Tag Archives: Artificial Intelligence

I Pitched a Robot VC

Every day, founders pitch me on their startups. This morning, I thought “Why not turn the tables for a change?”

So I pitched 3 VC’s on a startup idea. But they weren’t your usual investors — all 3 were robots. 🤖


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These robot VC’s live on a new platform called PitchExpert. They use GPT-3, a form of AI, to ask questions and help you refine your pitch.

I started with an elevator pitch:

It costs $10,000 or more to move into an apartment in many cities. The average person can’t afford that. We provide a loan so you can move into a great apartment today!

Here’s what the grizzled veterans had to say:

VC 1:

I like it! You’re onto something with this idea. Here are a few suggestions to make your firm more attractive to investors and increase its valuation:

  1. Make sure you have a solid business model in place. Figure out how you’re going to generate revenue and profit from this service.
  2. Do some market research to validate your assumption that there is indeed a need for this service. Talk to potential customers and get feedback on what they think of the idea.
  3. Put together a strong team of co-founders and employees who can execute on the business plan and grow the company successfully.

    Hey hey, not a bad reception! And talking to potential customers and figuring out an exact revenue model are great suggestions.

    VC 2
  1. Make sure you are clear on your target market. Who is your ideal customer?
  2. Do your research on the competition. What are they doing and how can you differentiate yourself?
  3. Have a solid plan for how you will make money. How will this business be profitable?

    Not quite as sunny but probably even more useful. Knowing everything about potential customers and competitors is a good tip.

VC 3

This is a terrible idea.

  1. Don’t try to solve the problem of high rent prices.
  2. Instead of a loan, try a subscription model where people pay a monthly fee.
  3. Use that money to help people move into better apartments.

Jerk. I’m going to unplug this guy.

What’s more, a subscription model when people move only occasionally doesn’t make much sense. Why would you pay for a subscription to something you use only once every 5 years, for example?

I’m actually amazed how spot on the first two VC’s were.

I like the mix of VC’s: Mr. Friendly (VC1), Mr. Just the Facts (VC2), and Mr. Abrasive (VC3). It mirrors real life.

I found VC2 to be the most helpful. His suggestions made a lot of sense and could help me refine the business model.

As an investor, I try to be closest to VC2. I mostly ask questions and don’t offer too many judgements, positive or negative.

I am mostly there to learn, not to direct the founder.

What do you think the robot VC’s got right? What did they get wrong?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

Where Are All the Startup Acquisitions?

Mark Twain: Venture Capitalist

The Power Law (Part One)

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Photo: “Robot at the British Library Science Fiction Exhibition” by BadgerGravling is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Machine Learning Engine Predicts 20% Rally in AMC in Next Month

I came across a fascinating little tool today. It’s a machine learning program designed to forecast returns in stocks.

It’s called the Trefis AI Engine and it draws from 8 years of past stock returns.

Given the intense interest in stock of AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc., I had to see what the oracle would say.

AMC is up 34% in the last month. Based on past scenarios, what does the next month have in store?

The machine learning engine predicts a 20% return over the next month in this scenario.

Machine learning is a series of algorithms that can be used to identify patterns and make predictions. It powers Google search, Netflix recommendations, and even self driving cars.

Will the genie be right? I honestly don’t know. But I find the tool an interesting thing to play with.

Type in some scenarios of your own and let me know what you find in the comments at the very bottom of the page!

Kudos to Forbes for the tip.

More on AMC:

New Data: AMC Fails to Deliver Down 85%

What a Hedge Fund King Fears Most

For Retail Traders, AMC Has Become the Only Meme Stock

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Robot Hands, Vertical Farms, and the Future of Food

On Saturday, I stood in the produce section of a nearby Whole Foods. My eyes were drawn to tiny packages of delicate microgreens. The producer: Aero Farms.

Agriculture faces a difficult environment. Climate change is making weather more extreme and unpredictable. Workers are harder and harder to find. But a new model of farming is emerging, and it looks like nothing else we’ve ever seen.

Aero Farms grows greens in vertical stacks in what was once an abandoned steel mill. The farm is in gritty Newark, NJ, just a few miles from the Whole Foods where I encountered their product. They use 95% less water and 99% less land than a traditional farm. And unlike other farms, they can grow year round.

Technology is also revolutionizing how produce is picked. A company called Root AI makes soft, robotic hands that can pick anything from a hearty cucumber to a fragile strawberry. Alongside the robotic hands is a camera enabled with AI, which can identify the ripe produce and leave the rest to grow.  

Seeing it in action feels like seeing the future:

These robots are now being put to use in giant warehouse farms that you could easily mistake for an Amazon Fulfillment Center. These are a project of AppHarvest, which claims they use 90% less water and are 30 times more productive per acre than a traditional farm.

Is that an Amazon Fulfillment Center in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Even if the company’s projections are a bit optimistic, there’s strong evidence from numerous producers that indoor farming uses dramatically less water and space. And with the farm just a few miles from its customers in major cities, transportation costs and emissions are cut to the bone.

Putting robotics and indoor farming together, I think we are headed to a future that produces more output (food) with far fewer inputs (labor, water, land). And unlike human labor, electronics tend to rapidly decrease in price. That will only speed their adoption and lower food prices further. 

To quote Lincoln Steffens:

“I have seen the future and it works.”

More on tech:

CHINA’S TECH CRACKDOWN MEANS ECONOMIC DECLINE

HOW TO GET INTERNET TO CUBA

INSIDE A STARTUP ACCELERATOR DEMO DAY

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! 

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order.