Arbonics

Arbonics

Type: Climate & Energy

Investor: Taavet Hinrikus

Website: www.arbonics.com

What is the mission?

Arbonics was founded to help landowners become a powerful ally in combating climate change – by storing millions of tons of CO2 in forests and protecting biodiversity. But to make this happen, landowners need someone in their corner. With the help of Arbonics’ flexible data models and deep understanding of voluntary carbon markets, we help landowners realise the positive climate impact of their land, and build the new forest economy.

Who are the founders?

Kristjan Lepik has been building tech companies for a while, most recently at Teleport (acq by Topia) building tech solutions that help people with relocation. Being an active speaker on future trends, he became intrigued about how we could manage forests differently if landowners could get paid not only for timber, but also for the value the forests provide for the planet. Hence the practical dream of the New Forest Economy.

Lisett Luik has run ops for a D2C company backed by Index Ventures, helped American Express acquire startups as part of the strategy team, and invested in tech companies with Plural’s Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi. With a background in economics and a business degree from Yale, she is most excited about the opportunity to help carbon markets become more transparent and fair for all.

Why did Taavet get involved?

I’ve been digging deep into climate over the last few years. As with many others, the current course of the planet worries me. But I am an engineer at heart so on the other hand, I’m curious about how we can use technologies to improve this mess.

It is impressive to see how many new companies are being created in the climate tech space. In many ways this is still a Wild West – it’s early and the visibility is not great. But as an investor, it feels like the right time to roll up my sleeves and get involved.

Arbonics grew out of conversations we had with Kristjan and Lisett over many months – about how we can value nature better and enable it to help combat climate change. I’m excited to have been a part of the journey since Day 0, and to continue supporting the team.

Certific

Certific

Type: Healthcare

Investor: Taavet Hinrikus

Website: www.certific.co/gb

What is the mission? 

Certific’s mission is to reduce physician admin and elevate patient care. It removes time-consuming, repetitive tasks from the physician’s workload to ensure they spend their time where it matters. Born from the need for remote testing during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has since evolved and offers a real chance to improve the state of medical services.

Who are the founders?

CEO Liis Narusk is the kind of operational leader who gets sh*t done. Her background is in banking and innovation management, leading innovation at SEB Bank before starting her own innovation consultancy in 2016. She has since helped international corporations to develop their ideas from concept to market-ready prototypes, innovating legacy systems and bringing breakthrough ideas to life.

Co-founder Dr Jack Kreindler is a physician, medical technologist and researcher. He has been instrumental in the design, architecture and leadership of a number of healthcare ventures, including CHHP, Sentrian and SafeMMA. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow of Imperial College London, where he works on AI and computational modelling for public health risk prediction.

Why did Taavet get involved?

I started working with Liis and Dr Jack during the Covid pandemic and this led the three of us to become founders of Certific – putting out combines experience of technology, innovation and medicine to work towards a goal of a more efficient medical system. Starting with trusted remote diagnostics and patient care, we need many elements to make remote medicine come alive. And we need remote medicine to make more efficient use of our scarce resources.

Conjecture

What is the mission?

Conjecture is a startup dedicated to applied and scalable AI Alignment research. If humanity creates a machine that is more intelligent than us – Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – there is a real risk that it is not aligned with our preferences as humans. AI Alignment is the attempt to embed human preferences into a generally intelligent agent.

Who are the founders?

Connor Leahy, CEO, previously co-founded open-source non-profit lab EleutherAI. Gabriel Alfour and Sidney Black, COO and CTO respectively, are leading researchers in large language model (LLM) safety.

Why did Ian get involved?

AI alignment remains a major unsolved challenge. It requires major technical and scientific breakthroughs and will potentially be a major enabler of progress across the field. All else being equal, we would prefer to use safer and more aligned models so alignment will likely become a key feature of advanced AI systems.

Feather

Feather

Type: Fintech

Investor: Taavet Hinrikus

Website: feather-insurance.com

What is the mission?

