Version One’s Year 2023 in Review

In our reflection last year, we described how our investment pace had slowed alongside the market. This year brought even more pull back and we invested in only two companies (more on them below). Throughout this time, we continue to keep our focus on investing in outlier talent, with big missions in emerging areas. And, we ask ourselves the same essential questions…Why this mission-driven team? Why now?

To recap the year, here are some of 2023’s biggest themes for Version One:

1) Building in AI

While still early in the AI wave, we’re seeing not only technological innovation but also business model transformation. Boris wrote about how the most powerful disruptions occur when a technology disruption and a business model disruption go hand in hand… first the Internet, then the cloud, crypto and now AI. When this happens, it creates an extremely beneficial environment for incumbents. 

Ada is the most notable AI company in the V1 family, but many others – like Dabble, Jam and Pickle Robot – are creatively using AI in their products.  

2) Building in India

Back in May, Boris took V1’s first trip to India and wrote about his reflections. Many of the talented entrepreneurs and engineers who left India to study and work in the US and Canada, are now coming back to India and building incredible companies. This dynamic is truly accelerating the learning curve in India. We’re hopeful that crypto will see a broader set-up in India over time. It’s still in the very early stages there, but there is definitely an enthusiastic community to build on.

3) Building in deeper tech

While we might not be domain experts or hardcore researchers/academics, we do love bold ventures (some might call “moonshots”) with even bolder founders at the helm where there is an opportunity for transformational change of an industry altogether. These companies typically move atoms as well as bits, and while they might not fit the traditional VC model (i.e. more capital intensive, more technical risk), they certainly excite us with potential to go from zero to one, especially when there is a clear GTM strategy. For example, we invested in a “Illumina for proteomics” this year (yet to be announced). 

And, of course we’re still excited about crypto, climate/energy and healthcare. On healthcare, we were inspired by Peter Attia’s book on longevity called Outlive and invested in a startup that is working on democratizing preventative medicine.

4) Building pre-seed companies

As we reflect upon our own sweet spot of “backing mission-driven founders at the earliest stages,” one important point of clarity is that this truly means at inception or pre-seed. When we think about where we as V1 have done our best work for entrepreneurs, it has been in the first round of financing for companies and those that are early to new sectors.

If you’re enthusiastic about any of these themes as an entrepreneur (or for swinging for the fences), there is no such thing as TOO early. Please reach out. Or if you’re an investor or operator who is up for comparing notes, we’d love to chat!

Lastly, we wish to thank everyone who has been a part of the Version One community this year…especially to our portfolio founders who continue to push forward despite market tailwinds. If there’s any doubt of their passion and talent, check out the many accolades and launches over the year (Q1, Q2, Q3, and our Q4 review to follow in a few weeks).

And thank you to our LPs, peers, partners, entrepreneurs, friends, followers, and our families for their support!

Best wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season. See you in 2024!

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