By: Ben Freeberg
NewGen Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm supporting entrepreneurs who build globally disruptive, platform technologies with business models that have the potential to drive systemic change. NewGen believes that transformative innovation, through new technology or new processes, operates independently from economic cycles and easily translates across countries and cultures. The firm’s connections into Asian markets provide growth advantages for partnerships and expansion.
Led by technical founders, NewGen invests in emerging technology companies, helping entrepreneurs effectively work the venture capital industry. Lu Zhang and Homan Yuen work with their companies to help control funding pace (which doesn’t always perfectly correlate with product development) and perform valuation exercises before going back to market.
NewGen’s Investment Thesis is Centered Around Four Categories:
But NOT the smart home. Currently, there still exists tangible and immediate returns in operational, output, and financial productivity for businesses and organizations who deploy industrial-level IoT. However, rather than focusing on lowering the cost of sensors, the market seems ripe for applying IOT technology to increase efficiency and using machine learning to allow devices to talk to each other. This is highly applicable in the connected cars market. The idea of true connected mobility is what makes the potential for self driving cars so valuable. Traffic systems have to operate as a communicator between numerous cars and we need to create platform data technology to be ready for this transition.
NewGen is focused on helping support companies in cybersecurity and edge computing that are making networks faster, more efficient and more secure. They are on the lookout for companies who are pushing the frontier of computing applications in an effort to enable knowledge generation and analytics to occur at the source of the data.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Data is only as valuable as the actions and decisions made from it. This means that the massive amounts of data collected will need to be analyzed and presented in a manner that aids decision making. Machine Learning is the first step towards building true artificial intelligence. Today, Machine Intelligence still relies heavily on application technology, not necessarily pure innovation. Yet, as it develops and evolves, new processes and technologies will arise to take advantage of the analyses made.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) is one area that is tapping on this development, though some aspects of the technology still need to be developed. NewGen is on the lookout for strong technology that improves the current state of play for machine intelligence or applications that can tap into data analysis today and introduce it to an underserved market.
Lu’s experience running a medical device company has helped shape her team’s focus on how they invest in the digital health space. Her experiences showed her that, while the medical field has become more complex and advanced, medical treatment, processes and diagnosis processes have not necessarily advanced at the same rate. There are pockets of opportunities to introduce greater connectivity, integration and computational analysis for superior results. Again, here they are looking for strong tech applications that are trying to make processes in the healthcare industry quicker and more efficient.
How Does NewGen’s Portfolio Fit In?
Grubmarket, a farm-to-table food delivery service, is not just marketplace, it is also data analytics platform that is optimizing logistics and controlling operating costs for its suppliers. NewGen was the first institutional investor, having helped the founding team secure their next round of funding and developed their expansion strategy alongside them, including helping to secure a partnership with Alibaba in an effort to increase global expansion.
Fido.ai is a natural language processing company that has developed a new type of symbolic AI that understands language to the extent where it can read and understand for you. Having co-invested in Fido.ai with NEA, NewGen assisted the team with market penetration and developing additional application use cases. They also played a large role in Fido’s fundraising strategy and helped them to efficiently grow their team, which as former entrepreneurs, NewGen has thought a lot about.
Bluefox provides real-time, actionable traffic analytics for retailers and brands, and is currently partnered with the likes of Pepsi and McDonald’s. Bluefox fits right into NewGen’s industrial IOT investment thesis in the sense of connectivity, giving brands and retailers the data and analysis they are looking for in real time. In addition, NewGen was the first institutional investor into Bluefox, which is led by serial entrepreneurs.
Thank you to Lu Zhang and NewGen for helping us put together this post.