If there’s one thing I have learned in my 30+ years as an investor in startups, it’s that you must give yourself a set of ground rules to adhere to – your investment manifesto. At Brightspark, we outline a set of “non-negotiable” criteria that guide our investments, and I believe it’s been a key factor to our success. The main criteria of selection will always be a team that we firmly “believe in”, and we distilled this rule over the years–along with lessons learned the hard way–to usually only invest in repeat entrepreneurs. Our manifesto also includes investing in markets that we think are at the right stage for investment.
Many years ago, when Brightspark first started out, we made the mistake of investing in exciting markets that were on the cusp of flourishing—but not fully established yet. The problem is that our speculations were often incorrect, and the market either never flourished (RFID) or only emerged after a few more years (mobile enterprise). Meanwhile, the companies found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and ran out of money. Learning from these experiences, we decided to only invest in markets where customers were already spending meaningful dollars, and markets that were already sprouting. This means that Brightspark often passes on interesting startups and ideas, but we don’t suffer from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) because we believe that if a market is real, there will be many opportunities.
This brings me to Artificial Intelligence (AI). I have been watching this market closely for a few years and have been curiously waiting to see when–and if–it would flourish. The Brightspark team and I continued to be diligent about our manifesto and held off investing in startups with an AI focus until we believed the market was “ready”.
…and that time is now! Recently, we signed a term sheet that celebrates Brightspark’s very first investment in an AI startup.
The company is called CrowdCare and is based in Toronto. CrowdCare fits all of our investment criteria (team, tech, real customers, etc.), AND it has a product presence that we find compelling: Most AI investment opportunities are in pure technology, toolkits and solutions but CrowdCare offers more.
They have the same, advanced technology BUT also–and this is the kicker-own four years of data and information. This provides a huge advantage since the Bot’s learning is the key to delivering personalized answers. Their platform, called Wysdom, understands over 80,000 customer questions- having already analyzed over a million questions - and already results in over 57% of customer inquiries being answered by the automated system. They started with a focus on Telco customer service, one of today’s biggest pain points and area of opportunity. Plus, it has built up a full-fledged customer care solution for enterprises. All of these factors places CrowdCare in the enviable position of having a solution that is proven AND makes it extremely difficult for potential competitors in this crowded tech market to easily catch up.
CrowdCare is unlike any other AI startup we have seen. We are finally in a position to invest in the AI market —but still believe that only the mature, data-rich companies have the value opportunity we are comfortable with.
Want to invest in CrowdCare alongside Brightspark?
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