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TechCrunch+ roundup: Psychedelics VC survey, how to run an AI pilot, Europe’s robotics renaissance


In professional sports, player-coaches can be extremely effective: Celtics center Bill Russell won two NBA championships between 1966 and 1969.

A recent study suggests that this principle also applies to venture capital. “Recent data from AngelList, collected for Flex Capital, shows that the founder-led funds raised through its platform outperformed the other funds raised on AngelList,” reports Rebecca Szkutak.

“The reality is that we all have something different in our lives that we are passionate about,” said Jeff Lu, general partner at Flex Capital. “CEOs with dual threat, their hobby is investing. At the same time, the experience makes them better CEOs and investors.”

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“However, it is important to note that female founders are largely left out of this trend,” Rebecca writes.

“While having these side gigs by VCs is largely seen as a positive for male founders, several female founders have told TechCrunch+ that they don’t get the same luxury. In fact, they are discouraged.”

Thank you very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+
@your protagonist

How to Prevent AI Commoditization: 3 Tactics for Running Successful Pilot Programs

Image Credits: Unknown (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

Companies looking for AI-powered business solutions have many more options to choose from than they did just a few months ago. But where are startups trying to differentiate their offerings?

“The real moat is a combination of AI models trained on proprietary data, as well as a deep understanding of how an expert performs their day-to-day tasks to solve nuanced workflow problems,” said Chaitanya Vaidya, co-founder of Deeprisk.ai.

In this TC+ article, he shares three methods AI startups can use to manage iterative pilot programs that create customer satisfaction by studying user behavior.

Exploiting deep relationships with customers in your domain is a simple, yet effective tactic, writes Vaidya.

Europe could be on the brink of a golden age in robotics. This is why.

3D rendered two robotic arms manufacture euro sign as an abstract concept on yellow background

Image Credits: photo man (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

While the pandemic accelerated our shift to automation, funding for robotics startups worldwide has dwindled.

Last year, investors dropped nearly $8.5 billion in the sector – a 42% drop from 2021 levels, with the biggest cuts coming from China and the US, where USD investment volume has “popped by more than 50%” was lowered, according to a report from Picus Capital.

However, across Europe, funding only fell by “5% over the same period”. In a study shared with TC+, the company analyzed “some key trends driving the continent’s recent power play in the robotics market,” including increased demand and a strong education pipeline.

“Although it is still early days, we are convinced that this is just the beginning of how Europe is finally starting to find its place within the modern robotics ecosystem.”

Onboarding and automation: what fintechs can learn from big banks

a perspective shot looking down the corridor of an airport jetway

Image Credits: To sell (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

Onboarding a new fintech user presents a unique set of challenges: you need to capture and verify their personal information, while teaching them how to use your service and getting them to stay engaged.

Keeping new customers informed is essential, “but in an economic downturn it becomes doubly so,” said Michael Beckley, CTO of Appian.

“Investors are quickly losing patience with startups unable to deliver growth and margin as regulators crack down on risk across the financial industry.”

Funding for women in climate technology is pathetic. What can be done about it?

Illustration of women amidst foliage.

Image Credits: Atlas Studio / venimo (composite) / Getty Images

It’s common knowledge that the scales tip heavily to favor men when it comes to start-up funding, and climate technology is no exception.

According to Crunchbase, the amount of venture capital going to female founders fell from 8.9% in 2022 to 6.9% in the first quarter of 2023.

“We shouldn’t discriminate between women and men if we want to provide a platform for a huge problem like climate innovation,” says founder Kruppa Raghuraman.

11 investors predict a colorful, albeit difficult, future for psychedelic startups



SaaS startups generally benefit from loose regulation, but for companies working to mainstream psychedelics, the struggle is real.

While consumer attitudes are changing, they still have to navigate a complicated path under the watchful eye of health authorities and law enforcement.

Decriminalization opens doors for startups working with cannabis, psilocybin, ketamine and other substances, but how are investors approaching this space?

Anna Heim surveyed some of them to find out more about what they are looking for, their long-term approach to the industry and how they prefer to be pitched:

  • Sa’ad Shah, Managing Partner, Noetic Fund
  • Ryan Zurrer, founder and director; Ozan Polat, partner; and Daniel Tarockoff, partner; Vine Enterprises
  • Tim Schlidt, co-founder and partner, Palo Santo
  • Amy Kruse, chief investment officer, Satori Neuro
  • Clara Burtenshaw, Associate, Neo Kuma Ventures
  • Greg Kubin and Matias Serebrinsky, general partners, PsyMed Ventures
  • Bek Muslimov and Nikolay Tretiyakov, co-founders, Leafy Tunnel

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