Sramana Mitra: What geography do you cover?
Garrett Goldberg: North America. We’re in San Francisco but we’re generally agnostic. We’re certainly agnostic but it’s important for us to be here. This is the center of gravity for now just in terms of processing opportunities.
Sramana Mitra: Talk about sectors. Where do you like to invest?
Garrett Goldberg: We’re strictly enterprise-focused. We’re talking about frontier tech. We’re talking about different verticals within B2B. It can be healthcare. It can be logistics. It can be insurance. We’re agnostic when it comes to verticals. We have exposure to many verticals.
Sramana Mitra: You’re okay with deep tech and cybersecurity?
Garrett Goldberg: Cyber security is one we avoid. Otherwise deep tech, yes. We have an investment construct we call vector investing that cuts across all these verticals – edge computing, human-computer interaction. We invest in verticals that leverage these different themes.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s do a few case studies. Talk about two or three companies that you’ve invested in that you’re particularly excited about and are representative of what you like to invest in. In each case, tell us when did they come to you? What did they have? What was it about them that drew your attention enough to want to write checks?
Garrett Goldberg: There’s a company called Iris Automation. They build a drone sense-and-avoid technology. We have invested in a company called SkyCatch, which is a drone for monitoring construction sites. We were trying to explore if drones were a sector of their own. We came to this conclusion that drones are not the sector. It’s mining and construction.
Iris came to us and said, “We see this future of drones in all these industries. In order to enable that, we need to build sense-and-avoid technology.” It’s an onboard technology for that drone to see where it’s flying. We can program a drone to fly from here to Nevada, but it doesn’t see anything along the way.
As we enter the FAA airspace with drones, we have to adhere to what the FAA has set up. The drone would have to be able to take evasive maneuver if an airplane enters its field of vision or its flight path, or if a building is built that’s not mapped out.
This detect-and-avoid technology is effectively horizontal that can service customers who are doing the pipeline inspection or are doing drone delivery.
Sramana Mitra: The founder had the machine vision background to be able to do this?
Garrett Goldberg: We’re not biased. We just back more experienced founders. A lot of them have gone into the industry, figured out what’s missing, and then left to go build the solution. In this case, it was a young founder, who’s really smart with computer vision.
We wrote them their first check pre-YC. This company ended up going to YC for strategic reasons. We wrote them $200,000. They’ve now raised upwards of $40 million.