Here are some areas of innovation we’ve been talking about recently. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Cybersecurity: Edge solutions
Cloud Native Security Solutions
As businesses continue migrations from onprem to cloud, enterprise network security remains a challenge. We’ve seen zero trust network access becoming widely adopted as well as the continued focus on secure access service edge (SASE) solutions. What new gaps will be revealed and how will consolidation of tools impact growth and innovation in this arena?
IOT and Operational Technology (OT) Security
The growing number of edge devices has exponentially increased the attack surface for organizations. Through the implementation of sensors and devices and continual modernization of industrials, manufacturing, and energy sector, security is needed more than ever to ensure resilience to threats. What technology solutions at the intersection of hardware and software can keep the people, machines, and critical infrastructure safe?
With the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018 and the recent CHIPS Act, the US has committed to broadening its focus on R&D and eventually commercialization of quantum technologies. What advancements in quantum infrastructure will lay the groundwork for the earliest adopters in pharmaceuticals, financial services, or telecommunications? What software solutions will help democratize access to quantum computers?
Security for AI/ML models
Similar to the proliferation of open source code usage in enterprise software and the need to identify and fix security vulnerabilities (i.e. Snyk). We will need the same for open source AI models.
Applications for AI/ML
Vertical Process Automation
There is tremendous ongoing opportunity to automate repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing people to do higher level thinking and creative work. Many technologies fit into this bucket, including robotics and next-generation SaaS solutions with a heavy focus on seamless data integrations and intelligence built in. There is also an opportunity for vertical RPA solutions to serve major legacy software use cases that are common across an industry with a out-of-the box RPA solutions.
HR Tech: Advances in Collaborative Learning
Immersive Training and Guidance
Immersive training, whether it’s a simulation of a difficult conversation with a colleague or a 3D experience of performing surgery, is a highly effective way to learn. This kind of training has been historically expensive to create, but generative AI, including the just released Point-E 3D generative model, has the potential to dramatically reduce the time and skill required for content development.
While not a substitute for formal learning and training, there’s an important role to play in technologies that provide in-context, just-in-time guidance to workers. This is a concept Emergence Capital has coined as “Coaching Networks” and written brilliantly on. In addition to the AI-based solutions, we’re also interested in solutions that dramatically scale the capacity and reach of remote human experts.
Hiring for and Managing Skills
There has been a significant shift in the HR and learning market toward skills, with many of the industry leaders like Workday, Cornerstone, and Degreed investing heavily in skills taxonomies and tools to assess or infer skills using AI. There will be room to compete for companies that find innovative ways to assess skills and match talent, particularly for harder to measure soft skills that could be challenging or even problematic to infer from easily accessible data (e.g., resume, LinkedIn).
Upskilling and employee enablement
New approaches to how we train and upskill workers to create broader opportunity and keep up with the rapidly changing demand for skills.
Unlocking (global) commerce
Upgrades to financial flows
To sum it up, embedded finance, simplification and expansion. Today, one of the main barriers to global financial freedom is dissimilarity in financial and regulatory systems. This prevents market expansion and financial participation. Imagine if your SaaS solution could automatically be compliant and functional to offer services globally without a lift? Or, if you could buy a residential property overseas without the burdensome paperwork?
Conversational & curated commerce
One way for ecomm to truly become the default way to purchase goods both large and niche is to outperform the personalized, one-on-one brick & mortar experience. When it comes to offering a personalized experience, some e-retailers have begun to offer chat recommendations and conversational commerce but this hasnt become mainstream. Secondly, endless scrolling and the sheer amount of overwhelming options reduces conversion. Personalized experiences for shoppers, powered by AI, will simplify the purchasing and recommendation process.
Recommerce & the returns loop
We’ve learned a lot about the waste generated in this space over the past 5 years working with the founders of our portco GoodBuy Gear, a marketplace for gently used baby and kids gear. Several marketplaces and enablement solutions have emerged to solve for this burgeoning market. We’re actively looking for startups solving for each slice of this logistically complex conundrum.
There are a lot of really smart technologists, including Boulder’s own Matt Butcher of Fermyon, who believe that WebAssembly (WASM for short) is “the next wave of cloud computing” because it solves some real problems around performance, security, and interoperability. While it’s still early days for the WASM ecosystem, we have been tracking some really interesting startups leveraging this technology across a wide variety of applications and looking for areas where WASM enables capabilities that weren’t possible before.
New Approaches to “Shift Left”
As cloud tooling has gotten more complex and DevOps talent scarcer, a number of approaches have emerged to abstract, simplify, automate, and put more control in the hands of the developer. Broadly, we’re talking about the “shift left” movement that’s been happening for some time. One interesting newer approach is the internal developer platform (IDP) – a combination of tools and technologies forming a self-service layer for developers that increases velocity and reduces the load on an overburdened DevOps team. Sophisticated cloud native companies have been building IDPs internally and now out-of-the-box IDPs have become commercially available.
Infrastructure from Code
A framework that takes your application code and converts it to cloud resources automatically.
Are you building an early stage startup in this space? Reach out! And, if we haven’t covered your sector of focus, that doesn’t mean we’re not interested.