30 Apr Why invest in tech?
My love of technology has always channeled my investment decisions. For me, the positive link between investing and tech is undeniable, and emerging tech is a particular area of interest.
I’m by no means alone in this, as data from around the world demonstrates. For example, in Africa in November 2019 alone, investors poured $400 million into fintech companies. By investing in disruptive tech start-ups across multiple sectors, and in a number of regions around the world, returns are assured, and a tangible impact is made.
Why I invest in tech across multiple sectors around the world
At the Emerald Group, we invest in technology across IT and software, artificial intelligence (AI), healthcare and retail, with an emphasis on supporting entrepreneurs and disruptive start-ups. Disruptive tech may be a relatively new buzzword, but it’s a concept that has been around forever. Any kind of major technological advance is disruptive. From the invention of the wheel to industrialized farming, disruptive technology has powered the world.
But from an investor’s perspective, disruptive technology doesn’t just improve society, it enhances returns on investment. We’re always looking for companies that offer time or cost saving technology that can make an immediate impact across an industry sector. These are the companies that will grow at an advanced rate and contribute positivity to wider society at the same time.
We’re keen to diversify our strategy and ensure that we don’t miss a worthwhile tech investment in several sectors. As business cycle investors, we use economic signals to ascertain the best opportunities, and allocate assets at strategic times. It’s common to see disruptive tech companies doing well in the early stages of the business cycle, as they did in 2008 and 2009. Our strategy is to get ahead of the curve by investing late in stage 4 but before recession kicks in.
And while the world navigates the challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping one step ahead of disruptive tech will continue to lead our investment strategy. To show the breadth of our diversification, and the kinds of disruptive tech companies that we support, here are some of the businesses we invested in during 2019. It will be fascinating to see how these businesses develop over the next year.
- Omni:us – Berlin-based insurtech start-up
This start-up offers AI tools that have been developed to automate insurance claims documents. Claims handling is extremely labor intensive and involves many man hours with little financial reward. By providing AI as a Service (Alaas) for claims management, Omni:us aims to transform the insurance industry from being driven by processes to being data driven. Using Deep Learning and Computer Vision, the tech will free up valuable human resources to deal with tasks that add much greater value than claims processing.
- Red Sift – London-based cognitive data platform providing cloud-based security solutions
Red Sift offers award-winning cyber security systems using AI and machine learning. The company was founded in 2015 by Randal Pinto and Rahul Powar as a data-driven cybersecurity business. By using machine learning to synthesize and analyze core business data (such as email) it helps its global client base ramp up its online security.
- Signal AI – London-based media monitoring company powered by AI
Signal AI transforms how business leaders receive and make sense of information. Powered by AI, the business intelligence and media monitoring company aggregates and analyses data before presenting it to business leaders. They also provide insights into broadcast, digital and print media, regulatory and news data. Using cutting-edge machine learning, Signal AI enables businesses to track their clients, competitors and their own reputation.
- Tyk Technologies Ltd – Singapore and London-based API management platform
Tyke provides an API (application program interface) management platform that means companies can securely share data with third parties. It’s essentially a platform that sits in front of the API and is a single-entry point for all applications. It serves as a security and management layer between APIs and enables companies to harness their power on a massive scale.
- Snowplow – London-based real-time data collection service
The company aims to empower companies to use data to inform their decision making. By giving companies control of their data, they are then free from traditional constraints imposed by web analytics companies. The platform allows businesses to collect their granular event data directly, ask questions of that data and analyze it. Clients include the likes of Autotrader, The Economist, Capital One and Secret Escapes.
- Cloudsmith Ltd – Belfast-based cloud-native universal artefact service
Software platform for securing sharing and storing packages for companies all around the world. Package management is the overarching process of handling all the components of an application, server or developer (archives, tools, scripts, metadata, assets, datasets etc) in a secure location. Cloudsmith can then deploy artefacts for delivery pipelines, distribute licensing software to customers and control access to build and development pipelines.
- Lookiero – London-based online personal shopping service
Using data science, this online personal shopping service is for women only. The business offers combined expertise from personal stylists, uses detailed customer profiles and algorithms to create a look for the customer, and ships products directly to them. It currently ahs more than one million registered users across seven countries, and between 2017 and 2018 grew its revenue by 200%.
- Ably – London-based serverless infrastructure provider for real time Internet apps
Ably provides APIs and cloud infrastructure to build real-time features including live maps, notifications and chat. Consumers and businesses increasingly want online experiences to happen in real time, whether that’s messaging, collaborative work or content consumption. Ably can solve the complex challenges related to building and maintaining a fast, reliable, scalable data stream network.
- Masabi – London and US-based global leader in SaaS ticketing for public transit
Masabi is a leading software as a service (SaaS) company providing mobile ticketing to public transit companies. It started in 2007 with the first ever mobile ticketing app in the UK for Chiltern Railways. Since then the company has revolutionized the way the global transport industry views and deals with ticketing. Masai simplifies ticketing and streamlines fare collection, management and validation for transport providers across all modes of public transport all around the world. They are leading the move away from cash and physical tickets.
- Current Health – Scottish start-up offering AI powered patient management
Originally launched as a clinical pilot in August 2016, and previously called Snap40, the platform initially aimed to enable hospitals to monitor at-risk patients away from hospitals. It has expanded to also monitor patients after discharge and for clinical trials. Using AI-enabled wearable devices, the platform actively and continuously tracks the patient’s health data in order to pro-actively detect problems and alert healthcare providers. Currently, 13 of the biggest healthcare systems in the UK and the US (including Dartford & Gravesham NHS Trust and Mount Sinai) use Current Health to monitor their patients and improve care.