Feather is building insurance products that just work. Honest, simple insurance as they say themselves. Insurance plans are complicated, but they don’t have to be. Feather has built their products and their own recommendation tool to let you know which insurances you need and which ones simply don’t make sense.

Who are the founders?

Vincent Audoire joined N26 as one of the first iOS Engineers – at this time the whole company would still fit in one room. He built the early version of the app and recruited a high performing team leading to what N26 is today. Before that he worked in various startups between Paris and Berlin. He also founded another company and has an engineering degree in scientific computation.
Rob Schumacher holds a PhD from the department of actuarial science – the mathematics behind insurance – from Bayes Business school. Before Feather, he consulted several leading European insurers on transforming their core IT with McKinsey to (try to) enable a better digital experience. And like Vincent he also tried starting a company before.

Why did Taavet get involved? 

I like re-inventing industries and I’m attracted to people who want to do that. First I was part of building Skype from the idea on the back of the napkin to hundreds of millions of users. Then built Wise from two founders (without a dog) to thousands of employees and a profitable business. You need a product that is 10x better to do that successfully. Insurance is one of the remaining financial industries where this change is still not complete. Rob and Vincent have been building Feather in a great way – they bootstrapped at first and only when they realised that they have a working model they decided to start scaling it. I’m excited to see how far they can take this and support them on the way!

Field

Field

Type: Climate & Energy

Investor: Taavet Hinrikus

Website: www.field.energy

What is the mission?

Field is accelerating the build-out of renewable energy infrastructure by developing, building, and optimising the grid-scale energy infrastructure needed to tackle these challenges. Starting with battery storage sites – these are big batteries with a big job. They allow us to store huge amounts of renewable energy for when it’s needed, creating a more reliable, flexible and greener grid. First 20MW site is live in the UK as of 2022.

Who is the founder?

Amit Gudka spent 8 years trading electricity and gas at Barclays which is where he started to appreciate the basics of energy supply and demand. Next he co-founded a green energy supplier making it easy for people to get green energy in their homes. The only logical step after this was to go into increasing the supply of green energy which is what Field does. And this led Amit to the realisation about his mission to make the transition to renewable energy happen.

Why did Taavet get involved?

To reach net zero, we need the biggest global transition of energy infrastructure ever seen, in the shortest amount of time. That’s a huge challenge and huge potential for impact. Besides building and operating assets, Field is also creating their own technology platform which allows them to be more flexible and make the most use of the assets. Working with Amit and Field we can accelerate the transition process and that what motivates me.

Isometric

Isometric

Type: Climate & Energy

Investor: Khaled Helioui

Website: isometric.com

What is the mission?

Isometric’s independent platform uses scientifically rigorous measurement and verification technology to confirm when carbon removal takes place. The world needs to remove an average of 10 gigatonnes of CO2 a year from the atmosphere by 2050 to reach global net zero goals but it can be extremely difficult to verify how much carbon removal has taken place. Isometric helps the world’s biggest companies transition away from buying worthless carbon offsets and towards  building the trust required to purchase carbon removal in order to drive meaningful corporate climate action. 

Who is the founder?

Isometric founder and CEO Eamon Jubbawy has spent over a decade building one of the most respected verification companies in the world with Onfido (digital ID verification). Having scaled the business to over $100m of ARR, he is using his expertise to verify carbon removal. The wider Isometric team includes Head of Science Elizabeth Troein Ph.D. (MIT, Princeton and Columbia) and Head of Engineering Ola Sitarska (Shopify and Onfido). The engineering team comprises specialists from companies including Palantir, Meta and Intercom. 

Why did Khaled get involved?

Tackling systemic risks has always been one of my core areas of focus (alongside reducing opportunity gap) and I started investing in startups tackling climate change back in 2016 (backing Pachama and NextProtein). I’ve always been struck by the lack of transparency & ability to genuinely verify offsets and saw first hand how it has been one of the main friction points preventing us from properly scaling our investments to avoid the looming climate disaster. Eamon is one of the most impressive founders I have backed & his growth as a founder and builder went beyond all my expectations. Seeing him shift his focus and drive to tackle one of the most important missions of our generation, leveraging his learnings at Onfido to structure rigorous measurement and verification processes in the nascent CDR space, there was no question for me but to back him and support him in making his vision happen.

