An Interview with Managing Partner Victoria Palatnik

May 1, 2023

In the past few years, the technology behind artificial intelligence has evolved exponentially. As AI becomes more accessible for all, we sat down with our very own Managing Director Victoria Palatnik, to discuss how it will impact businesses globally, and how we at Raw Ventures are collaborating to facilitate in pushing the technology forward.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the market?

“In the past few years, AI has taken monumental leaps forward in its intelligence and widespread reach. From the launch of DALL-E2, an advanced deep learning image generative platform, to the greatly lauded ChatGPT, an eloquent, coherent and intuitive chatbot, AI is officially accessible to everybody, no matter the industry or budget constraints you’re working in.

As of early 2023, the artificial intelligence market was valued at $165B USD, almost doubling in just two years from the 2021 valuation. The significant penetration of AI technologies is thanks to both a rapid increase in AI efficiency and a swift adoption by relevant companies, to use the technologies in existing and growing industries. Add to that the big players including Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon, all developing and distributing AI services, it’s easy to see how and why AI is on so many people’s minds right now.

That being said, it’s worth noting that innovation takes time. We know from the turbulence of the cryptocurrency and blockchain market just how quickly things can change, faith can wither and investments can be lost - evident in the $30B USD blockchain boom of 2021, only for 80% of funding to be lost just 18 months later. While yes, it is inevitable that AI will be a greater part of our lives and businesses in the future, it will not happen overnight, and requires deeper learning, continuously developed iterations and patience before it is truly in a place to be ubiquitously adopted.”

Are there any emerging trends in the AI industry?

“Some of the earliest and most obvious uses of AI have been for customer service, finance and HR operations. However, emerging trends are now seeing the technology used for much more intricate and intuitive uses.

AI is being widely adopted in healthcare including for medical diagnosis, drug discovery, and patient monitoring. We see AIBODY and Smartomica in our portfolio both using AI in innovative manners within the healthcare industry.

We’re also paying close attention to Explainable AI (XAI); the development of AI models allowing rationales and reasoning to be easily understood by humans, to build greater trust and transparency in the systems themselves.

Finally, the evolution of edge AI, that runs on edge devices such as smartphones, smart watches, and IoT devices, is worth taking note of. Edge AI has the potential to improve performance and reduce latency by processing data locally instead of relying on cloud servers.”

What are the advantages you expect companies using AI early to benefit from?

“I think that companies that adopt AI early can secure a competitive advantage against their competitors, improving their business processes, leveraging the technology to optimise operations, and providing better customer experiences. The automation of processes can allow businesses to streamline their operations, ultimately reducing labour costs. In addition, the use of AI can increase accuracy and efficiency, as AI is able to process enormous quantities of data in very little time, resulting in quicker and more-informed decision-making. The innovation opportunities are infinite, with the generation of new product and service ideas, as well as AI prompts to initiate the creation of original ideas. Furthermore, companies can offer greater customer experiences, with round-the-clock and instant responses for customers seeking assistance.

With countless other advantages including scalability, risk management, personalisation and enhanced security, it’s easy to see why so many companies are tapping into AI in one way or another.”

What are the major challenges facing the AI technology market?

“Data availability and quality is also a challenge within the world of AI, with large amounts of data often needed to be trained and optimised.

Security is also an issue, with many AI systems proving vulnerable to cyberattacks. This will need to be addressed quickly, to negate major data breaches for companies utilising AI tech.

The ethics of AI does concern me. Bias, privacy and accountability all pose ethical and legal questions, in how information and data is stored and presented. In addition, the ethical implications of widespread automation is also a concern, with the potential for millions of people to lose their jobs and be replaced by AI. While there is an argument that these individuals can be trained to take on new roles, it is unlikely the quantities of new roles will match the quantity of roles that will become redundant.”

How does the rapid adoption of AI compare to previous technological developments of the past 30 years?

