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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Spencer Crawley of Firstminute Capital (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 9th 2019

Sramana Mitra: We just announced a partnership with EIT Health. They are going to be accelerating 115 companies with us. The first 15 have been named.

Spencer Crawley: How did that come about? That seems really impressive and exciting.

Sramana Mitra: We have very deep connections in Europe. I am married to a European. My husband, Dominique Trempont, was Steve Jobs’ right hand at Next. He’s on the Board of one of your British media conglomerates DMGT.

Spencer Crawley: I’m on the fourth floor of Northcliffe House.

Sramana Mitra: Dominique knows a lot of people in that sector. Also, his Alma mater is Leuven University in Belgium. Conrad De Backer from Leuven is very involved in EIT. That’s how all this came about. One thing led to another and we started working together. It’s been a really nice partnership in that we are exactly what they needed in terms of their evaluation. They were looking for a deep curriculum and a deep network. We have all of that. It has been a very interesting partnership to develop.

Spencer Crawley: Is it a sector that you’ve been looking at for a long time?

Sramana Mitra: We only do technology and technology-enabled services. That’s IT; not biotech and clean tech. Digital health, within the IT sector, is a very big sector. We go wherever the trends are. I believe, personally, that digital health is a gigantic opportunity for the next decade, whether it’s applications of AI or applications of various kinds of monitoring.

There’s a tremendous amount to be done in that segment. It’s not so much about personal passion. It’s just a very clear observation that that’s a problem domain that needs to be solved. There is so much that should be done and could be done that hasn’t been done yet. Those kinds of segments tend to yield very good venture investments. My passion is anything that can be a good business for my entrepreneur community.

Spencer Crawley: I hope it means that we get to see you much more often in Europe and London.

Sramana Mitra: Absolutely. Speaking of sectors, where are you looking and where do you want to place your bets?

Spencer Crawley: We have invested in a range of businesses from a company based out of Cambridge here in the UK building software for self-driving. We are in San Francisco this week. We have backed a number of B2C businesses ranging from a delivery business to a couple of others in the more traditional e-commerce world. We have backed a wireless charging platform called Chargify. We invested alongside Intel and HP.

We have backed a number of businesses in the Blockchain space, some of which are steadily coming out of stealth. We have started to look closely at two operating systems. One is in the synthetic biology space, which is building a programming platform. We’ve invested in an exciting gaming business in Germany.

When we think about AI, we tend to look at horizontal AI businesses that are attacking a very specific use case. One is in NLP which is working with one or two of the larger banks here in the UK. For us, it has gotten to a stage in the fund where there are three or four sectors where we’re spending an increasing amount of time because we feel we’re excited about them. We’ve been spending quite a lot of time both on food tech and digital health broadly. If you can crack distribution through the complex web, there’s a big opportunity in digital health.

We backed a cybersecurity company in Tel Aviv focused on medical devices. We did the seed for that. As a team, we see ourselves as generalists. There are areas where colleagues start to focus on particular areas. We remain resolutely generalist and founder-driven as opposed to thesis-driven.

This segment is part 3 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Spencer Crawley of Firstminute Capital
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