Koos

Koos

Type: Web3

Investor: Sten Tamkivi

Website: koos.io

What is the mission?

Koos builds a proper way to say thank you to your supporters: a blockchain based platform to take record of your community and your future promise to them, and eventually distribute tokens with your gratitude to your supporters.

Koos mints and custodies tokens, handles smart contracts with recipients, provides full legal, tax and accounting support, handles customer support and KYC, orchestrates buy-back and burns and takes care of privacy on the blockchains.

Who are the founders?

Taavi Kotka is one of the most high profile people in Estonian tech and a unique global figure in e-governance. As the first CIO of Estonia he created the e-Residency program, data embassies concept and other governance innovations most of the countries are still catching up to. Most recently he has been a personal advisor to Mukesh Ambani to up the Indian digital governance game on Jio’s mobile networks. Coder and software architect by background, he has shipped software products at scale himself, and has hired hundreds of people into his teams. He also has founded and runs Unicorn Squad, a non-profit distributed technology program for a few thousand Estonian girls a year to get into tech. 

Why did Sten get involved?

We have been discussing the long term perspective of Plural platform involving into a DAO over time: once we have dozens of unemployables investing in the best companies in Europe and invested a financially well performing series of vintages, it would only make sense to take this further and make sure the founders in our network, occasional operators-advisors we bring in, and the widers startup community can partake in this success.

We are not building Plural to make the founders rich, but to have a GDP level impact on European economies. Broader community ownership leads to more meritocratic systems, where wealth is distributed more broadly in society based on a much wider mix of actual contributions, not just original capital put in (which not everyone can afford). This means we need to find or develop a mechanism to start distributing and tracking our future gains (“carry tokenization”) in fluid and low-bureaucracy ways.

I have been actively involved in crypto and blockchain technology development (bitcoin 2013, ICO boom of new protocols in 2017, DeFi 2019, NFTs 2020…) and have a strong belief distributed, programmable equity can and should be successfully implemented on top of this stack.

Koos has a super aligned vision, have figured out a few clever regulatory hacks, and sports an amazingly strong team to make this actually happen.

Mos

Mos

Type: Fintech

Investor: Khaled Helioui

Website: www.mos.com

What is the mission?

Tear down financial barriers to opportunity. Mos provides financial services that are tailored to students such as checking accounts, debit cards, peer-to-peer payments, access to financial aid advisors and the largest pool of scholarships in the U.S. 

Who are the founders?

Amira Yahyaoui’s life has been dedicated to giving a voice to the muzzled & fighting for the rights of the oppressed. Most notably in her home country of Tunisia where as a student she paid an unconscionable price for her vocal criticisms of the dictator Ben Ali, pursued her activism after being exiled and took an active part in the revolution that deposed the dictator before founding the only political watchdog in the Arabic World- Al Bawsala – that to this day monitors the local political activity to keep politicians accountable.

Why did Khaled get involved? 

Amira is uncommon among uncommon founders, from the moment I met her it was obvious she not only had groundbreaking potential but the kind of resolve & grit that can tilt the world in another direction. Opportunity gap reduction has been one of my guiding focuses as an investor, having been personally confronted with the gaping inequalities of education when I moved to France at 5 years old and being put in a class for challenged children with my brother as we were coming from Tunisia – I had not choice but to get involved and do everything I can to help her make her vision come true. 

I had been investing in education and financial inclusion for years and I know I could support her in thinking through the business models and operational frameworks needed to make her vision not only impactful locally but scalable.

NFTPort

NFTPort

Type: Web3

Investor: Sten Tamkivi

Website: www.nftport.xyz

What is the mission?

NFTPort enables developers to make the Internet ownable by citizens, through decentralized NFT infrastructure. 

NFTPort abstracts all the complexity of indexing, minting, searching, analysing NFTs into a unified API, to allow any NFT application layer developer to go to market faster, and not worry about re-building this infrastructure from scratch.

