Welcome to the first post of our new interview series. Given AI and machine learning is pervading many industries and professions, we thought we'd reach out to a few experts in various industries to find out more about their experience to date. First up, we're very fortunate to have Creel Price, adventurer, entrepreneur, and CEO of Investible, one of Australia's most exciting venture capital firms.
VL: Tell us a little about yourself and Investible.
CP: I’m Creel Price, CEO of Investible, a global seed stage investor with offices in Sydney and Singapore.
VL: Let's get right into it - how do you think startups, and perhaps more specifically, VC is going to change in the coming years? Are there any particular trends you're seeing now that you think will last?
CP: With returns for venture capital being realised more and more, funds will come into the sector that will have a knock on effect, so that timely dealflow will become even more important.
VL: How about AI? What do you think - gold rush or hype?
CP: AI is here to stay - though that said I think it is in danger of becoming a cliché term like ‘disruption’ did for a while. Particularly when startups use AI in their pitch as a throwaway line without any deep knowledge of how it will work or without any traction in developing their own AI or applying it in a different way (i.e. outside of using something off the shelf).
VL: We definitely see a lot of that! Usually it's pretty easy to tell, although not always, like with these guys! Ok, though, in terms of 'real' AI, can you share with us one of the more exciting AI applications you've seen? E.g. are there any particular companies you're watching in this space?
CP: We recently invested in a•kin, an AI company that aims to replicate human ‘intuitive’ problem solving - rather than logical reasoning - in order to model human pattern recognition, mental models, and implicit conceptual systems for quick decision making, even in environments where data is uncertain or insufficient.
VL: Very interesting company - we've been chatting to them too regarding collaboration on the Sydney AI Hub. Great, that sets up the next question well: how do you decide whether to invest in an AI company - and how much does the technology matter?
CP: Investible tends not to invest into deep tech that will take years before commercialisation, nor do we tend to get excited about the latest bleeding edge technology out of a university without an experienced founder team.
That said, we love where technology has an immediate application to solving problems, and where this tech is paired with a founder team with a clear vision around what the technology can do now and in the future - i.e. how they solve a clearly identified pain point in a compelling market, with a clearly articulated go-to-market strategy - preferably with validated traction.
VL: Regarding Investible - you're building a reputation around using data to inform decisions about investments - can you elaborate further on this?
CP: Our investment process is part art and part science. Having to screen over 1,000 decks in each region we can’t have 1:1 meetings with everyone and data on early stage companies is scarce. We score the decks and pitches across our Investibility index which incorporates 16 elements about the business and founder team that then make up a potential of 250 data points. Depending on the stage we use our algorithm - the science - to whittle down to 20% whereby the investment team can bring in their own insights and preferences - the art - to determine which companies we take to the next stage.
VL: Makes a lot of sense - and it will be really interesting to see what you can learn from that data going forward. So what's next for Investible? Anything you'd like to share here?
CP: Recognising that the best startups are rarely around the corner we are busily building our networks in key cities around the world with a particularly focus on SE Asia.
VL: Looking forward to seeing who you find - no doubt there's a ton of innovation happening in that region. Ok finally, and more generally, how do you think the VC community could be better prepared for technological change?
CP: I think VC’s are more prepared than most for technological change but there can be a herd mentality where key technologies are heavily supported at a moment in time before this interest wanes. A potential trend will be VC’s focusing less on sectors and more on technologies (eg VR or AI) will increase the level of informed decision making.
VL: Certainly, the hype cycle is alive and well! Well, it's certainly an exciting time to be a VC. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.
To find out more about Creel and Investible, check out Investible.com.