Sramana Mitra: When you say you have an operational team, what did your operational team do in this case?
Parthib Srivathsan: We announced the deal on the 1st of April so it’s still early days. Our competency is primarily around the go-to market. We act as an extension of the startup. We identify areas where the team potentially lacks depth in. We roll up our sleeves and do the work.
This could be something as simple as helping them with introduction or doing market research or any kind of research. We follow that through with leveraging our finance competencies. If they’re going down a specific path, what does that mean in terms of impact on their cash runway or their customer acquisition cost.
We essentially help them build out a full 360-degree view on the impact of the business based on different strategies that they could pursue. We could also follow this by helping them staff the functions with the right people at the appropriate time.
Very simply put, we see us as an extension. Think of us as experts that are not shy about getting down to rolling our sleeves. We think of ourselves as partners to the CEO and the executive team.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s do another example of another company that you’ve invested in. Go through some of the same kind of analysis on how you found them.
Parthib Srivathsan: Another is Smartvid.io. It deploys artificial intelligence to help the construction industry mitigate risks as far as accidents and incidents go. We’re not specific on the type of role we could play. We look for gaps that we can essentially fill.
We incubated a team to help them with machine learning. They deployed artificial intelligence to identify security concerns based on feeds they could get from cameras. We incubated an image tagging team to help accelerate their AI development. We did that for a little while. Right now, the team is actually a 35-member team that helps them build.
Sramana Mitra: That’s implementation.
Parthib Srivathsan: Yes, it starts with the go-to market. It moves to operational and ends with helping them understand the financial implications.
Sramana Mitra: Who pays for this?
Parthib Srivathsan: These are engagements that we use to support our portfolio companies with. If it’s from our team, it’s work that we do as part of our contribution. We also recommend partners that they could work with. Those are direct relationships that our portfolio companies might engage with.
Sramana Mitra: With the case study of building a 35-member team, the startup is paying for it?
Parthib Srivathsan: Yes, they own the team.
Sramana Mitra: What trends are you seeing in both your portfolio and your inbound deals right now? We are in May 2020.
Parthib Srivathsan: Things haven’t changed much in terms of our deal flow. We still continue to see high-growth B2B startups. That has been a constant. We see a lot of deals referred by Series A or seed investors. As of right now, it’s too early to tell the impact of COVID.