How we rejected the startup despite its promising roadmap

Ventures don't come to us easily. Usually it's a 3-step hard work - find a startup, pre-evaluate it, score it under 220 parameters, bring it to an interview, approve it at the investment committee.

At the investment committee on February 26, we rejected the startup after the 2nd stage of scoring. The project team is creating an AI-based live translator for real-time communication in any language, which also transcribes the conversations after they end and saves the text in your personal account.

This is an interesting case study because

🔹 we initially found the project interesting

🔹 the startup has traction and a working MVP

🔹 there is a huge online translation market and a clear target audience

🔹 the startup team is decent

🔹 we didn't find any other red flags.

However, we didn't accept the startup into the fund. We concluded that there was too much competition in this particular industry. And only one that unique feature of saving transcription is not killing enough. Giants like Microsoft and Google would be rolling it out in a week's time if they wanted to.

And as it turns out, they already have 😄

👉 On December 14, 2022, Microsoft-owned Skype released the Real-Time Translation feature - translating live human speech on the fly, right while talking.

The other day, our COO Ilya Klinkin made a call via Skype (yes, the service is still alive and quite handy for international calls) and made sure that the feature is available. It is not as fast and native as ChatGPT yet, but we think that OpenAI will be coming to Skype in the near future. We'll see where the online calling industry lands in a year or so — Skype powered by OpenAI could easily be back in the fight with Zoom and Google Meet.

In our CRM we called this reason for rejection "Google Quick Deployment Risk". This is when giants like Google, Microsoft, or others can roll out updates to their current products, add the missing new feature, and kick out the startups that raised the money and believed in the idea. There are exceptions like Zoom, but time will be the judge of that.


✅ It's right to say no to startups because of the "Google Quick Deployment Risk". Time shows that the giants are slow, yes. But as soon as they release the same features as the startups, the small, talented projects are dead in the water.

✅ Not all projects with an AI prefix should be invested in immediately, even if the trend is widespread. Dig deeper, evaluate risks and always DYOR

Fire if the post goes in🔥

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