“There have been few technological developments of the past 30 years that have been adopted so swiftly by individuals and companies alike, in such a short period of time. It took close to a decade for companies to truly see the potential, specifically in marketing, of social media, and the leverage and reach possible, including through collaboration with industry personalities and celebrities. Likewise, although Crypto and Web3 were first introduced in the late 2000s, the crypto world wouldn’t be taken seriously until the mid 2010s, with crypto companies exploding towards the second half of the decade. Even the internet itself was slow to be adopted universally, with many even dismissing internet-only startups like Amazon’s projected potential as preposterous.

The idea of AI is, of course, not new. What arguably is new, is company’s and individual’s mindsets, to be future proof and willing to identify the ramifications of rejecting the adoption of AI. While the technology itself is arguably much more advanced than the aforementioned technologies were when they launched, it is the 

How do you see the AI technology market evolving in the next 5-10 years?

The AI market is projected to reach a valuation of £1.6T USD by 2030, and to me, this is not surprising whatsoever. In the next 5-10 years, we’ll see more and more companies adopt the use of AI, in many different ways.

AI technology itself will continue to improve dramatically, with greater personalisation, automation and continuous advancements in algorithms, tools, and platforms available, which will allow companies to implement AI more easily.”

As an investor, do you have any areas of particular interest?

“We are always on the lookout for innovative and disruptive startups that have the potential to revolutionise the market and provide significant value to their users. As investors, we are particularly interested in various sectors including, but not limited to, MediaTech, HealthTech, and FinTech. Our top areas of interest are AI, especially as it relates to healthcare and education.

We have a good understanding of the environmental sustainability theme - our portfolio company called Balena serves as our guide in this direction. Undoubtedly, we closely monitor the development of startups that use AI to combat environmental issues, create waste-sorting robots, reduce vehicle mileage through autonomy and autopilots, and more”.

Will there be any investment in AI technology this year?

“We are very cautious when it comes to investing in AI technologies at the moment, during the hype and gold rush. However, we have formed and continuously fill a separate pipeline for AI-based startups and are currently analysing several companies in detail. We have developed several internal criteria and principles that help us filter out projects that are not suitable for us, thus mitigating risks and saving our team's time.”

Several companies in the Raw Ventures portfolio are developing products based on AI. Can you explain why you chose to invest in them?

“The AI-based companies in our portfolio were chosen based on their innovative solutions and potential for growth. We saw the opportunity to invest in these startups due to their unique approaches to solving real-world problems, strong founding teams, and scalable business models. The most important distinction between a hyped startup and a successful company at the beginning of its journey is that their products start with the businesses' or customers' problems, not from the technology itself. A prime example is Fermata, which creates an incredibly useful product that helps farmers preserve their harvest using computer vision. Another is AIBODY, which develops products to create digital twins of the human body for various future use cases. I believe the rapid development of AI technologies in medicine will enable not only incredible advancements in diagnostics and treatment but also a significant increase in life expectancy and quality. Wine investment platform Vindome, a company already making use of the blockchain, will soon be using AI also, pushing their technological capabilities forward further.”

How do AI products align with Raw Ventures' values?

“As I mentioned earlier, successful companies' products begin with addressing a real problem or customer need that can be effectively resolved. AI technologies enable the solution of numerous problems, which is why they are so important for society and why they have generated so much discussion recently. The first few months of 2023 have shown that no matter in which field people tried ChatGPT, they quickly found practical applications. What's inspiring is that breakthroughs in AI technologies have been made possible due to the openness of research teams. Without public and open information exchange, we would have had to wait much longer for progress. What is happening with the development of AI right now opens up many opportunities for the launch and growth of startups, which in turn contributes to the advancement of the entire venture capital industry.”

“AI products align with Raw Ventures' values by promoting innovation, efficiency, and transformative solutions. We believe that AI has the potential to greatly improve various aspects of our lives and create new opportunities for businesses. By investing in AI-driven startups, we aim to support the development of groundbreaking technologies that will ultimately benefit society as a whole.”