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1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Nick Adams of Differential Ventures (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 10th 2020

Sramana Mitra: What was Ocrolus doing that was brilliant?

Nick Adams: I can’t share all of that, but they’ve done a couple of things around how they structure their team both on a technology front-end of things and in their back-end operations in India.

They can take a bank statement from somebody looking to get a loan and turn that around in a matter of minutes with 99% accuracy at a very low cost. It’s a very tight integration between the technologies that they’re using. 

Sramana Mitra: This is an enterprise technology selling to banks?

Nick Adams: Banks and alternative lenders, so companies like Lending Club and Kabbage were the bulk of their customers. This is more on the late seed side of things. We finalized our investment in early 2018 as part of a seed round that was still open. The Series A closed within a few days later.

The founder didn’t necessarily have a technical background but he was a naturally good entrepreneur. About six months after Vic joined the company, their margins turned remarkably profitable. We knew we had that balance of a sales-oriented CEO and a technical leader that could run the house. They raised their Series B last year.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s do another one. 

Nick Adams: I’ll give another recent one. It’s a company called Knockri that’s based in Toronto. They were introduced to us by one of our other founders. It was a really interesting story.

Jahanzaib Ansari is the CEO. His previous startup had failed. They were looking for jobs. He was struggling to find a job in the Toronto market and felt there was a lot of bias in the process and that he was being filtered out unreasonably so by hiring managers.

He kept tinkering with his name on resumes and ended up as Jason Ansari and was hired two weeks later. It’s an amazing story. It resonated with me and our team.

Jahanzaib and his co-founders Maaz and Faisal are just entrepreneurial guys. They started this company which is doing sentiment analysis of video interviews. Particularly for large companies, applicants go through a video interview before they meet somebody in the company. Knockri plugs into Webex or Zoom and marries natural language understanding with analysis of facial features.

They’ve taken a simple approach that’s also compliant with a lot of the regulations popping up in the market today that’s making things harder for some of the competition. It’s trying to make an actual recommendation as to whether or not you should hire somebody.

They built out really intelligent models in the back-end where my partner is coming in and helping them to make sure there is a really diverse base of datasets being used to train the application and monitor it over time for any bias in the algorithms. With the pandemic, there are not a lot of in-person interviews right now.

Sramana Mitra: This is a good segue into what I was going to ask you. What kind of impact does this COVID discontinuity have on this company?

Nick Adams: There’s quite a bit of lift. Transitioning to working from home was quite easy for us. A lot of big companies are still struggling to churn through this. Like you said earlier, how do you get people on the line and going through the pain of logging into VPNs.

We see an awful lot of lift. The new pipeline has just exploded for them, but we don’t know yet. It’s going to be counter cyclical to a lot of the economy. 30 million people have filed for unemployment last month. I’m hoping that Knockri is going to be a value-adding partner to help people get back to work in a cost-effective way.

This segment is part 3 in the series : 1Mby1M Virtual Accelerator Investor Forum: With Nick Adams of Differential Ventures
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