Eventually we dream of a broad use protocol for immutable and non-fungible data storage and organization. If in web2 world, customer’s data lives in Facebook and Amazon AWS and Microsoft cloud, etc (total market cap $4 trillion plus), in web3 the parallel to those would be decentralized protocols where users own their data directly. This “data stack” on web3 (NFTs, Filecoin, etc) is just 1% with $49B today.

Who are the founders?

Johannes Tammekänd and Kaspar Peterson. Before NFTPort, Johannes made an exit with Payload-Security to CrowdStrike and founded two AI-based startups. His blockchain experience dates back to 2014 while researching the security model of Tor and Bitcoin in NATO. Kaspar has been a technical co-founder alongside Johannes for already three startups. At our investment NFTPort invited a few late co-founders: Rain Johanson who previously held senior engineering roles at Skype, Microsoft, Wise, and is ex CTO of Bolt; Taivo Pungas, a former AI and data infrastructure lead at Veriff and Sten Tamkivi of Plural.

Why did Sten get involved?

I have been active in the crypto scene since 2013, decentralized finance from 2019 and NFTs since 2020. Out of these waves, the NFT market has definitely caught the public imagination, and non-technical user imagination the most, and at an unprecedented speed. No-one (including me) knows how exactly the application space plays out between early art, community and other experiments – so betting on the “picks and shovels” infrastructure seems like the perfect way to get involved.

I am also personally motivated by the prospect of building NFTPort into one of the first Web3 powerhouses from Europe, and especially from Estonia.

Numerade

What is the mission?

Numerade provides students with a short-form video education platform specifically targeting STEM problems. Their goal is to build a platform where every student in the world can have access to their own personalised tutor in an accessible and affordable manner.

Who are the founders?

Nhon, co-founder and CEO, is from LA. His parents originally emigrated to the US from Vietnam, finding refuge from the war. Growing up poor, he initially went to public school (LAUSD) where his grades got him a scholarship to attend private school. There, the gap in terms of access to education resources became tangible as most of his peers had private tutoring sessions completely out of reach for him and the childhood friends he grew up with. He shared the desire of upward mobility via education with his co-founder and CTO Alex, whom he met while working at Google (product role in programmatic ads).

Alex, co-founder and CTO, shares a similar story to Nhon and is the previous founder of two EdTech companies, HugeIQ and TutorCast.

Why did Khaled get involved?

Nhon and Alex’s story resonated with me as the feeling of injustice they dealt with while growing up is not theoretical to me. Being put in a class for challenged children with my brother when I moved to France at 5 years old, I understood far too well that the illusion of meritocracy our society struggles to maintain is a double-edged sword for most underprivileged kids.

Little can match the resolve of founders who leverage the scars inherited from their personal lives to fix a broken part of society. Beyond the uncommon level of resolve and drive of Nhon and Alex, their unique understanding of the challenges students without privilege face and their ability to build the most compelling content, in the relevant format, while scaling one of the largest audiences in the industry without real marketing spending was for me unprecedented, with over 10 years investing in EdTech companies.

There are no excuses to maintain or justify artificial barriers (unaffordable private tutoring) to education, and it was clear to me that it was not only the right model but the perfect team with the right kind of education to break these barriers and scale their impact globally.

Pesto

Pesto

Type: Fintech

Investor: Khaled Helioui

Website: www.getpesto.com

What is the mission?

Pesto aims to expand access to credit to the people most in need. Predatory lending often remains the only recourse for people failing to meet standard credit checks from financial institutions whose standards fail to leverage current technology nor available data. Pesto introduces a new model to provide credit by issuing credit cards for their customers following the receipt & appraisal of the item users provide as collateral.

Who is the founder?

Pesto was founded by James Savoldelli, a Stanford grad who became obsessed with his mission while studying, took on jobs at numerous pawnshops during covid, performed due diligence across 8 states and 4 countries, set up his own online pawnshop sometimes dealing with personal physical threats which only increased his resolution to see his mission through.

Why did Khaled get involved?

