Verizon Ventures works with a variety of accelerators and innovators to help fuel the startup ecosystem. One company we’ve been proud to work with is The Hive. We sat down with co-founder T.M. Ravi, an advocate for tackling the next frontier of data and works closely with entrepreneurs to do so.
Daniel Chui: The Hive is a co-creation studio working with early stage companies that the team either creates or helps launch. How is The Hive different from most accelerators or incubators?
T.M. Ravi: The Hive is a studio that creates, funds, and launches startups. We believe in a high touch engagement model and work proactively with entrepreneurs to define their business goals, develop the product and establish go-to-market strategy with partners as well as customers. The Hive has a team of operating executives and successful entrepreneurs who work closely with our startups for the first 12 to 15 months to help launch them. In contrast to most incubators and accelerators, The Hive is involved with a small number of companies (4-5 companies a year), provides significant capital ($2-3M in seed funding) and is operationally active with the portfolio companies.
The Hive is thematically focused on leveraging AI and data to create value across enterprise, IoT and online segments. Key areas of interest include: enterprise automation, security & privacy, computer vision, and blockchain.
DC: What are key qualities you look for in the entrepreneurs you work with?
TR: The Hive looks for founders who have deep domain experience and apply creative thinking to leveraging AI and data to create disruptive applications, and use cases, in their domains. As an example, Naghi Prasad, the founder of Deep Forest Media (a mobile advertising company acquired by Rakuten) was the CTO of Tapjoy, VP of Engineering at Turn and has a PhD in Machine Learning and AI. Another example is Dan Turchin, the founder of Neva.ai, a startup that leverages AI to automate service and support, is a repeat entrepreneur and gained several years of product experience at ServiceNow.
DC: Can you tell us about one success story you’re proud of since the launch of The Hive in 2012?
TR: Kosei was started at The Hive by Lance Riedel, the former CTO of The Hive, and Jure Leskovec, faculty member in machine learning at Stanford. In less than a year, Pinterest acquired Kosei and the Kosei technology has been used to enable Pinterest's monetization. Jure is now Chief Scientist and Lance is Head of Infrastructure of Pinterest.
Another success story is FogHorn, a startup co-created at The Hive that enables intelligent edge applications and analytics for Industrial IoT. FogHorn has a go-to-market partnership with GE Digital and recently raised its Series A round of financing from March Capital, GE, Bosch, EMC and Yokogawa Electric Corporation.
DC: With 2017 fast approaching, what’s one big focus area for The Hive in the coming year?
TR: One of the key areas for The Hive in 2017 is to explore opportunities to apply AI to drive automation across the enterprise - front office, back office, operations, data center, etc.
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