“Software Is Eating the World, but AI Is Going to Eat Software”JENSEN HUANG, CEO OF NVIDIA
Computing power and algorithm research have come to a point where software is capable of handling increasingly difficult tasks only humans could complete until recently. While artificial general intelligence is still far from achievable, applying modern AI techniques, such as deep learning, computer vision and natural language processing can make human-like or even super-human performance achievable in a scalable way. There are notable first successes in a handful of domains, but that’s just the beginning. We at Superangel believe that the true potential will be unlocked in the coming decade, disrupting almost every industry and creating several new ones.
We are especially interested in companies working with computer vision. Most decisions that can be done by a human using visual information, can potentially be done by software and cameras given enough data and computing power. That, in turn, also opens new opportunities in robotics and self-driving anything. We also expect to see breakthroughs soon in natural language understanding.
General willingness to accept bots and robots in one form or the other as workers, decreasing prices of computing power, and advancements in computer science are the main reasons why in the autumn 2019 call, Alpine House gives an edge to AI-focused startups.
We have been funding and building several AI-intensive companies at Superangel. Some of the notable ones in our family:
- Bolt — uses predictive models to improve services, estimate arrival times and find fair prices for rides.
- Veriff — uses image recognition, face comparison, and behaviour analysis for highly-automated identity verification.
- Snackable.ai — uses speech recognition and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to structure, index and summarise massive spoken audio libraries.
- Kea.ai — uses NLP to answer a restaurants customer calls and take orders automatically.
- ReportAuto — uses computer vision to detect scratches and damage during an automatic vehicle inspection.
- Hugo.legal — building a robot lawyer to provide affordable legal advice or to match with the right human lawyer.
What is Alpine House and how can we support startups working on AI?
Alpine House is an investment package on steroids, designed by partners of Superangel, who are successful entrepreneurs themselves and know how hard it is to build a successful company. Applying AI is not easy either and has extra challenges for startups. We think that Alpine House helps early-stage AI startups in Europe to overcome these challenges in 5 ways:
Startups applying AI typically need more time to develop tech and get traction. We commit for 12+ months to take your startup to the next major milestone and raise the next financing round. Startups receive personal coaching from a Superangel partner, who takes an active team member role for the entire period.
Billion dollar mentoring by Superangel partners and investors. Superangel is backed by successful entrepreneurs such as Martin & Markus Villig (Bolt), Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), Sten Tamkivi (Skype & Topia), Norris Koppel (Monese) and many more. They have been in your shoes and know how to build a unicorn, and many have built up amazing AI-intensive companies.
Experts & partner network helping with hiring, legal, finance, marketing, etc. This will let founders focus on the most essential aspects, hopefully make fewer mistakes and move faster. In particular, hiring AI talent can be difficult and expensive. Our HR experts know the tricks and are ready to jump in when needed. Throughout the program, there will be regular office hours & workshop sessions with great builders in the AI-space.
One-way-ticket to meet your customers. We believe in learning-by-doing. When ready we take you for a 4-week intensive customer development session to the San Francisco Bay Area or another major market. Office & housing covered. We help you to prepare so that when landing you already have meetings set up and you will get daily feedback and guidance from the Superangel team.
Computing power can become expensive when you need a lot of it. It has become affordable for many tasks and is improving every year, but more challenging tasks can incur a heavy cost. We have deals and credits from several computer providers to alleviate this cost.
The Alpine House program comes with an initial investment of up to €150k, depending on the stage and growth trajectory. We take 10% ownership in return for the program and investment. In addition, we reserve at least €500k for follow-on funding.
Before climbing the peak, there is Base Camp
To select the current cohort, we hold a 48-hour hackathon Base Camp on 27–29 September in Tallinn. This is valuable experience on its own.
Base Camp is an exclusive hackathon format, designed for early-stage startups that already have a working prototype and would like to join the 12-month Alpine House. During 48 hours they work on their existing product to advance it using guidance from Base Camp’s top-level mentor team. Also, many have found awesome new team-members among the individual applicants to Base Camp. All 24 startups who have participated so far have found it extremely useful.
This time we have invited to our team of mentors some of the brightest minds in the AI sphere such as Gholamreza Anbarjafari (Professor at Computer Vision Research Lab, University of Tartu), Kristjan Korjus (Head of Data, Starship), Markus Lippus (Data Science Lead, MindTitan) and Joonatan Samuel (Machine Learning Lead, Veriff).