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article imageThe Hive — the venture fund and co-creation studio: Interview Special

By Tim Sandle     May 2, 2018 in Business
The Hive’s business model works with promising entrepreneurs and technology partners, fostering the development of promising AI-powered applications for the enterprise. Co-founder T. M. Ravi explains more.
There are many venture capital firms and incubators and accelerators in Silicon Valley yet not all succeed in delivering fast and marketable artificial intelligence solutions. The Hive’s model sets out to help its corporate partners innovate faster.
In addition to collaborating with entrepreneurs, The Hive also collaborates closely with corporations including GE, Verizon, Software AG and Rockwell Automation to co-create and launch startups. This model is designed to allow corporations to innovate faster than their competitors and to participate in cutting edge innovation in areas where they have deep expertise.
According to The Hive's co-founder T. M. Ravi, there has been insufficient focus on AI in the enterprise. Ravi, who was formerly Chief Marketing Officer for information management service Iron Mountain, thinks this is where AI tech holds the most promise. He explains more to Digital Journal.
Digital Journal: How important is AI becoming for business?
T. M. Ravi: AI is driving radical transformation of business that this transformation is happening rapidly. AI is enabling new products and services, driving new revenue. The commoditization of the collection, storage and analysis of data (Big Data) combined with AI approaches such as machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is a major new technology approach that can be applied to create a vast new set of business solutions.
AI is also driving significant operational efficiency, agility and increased performance for corporations. It is helping automate business processes. It is driving new workflows and process transformation making business operations unprecedentedly fluid and adaptive. Ultimately AI is driving unprecedented increases in business productivity.
Companies that truly embrace AI will separate themselves from the rest. My advice to corporations is to have an AI strategy and do something about it!
DJ: Which sectors are likely to see the most disruption from AI?
Ravi: AI will impact every industry, but first those industries where data is readily available and a key part of their operations. Financial Services, Industrials and Health are industries where we are seeing major opportunities for disruption by AI.
In Financial Services we see new client-facing innovations such as mobile and chat interfaces, process innovation with Robo Advisors and business process automation, new trading and portfolio management approaches that leverage deep learning and whole new AI driven areas of regulatory compliance (RegTech) and supervision by authorities (SupTech).
The Internet of Things (IoT) and AI are driving major opportunities in the Industrial segment. Industrial machines are becoming smart machines enabling autonomous industrial operations.
The biggest impact of AI will be on our health. We are in the early stages of work on the discovery of new drugs and precision medicine customized to an individual’s genetics and current health situation. We will see a reinvention of healthcare systems and how we receive health related services.
DJ: Are new AI platforms coming from bigger corporations or start-ups?
Ravi:Horizontal AI platforms will mostly come from open source and major corporations such as Google, Amazon, Baidu, Microsoft, IBM, etc. The large corporations have been surprisingly agile in this area and have the scale to build complex cloud-based AI platforms with a mix of fast-evolving algorithms and approaches. There are a handful of startups that are building innovative AI platforms and we expect most of them to be acquired by the large vendors.
DJ: How important are technology hubs for fostering innovation?
Ravi:We are based in Silicon Valley and while the cost of operating a company here is high, that is offset by the rich ecosystem of innovators, customers, partners and capital. A large number of corporations that are based in other parts of the US and the world have opened innovation centers in Silicon Valley to leverage its innovation ecosystem.
DJ: How did The Hive come about?
Ravi:The Hive came about because we believed that AI and data related approaches will be transformative to our lives at the scale of the industrial revolution. We at The Hive are focused on creating the next set of enterprise companies that will enable the ‘Autonomous Enterprise’.
DJ: How does The Hive differ from other venture capital firms?
Ravi:VCs are primarily funding entities and serve as capital partners for startups. The Hive in contrast co-creates startups with entrepreneurs and provides all the capital as well as operational support to help a startup become viable and ready to go to market. In the beginning, The Hive collaborates with entrepreneurs to explore themes and then develops a startup concept that is validated by the market.
We then help start the company and fund it. The Hive guides entrepreneurs to help their early startups move through company building, business design, go-to-market strategy and introduction to early customers and partners. As the startup matures, The Hive helps syndicate future rounds of financing with major financial and strategic VCs. To support our unique co-creation model, The Hive has a team consisting of data scientists, product thinkers, serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
DJ: Can you share some examples of your startups?
Ravi:Let us take two startups that The Hive has co-created and funded. FogHorn is a startup providing edge intelligence solutions for IoT. The edge was a contrarian play at a time when most in the industry was advocating a cloud-only IoT solution. FogHorn is now the market leader in edge solutions and is working with GE, Bosch, Honeywell, Google, Intel, Dell, Yokogawa, Saudi Aramco, and other partners.
Decision Engines is addressing the challenge of business process automation. They have pioneered a Cloud-First Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) solution that goes beyond today’s rule based Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to deliver AI based end-to-end process automation based on a human-bot collaboration platform.
DJ: How important is it for start-ups to work with major corporations?
Ravi:The Hive helps its startups work with 3+ customers and a handful of go-to-market partners prior to the launch of their solution. A close engagement with a corporation helps the startup get real world customer feedback in its formative stages. They also serve as a valuable reference for other corporations looking to take a risk with an early stage company.
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