Where We Are Investing Now: Personal Robotics
Personal Robotics has historically been a small but solid focus area for our funds. We should continue this year as we did in 2019. That means looking hard at robots in medical/health, education, and vertical SaaS (outside manufacture). But we should only invest when we have a great entrepreneur, a great product, and a clear business model and path to exit. If we are doing our jobs right, these investments should be rare, but do quite well and seldom fail.
Our primary focus areas for the rest of this year should be
- Individual health, specifically motion and other forms of enablement for groups that would otherwise be isolated or limited, enhancing or standing in for the five senses, and companions to the lonely/elderly.
- Childhood and later-in-life education.
- Food production after COVID, where keeping risky humans away from the goods will become increasingly important.
Our perspective on robotics should be broad and open-minded. Robots don’t need to be humanoid. They don’t need to have full bodies. Haptics are part of robotics, in our view, and not just for hands, but for other specific body parts as well. The center of robotics for us is a device that replicates or augments a previously human-mediated activity through direct interaction with humans or human systems (i.e. brainwaves, muscle movements).
Given this extensive impact zone, we should continue to focus on robotics exclusively through the lens of other focus areas. How do these new devices create new opportunities in all these key areas?
Frankly, our robotics deal flow has been sparse compared to other areas that matter to us but has produced a high investment hit rate. We should do all we can to expand our company discovery here, worldwide.
By Managing Partner Mike Edelhart