Access to finance is one of the most tangible expressions of opportunity gap. It is hard to reconcile that today, in the largest economy in the world, over 50% of people applying for credit cards in the United States get rejected. Standard forms of validation from major financial institutions are completely outdated and rule out huge swaths of the population, notably the most in need, from basic services we most take for granted. James not only displayed the drive, resilience, obsession but also creativity to come up with new financial incentives and rewire the parts of this economy that are broken so more people can be onboarded.

Proxima

Proxima

Type: Climate & Energy

Investor: Ian Hogarth

Website: www.proximafusion.com

What is the mission?

Proxima Fusion – the first ever spin-out from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) – is designing fusion power plants based on the stellarator concept, and its roadmap targets a first-of-a-kind fusion power plant within the 2030s. The project stands on the shoulders of IPP’s Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), which is by far the most advanced stellarator in the world  The opportunity to leverage fusion – the process that powers the stars – as a safe, clean, and abundant energy source has motivated academic research in this domain for decades. It will be one of the greatest breakthroughs of this century.

Who are the founders?

Proxima’s 5 co-founders are scientists and engineers from the Max Planck IPP, MIT, and Google-X. They are Francesco Sciortino (CEO), Jonathan Schilling (Head of Optimisation), Jorrit Lion (CSO), Lucio Milanese (COO), and Martin Kubie (Head of Engineering).

Why did Ian get involved?

I’ve always thought that fusion was one of the most incredible things that might happen within my lifetime. I remember playing SimCity as a kid and by the end of the game the highlight would be having the whole city running on fusion! Stellarators offer the most robust and clearest path to fusion energy, and the Proxima team has the energy and the speed that we need. They are ecosystem players, with a thrilling sense of ambition building on top of the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator – a masterpiece of German leadership. Europe needs the audacity of this team and their willpower to take on the fusion challenge and I couldn’t be more excited to partner with them.

Ready Player Me

What is the mission? 

Become “the Switzerland of avatar providers” and the “Facebook Login” button on every single metaverse application. RPM will be the trusted hodler of billions of dollars of virtual assets their users have bought to enrich their digital personas.

Who are the founders?

Timmu Tõke (CEO), Kaspar Tiri, Haver Järveoja and Rainer Selvet have basically built nothing else than avatars in their professional careers. They founded the company in 2014 first focused on heavy duty hardware: the first product was a professional, hardware-based 3D scanner, operated in public places like airports, museums, and conference halls around the world. Most persistently wandering through every nook of the avatar idea maze for 7 years, they finally hit exponential growth with their software stack riding the web3 and metaverse movement.

Why did Sten get involved?

Several parallel paths have taken me to the metaverse topic:

Skype → building remote work tools → building a distributed org ahead of time → curiosity about future of work → Teleport → Topia → good grasp of why and how work moves into virtual environments

Overall geekery → early adopter of VR tech (trying Oculus before a16z invested; Mozilla VR hubs, etc) → casually following market innovations (Varjo, etc) → realism about where the tech capabilities really are

2013 Bitcoin → 2017 ICO boom → 2019 DeFi → 2020 NFT wave (incl Flamingo DAO) → excitement about the frontier of digital personas, trustless protocols, concept of fungibility, web3 as a cultural movement

I have a strong belief that we will eventually carry out most valuable work in increasingly immersive virtual environments, where gaming just leads the way of what’s possible.

RPM is a way to bet on not an application, but a core infrastructure component of future metaverses, regardless of where the iteration around use cases goes.

 

Robin AI

What is the mission?

Robin is an AI copilot for legal contracting work. Their product helps teams get legal contracts drafted and negotiated at a fraction of the usual speed and cost, using the latest AI models that have been fine-tuned on a proprietary database of millions of legal contracts and with supervision from a ‘lawyer-in-the-loop’.

Who are the founders?

Richard Robinson, a former lawyer at Clifford Chance, grew frustrated by the repetitive legal work that distracted from more strategic tasks and started Robin tackle this. James Clough is a former machine learning research scientist at KCL and Imperial College, where his specialism was using AI on small datasets for highly sensitive, complex automation – similar to the technical challenges at Robin.

Why did Carina get involved?

