Why we invested in Full Speed Automation
At OSS Ventures, we invest in and co-build the software stack of the future of operations. As a venture builder existing since 2019, we created 12 companies of which 8 performed a series A, and are present in more than 800 factories throughout Europe. As builders of solutions for the manufacturing world, we are lucky to be at the forefront of the future of operations and are grateful for it. We have a habit, when we invest at a company, to write down our thinking process. So you may find everything written below interesting as it is.
When raising our resolution/opportunity fund at OSS, the base thesis was straightforward : operations are roughly 40% of the GDP, and in the value chain software is going to take 15 to 20% of all of that, so we invest in the software that is meaningfully increasing the value chain in the operations world. Coming from both technology and operations, it made sense, and after 2 years as a venture builder, we were confident in quality startups coming to us when dealing with the same thesis.
And boy did it deliver. As our co-founder Michael Valentin wrote a book about Tesla, and through various network effects, we met Luc on a sunny afternoon in Paris. The Frenchman was spending several days in Paris meeting prospects. As the former French engineer who got Tesla out of production hell in their very first Fremont facility, we wanted to hear what he had to say.
The base problem is as follows : the lack of standardization and balkanisation of the machine world made it so that manufacturers are stuck with two bad options :
- Either put every single automation project for a given factory in the hands of one machine maker to ensure interoperability (resulting in the very strong “We’re a Siemens company, We’re a Bosch company, …” saying) and lose all bargaining power and effectively shutting you out of any non-Siemens or non-Bosch innovation ;
- Or mix and match different types of machines and automation, but lose any hope of programming efficiently, nor orchestrating operations (as A. the language on top of the machines are different and B. Deep integration such as if machine A does X, then machine B should do Y is impossible).
The vision of Full Speed Automation, led by Luc, was simple : be the one and only software layer on top of every machine in the factory, to empower factory workers to manage their operations as simply as coders managing the different services of a micro-service-based architecture.
It was indeed a daunting task, as all horizontal softwares share same issues such as, and unfortunately not limited to :
- Cold start problem (which integrations to do first) ;
- Go to market problem, perimeter (what is the critical mass of software needed to be able to go to market, and is it viable with standard financing) ;
- Go to market problem, size and speed (putting Vitesse, the name of the product, in a factory at scale is so transformational one can get stuck in a never-ending negotiation with first customers).
Those challenges did not scare away our builders heart, mainly because the vision is so grand : Full Speed Automation has the potential for becoming the category leader in capturing a large part of the value chain in automation, which accounts for roughly 30% of all the cost base in a given factory, and moreover participate to a fairer, greener world of producing physical goods.
In the short 3 months since our investment, Luc built a world-class team between Angers and San Francisco, landed Tesla as a customer (no surprise here) and several other world-class manufacturers.
Here’s to finally getting the manufacturers out of the gridlock they’re in.
Here’s to deep automation and orchestration. Here’s to Full Speed Automation.
If you read this far, you’re likely very interested in this story. At OSS Ventures, we fuel on having incredible founders joining, ambitious factory executives taking the leap of faith and working with us, and ambitious investors joining in. If you fit in one or all of the above categories, we want to hear about you. firstname.lastname@example.org . Hit us up. Maybe we can change the lives of factory workers together.