Sentiero Ventures, a Dallas-based venture capital fund, has closed on its first round of funding to close the gap between what AI can do and what is useful to a business.
The $10 million fund has what it calls a unique approach to screening and supporting investments. The VC specifically invests in software-as-a-service companies built on using artificial intelligence—like process automation, cognitive insights, cognitive engagement, and data collection—as a key element of their tech solutions.
Sentiero, which means “pathway,” says that is specifically seeks out companies that sit at the “intersection of utility and capability.” That could include verticals in business services, marketing, real estate, financial services, healthcare, or entertainment.
Upon making an investment, Sentiero uses its investor advisory board to support these emerging companies. Potential clients and partners are given operational expertise and connections that could take a business from conception to exit.
According to the team, they have the niche background to do so.
“Our investor advisory board extends our experience and pattern recognition across 27 industries, allowing us to find the highest impact opportunities for AI,” Sentiero Founder and Managing Partner David Evans said in a release. “Unlike a traditional VC model that vets and invests with managing partner insights only, the Sentiero model opens the vetting experience to its investors—currently all entrepreneurs—to add subject matter expertise as part of the due diligence exploration.”
With its first boost of funding from 20 investors, Sentiero aims to capitalize on the growing AI space—one that is predicted to add $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030, per PwC.
Now, Sentiero can move forward with its plans to make ten initial investments up to $500,000 in its portfolio companies. Eligible business must have a “full product completed and some evidence of commercial viability,” according to the team.
As Evans puts it: “Artificial intelligence is at a stage of adoption similar to the web in 1997 and presents a similar opportunity for investors.”
As a successful serial entrepreneur himself, the founder is in a strategic position to launch the new fund. His last company, EasySeat.com, landed at No. 176 on the Inc. 5000 and had an exit in 2015.
Since, Evans has spent time as a fractional CTO for several organizations, in which he witnessed the power of AI firsthand, and used his own personal capital as an angel investor.
Sentiero was launched with two co-investors and entrepreneurs, Jon Eberly and Kishore Khandavalli. The fund expects to invest primarily in Texas-based companies, though it’s open to anyone in the U.S. Sentiero will accept new investors through the end of April before closing.
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