At Episode 1 over half of our investments operate in the deeply technical domain – AI driven companies like Vector account for about half of such investments. We don’t look for businesses that are just using AI, we look for businesses that are breaking boundaries in AI and, critically, have access to vast datasets required to train their AI. Vector AI is a perfect example of this.
Vector AI provides an infrastructure solution for any company on the planet that needs to process, structure and understand large volumes of repetitive paperwork automatically. Their initial focus is the logistics supply chain and logistics finance markets. Their platform allows for rapid data entry and management and, crucially for the industry, also proper auditing. Their first two enterprise customers, one of the world’s largest trade finance banks and one of America’s largest freight forwarding companies with a global footprint (the vast amounts of data).
Communication between companies involved in logistics supply chains and logistics finance industries is still manual and paper-based, requiring hundreds of thousands of data entry employees across the globe. Vector AI has developed an advanced form of OCR (Optical Character Recognition), NLP (Natural Language Processing – the technology that actually understand the words extracted by the OCR) and extraction algorithms that are able to read and understand complex, unstructured documents, including hand-writing and trade stamps. Importantly they’ve tied this into an entire workflow specifically designed for the logistics industry. Using Vector, clients can process paperwork 10x faster and for <25% of the cost of 100% human processing.
This is an 80B documents/year $2.7B opportunity for the company in trade finance and freight forwarding paperwork processing alone. The technology is more broadly applicable but these are the areas of focus today.
The real reason for the investment – James Coombes and Nisarg Mehta, the founder CEO and CTO.
James – a scientist (Imperial College biochemist) and MPA (Harvard) by academic training. An entrepreneur (a furniture startup in the US) and trade and commodities finance professional (10 years at BNP Paribas).
Nisarg – won a full scholarship from his Indian secondary school to Cambridge to read Engineering during which he was the only undergrad accepted into his Professor’s research group. He was accepted into the fiercely competitive Microsoft Research unit at Cambridge during his final summer where he worked on deep reinforcement learning and such was his performance that the team there agreed to supervise his thesis for which he was awarded a distinction. Nisarg has only worked at the cutting edge of AI and continues to break barriers in NLP accuracy at Vector. And of course, he attracts extremely qualified talent to work alongside him at Vector thanks to his expertise.
We are very excited to help Vector grow into a global leader in the logistics infrastructure market. We are investing alongside logistics specialists Dynamo, a US venture fund led by the inimitable Jon Bradford in Europe.