Business

Investment is broken, argues the team behind this AI fund

By Oliver Smith 26 September 2016
Multiple co-founders Gabbi Cahane, Joey Kotkins, Katy Turner & Abbie Pugh built the AI VC in three months.
Summary

Yes, this artificially intelligent investment fund was a joke, but the points it made were very real.

The world of small digital businesses is… totally bonkers.

Whether you’re ‘pivoting’ your business (completely changing direction), or bringing a teddy bear to your meetings.

Earlier this summer the world’s first Venture Capital fund powered entirely by Artificial Intelligence popped up and pushed the madness to its limits.

Cue pun-based business names, questionable business models and management speak bursting with acronyms.

Yes the AI VC was a tongue-in-cheek joke, but it actually made some really good points about the world of small business today.

Read more: Meet the AI fund that’s got investors worried

We wanted to learn more, so we sat down with Katy Turner, one of the architects of the project – which was built in partnership with developer Signal Noise.

Turner started her career in technology at mobile operator Orange, rising up through the marketing ranks, before working at technology investor Eden Ventures and Tech City UK.

A mentor for both Seedcamp and TechStars, she last year co-founded Multiple, a business consultancy for growth stage tech companies.

Oliver Smith: What points where you trying to make with the AI VC?

Katy Turner: We really wanted to poke a little fun at the whole venture industry.

What’s really ironic about venture is that VCs sit in board rooms all day long assessing the innovation levels of entrepreneurs and different companies, but they don’t often innovate themselves, which is kind of ironic.

Katy Turner, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Multiple.

It’s changing a little bit now, because you have what I would call ‘new school VCs’ coming in trying to do things a little bit differently, like Spring Partners.

There’s also a lot of pattern recognition going on in VCs. It’s often the case that VCs get into habits with the entrepreneurs that sit in front of them, for example they tend to focus on ‘hot themes’.

And it’s not just VCs locked into these patterns.

From the entrepreneur’s side of the table they’re often focusing on raising the money over actually building a valuable business.

OS: So how successful was the AI VC?

KT: I hate this word, but we ‘growth hacked’ it.

We do a lot of work with companies trying to build really strong, sustainable, repeatable growth, but this was not that.

We seeded the AI VC to friends and family in our extended network within 24 hours it was No.2 on ProductHunt, which accelerated it further.

On Twitter it ‘reached’ 2.5m people, we saw over 65,000 questions answered on AI VC and a total of 2,200 term sheets were signed.

And the whole project only took about three months from start to finish.

And do you think artificial intelligence will actually revolutionise venture capital one day?

AI could be a big part of VC in the future, but I’m not sure that it would ever fully replace the human VC because a big part of finding the best investment comes from human intuition and the people involved.

The answer is a little bit yes, a little bit no.

UPDATE 2016-09-26 – Added a line to clarify that the development work on AI VC was done by design studio Signal Noise.