Legal work is a costly and time-consuming part of every business. I am interested in the potential of newly capable AI systems to shoulder the burden of repetitive work, and free people and society to focus on high impact, important missions. Access to expensive legal expertise also represents an important part of the opportunity gap in society. With Robin, this can change.

Teton

Teton

Type: AI

Investor: Taavet Hinrikus

Website: www.teton.ai

What is the mission?

We are living in a world where the population grows older and needs more care. However, there are not enough people to fill all the nursing jobs at hospitals and care homes. Teton is building an AI companion for nurses to give them superpowers. This allows nurses to spend their time where it matters most increasing their job satisfaction and improving healthcare outcomes.

Who are the founders?

Teton is founded by the duo of Mikkel Wad Thorsen and Esben Klint Thorius. Mikkel first studied law and then continues with engineering, these two degrees give him a unique perspective to go after a complex area like healthcare. Esben is an engineer who gets excited to build working solutions to problems. What caught Taavet’s eye was the fact that the founders and team were incredibly customer focused – many dozens of nights spent in a hospital ward observing the real circumstances and optimising the product.

Why did Taavet get involved?

Healthcare has still benefited relatively little from the technology revolution, and growing demand from an ageing population and shortage of supply of trained staff are the two big issues creating challenges in healthcare systems around the world. Teton offers a simple yet practical solution to a huge problem, and the solution will be both cheaper and better – a classic 10x win. As someone with ageing parents, I’m also feeling a personal connection with Teton’s mission.

Unitary

Unitary

Type: AI

Investor: Ian Hogarth

Website: www.unitary.ai

What is the mission?

As large online platforms have scaled, harmful content has tragically proliferated. Unitary applies cutting-edge machine learning to detect and classify harmful content in live video. They aim to deliver a web-scale solution to internet safety.

Who are the founders?

Sasha Haco (CEO) did her PhD with Stephen Hawking on the black hole information paradox. James Thewlis (CTO) has a PhD from Oxford’s Visual Geometry Group where he developed methods for visual understanding with less manual annotation. During his PhD he worked with Facebook AI Research and has published at top international conferences such as NeurIPS, ICCV and CVPR,

Why did Ian get involved?

Sasha and James are a very unique pair of founders with deeply complementary skill sets. I supported Sasha through her first major customer deal and came to see what a true force of nature she is. James’ background spans computer vision and Reddit moderation and he has thought very deeply about how machine learning can help online platforms scale more safely. I have been motivated to find a way to reduce harms towards children for a long time and am proud to support Sasha and James’ endeavour to tackle such a challenging and critical issue.

VSParticle

VSParticle

Type: Frontier Tech

Investor: Sten Tamkivi

Website: vsparticle.com

What is the mission?

VSParticle will unlock a century of material innovation in the next decade. Its technology breaks down materials to the size of nanoparticles. Then, at the push of a button, materials research and industrial users can simply “print” new composite materials of these particles to match their desired properties for new products. 

Who are the founders?

VSParticle began life as a long-term research project in TU Delft in the Netherlands, the home country of their great domestic role model and most expensive tech company in Europe, ASML.

Aaike van Vugt (CEO) worked on spark ablation as a Master’s student before collaborating with his professor Andreas Schmidt-Ott, co-founder Tobias Pfeiffer, and co-founder Tobias Coppejans to scale the material discovery technology. Deeply rooted in science, the team had already gotten out of their comfortable lab and sold their devices to 40+ customers around the world already by the time Plural got involved. 

Why did Sten get involved?

Creating a matter printer is the science-fiction dream that will fundamentally change economies of producing physical things. Imagine solving a challenge for renewable energy generation by simply instructing a computer as to what end product properties are required.

For me as a third generation physics geek and a software guy, this era of truly software defined physical materials is exciting. Imagine an ever-growing catalogue of possible materials, carefully tagged with structured data on their properties – accessible as simply as we use Pantone codes today for matching colours. Hit and miss experimentation that currently takes 15 years will instead happen in months, if not days – and at scale.

https://pluralplatform.com/the-missions/
whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London