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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Nick Adams of Differential Ventures (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Jun 9th 2020

Sramana Mitra: Double-click down a little bit on what kinds of businesses. You said enterprise and data science. Can you add some color?

Nick Adams: I would break it down to three categories. We’re broadly looking at the future of work. Specifically, how data and data science can change the way businesses operate today. The opportunity is still very large. It’s still at the early days of making information actionable.

We look at the full spectrum of data from collecting, interpreting, and securing it on the backend. We look at that from three layers of technologies. On the backend, we look at infrastructure type platforms. Things like model monitoring or infrastructure around performance optimization to make models work more efficiently, more cost effectively.

Then we go up to a platform level. How can we enable data scientists and engineers to better build, enable, and facilitate data science throughout an entire organization?

Third, it’s applied AI. When we do an applied AI platform, it’s something that on the front-end has a transaction-by-transaction value proposition to it by either helping the company sell more or cut cost. At the same time, we are gathering and collecting a potentially valuable set of data that we can interpret, analyze, and make use of down the road. 

Sramana Mitra: What is the future of work context to this?

Nick Adams: It’s going to be largely driven by data. Today, enterprises are doing a better job of collecting data. Most companies are still at the Big Data stage. We’re still really new in terms of data analysis and how to apply that to the organization in reliable and unbiased ways. 

Sramana Mitra: Your interpretation of the future of work as a terminology is a bit different. The way the future of work is interpreted a lot is remote work and virtual work.

Especially with COVID-19, everybody is talking about future of work being virtual. That’s not what you’re referring to; you’re referring to general workflows in enterprises that are becoming more data-driven and automated. 

Nick Adams: We’re just more interested in how decisions get made.

Sramana Mitra: Understood. Let’s do a couple of examples of things that you have invested in. In doing so, tell us how you encountered these companies. What were in them that caught your attention enough for you to want to write a check?

Nick Adams: One of our earliest investments was a company here in New York called Ocrolus. They do data extraction, validation, and analysis of underwriting documents for alternative lenders, mortgage lenders, financial services, or accounts payable, essentially any paper-intensive and data-intensive business process that’s tied to some financial outcome.

We met them through an angel investor here in New York that we know pretty well. The company had been around for two to three years at that point and had started out working with small accounting and law firms, and had just started to get traction. It happened to be a business I knew pretty well.

When I met Sam and Vic, I was blown away by how efficient and effective they were in terms of cost and back-end operations. Their cost to process a transaction was about a third of what mine was just a few years earlier. So I knew something it was operationally brilliant and technically well thought out.

I spent two or three months meeting with them and digging into their processes. I just didn’t believe it. The more and more I dug into it, it was clear that they were just operationally brilliant. 

This segment is part 2 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Nick Adams of Differential Ventures
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