On Tuesday October 13th, the Obvious Ventures team headed to Los Angeles for the 2015 Kairos Summit: an amazing gathering of fifty teams of young entrepreneurs working on startups purpose-built to solve big global problems.
When we first connected with the team at Kairos, we instantly knew that we were mission and values aligned. That early love-fest led to a crazy idea: let’s create a #worldpositive prize — a $50K investment — for one Kairos startup that best fits our investment criteria at Obvious; a company building a disruptive solution to a systemic challenge.
At this year’s Kairos Summit we turned that idea into reality. We spent the morning meeting with ten finalist companies:
Abaris | Privatized social security
Chemisense | Wearable air quality monitor
Dray | Mobile marketplace for long-haul trucking
Exvivo | Non-invasive skin patch to test for allergies
Fred Sense | Real-time water monitoring biosensor
Knox | At home asthma management solution
Leka | Smart toys to increase children’s interactions
Proscia | Image analysis for pathology
Shotput | Streamlines the use of warehouses for inventory management
Wavvestream | Nanotechnology to enhance the contaminant removal properties of water filtration products
Our rapid-fire diligence was focused on a search for three things:
- A founding team with a complementary mix of technology, design, and business skills
- A disruptive solution to a big, growing problem
- A unique, defensible technology at the core of the solution
Our decision was a tough one. There were many exciting startups across the Kairos 50, and we fell in love with all of our ten selected finalists. That said, one of those finalists stood out and delivered on all three of our search criteria…
The 2015 #worldpositive prize winner: ChemiSense!
ChemiSense, based in Berkeley, CA, develops environmental sensors that are smaller, cheaper, and lower in power consumption than anything we’ve seen before. Their vision is to network these sensors at scale to provide real-time information and analytics about air quality. At Obvious Ventures, we have seen many previous attempts at this. ChemiSense is the first team we’ve seen that can deliver parts-per-billion volatile organic compound (VOC) detection in a low cost connected device. We believe that’s a big #worldpositive solution and we can’t wait to work with the founders and help bring it to market.