Xuezhao, founding and managing partner, on behalf of the BSV team