Retail, healthcare, and manufacturing will use AI and robots to thrive in the new touchless, socially distanced economy.
I had a great conversation with Anis Uzzaman, CEO and General Partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures in San Jose. Pegasus has invested in 170 companies like SpaceX, 23 and Me, Bird, Airbnb, and Quibi. They’ve had 30 exits and 140 are active.
Pegasus focuses on early-stage and more established start-ups with revenue. They are operating with a Venture Capital-as-a-Service (VCaaS) model where they partner with 35 global corporations who run corporate innovation through Pegasus. Global corporate partners include AISIN Seiki, a member of Toyota Group that manufactures automotive parts, and ASUS, a Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics corporation.
Early-stage concepts are typically at the prototype stage and more than 30 came out of Ycombinator. This gives Pegasus an opportunity to meet the founders and learn about their agility and grit. More advanced start-ups with customers and revenue are evaluated based on the traction they are getting with download, users, revenue, and alliance partners.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone is scared, frozen in place, and unsure what action to take. A big shift for Pegasus has been deciding to fund companies and management teams without meeting with them. About the same time as the pandemic, the value of SoftBank investments, WeWork and Uber, have plummeted. SoftBank drove valuations beyond reason and destroyed the VC ecosystem. Since the downturn, Anis is seeing more accurate valuations with declines in the 15 to 30% range.
Post Covid-19, Anis sees a lot of opportunities in different industries and sectors:
E-commerce with touchless delivery enables everyone to stay safe and continue practicing social distancing.
Robot-based home delivery - executing the last-mile, the most challenging part of the delivery (Starship and Nuro).
Touchless/contactless retail check-in and check-out which enable all retailers to provide an AmazonGo-like experience (Standard Cognition, Aifi, and Zippin).
Telemedicine/telehealth to meet with health-providers virtually (98point6, Amwell, Sense.ly, and Alodokter).
Online education to engage children while they’re at home (Outschool).
Automation, AI, and robotics in manufacturing will be necessary as countries desire to secure their supply chain and don’t have enough people to do all the work (Kindred).
AI in drug development will accelerate development and speed time to market for vaccines and prescription drugs.
Esports for digital events and platforms as traditional sports attendance evolves and declines.