Where We Are Investing Now: Individual Robotics
We see personal robotics as a dramatic method for bringing the power of new science closer to humans. Our perspective on robotics is broad. Successful robots don’t need to be humanoid. They don’t need to have full bodies; we see haptics is part of robotics, for instance. Robotics, for us, means devices that replicate or augment a previously human-delivered activity through direct interaction with humans or human systems (e.g., brainwaves, sensors, physical movements, sounds, etc.).
In our Vertical SaaS investment focus area at Social Starts, we are finding interesting robotic solutions in:
- Shop floors
- Supply chains
In Consumer Goods, an interest of both of our funds, we see robots appearing as:
- Store assistants
- Pick-and-pack human replacement or augmentation
In Life Sciences, the heart of Joyance Partners, we are finding robots having impact in:
- Delivery of health services, such as our current investments IrisVision, whose headset allows vision-impaired patients see more clearly; UnaliWear, which provides 24/7 support for elderly patients; and NeoSensory, which creates new sensory experiences through sensory substitution.
- Mobility, especially for the young and old, such as our current investment Trexo, which builds wearable robots that help children with Cerebral Palsy walk
- Telemedicine, like our current investment Limbic, an AI powered therapy assistant; figur8, which provides live analysis of body movement control; and Noctrix, a therapeutic sleep-assistance device
- Companionship for young and old
- Surgical assistance
In Market-Based Education, aspects of which touch each of our funds, robots are impacting:
- Tutoring and education delivery, such as our current investments Van Robotics, which provides robot tutors for students of ages K-8; and TransfrVR, which uses virtual reality to teach practical skillsets.
Given this extensive impact zone, we will continue to focus on robotic investment. We should do so, however, exclusively through the lens of our focus areas. Historically speaking, our deal flow in robotics has been sparse, but has produced a high investment hit rate. We should do all we can to expand our company discovery here, worldwide — but we should only invest when we have all of these factors: a great entrepreneur, a great product with a clear business model and a clear path to exit. If we do our jobs right, these investments will be rare, but do quite well.
By Managing Partner Mike Edelhart