This post was originally published on Medium
What I cannot create, I do not understand.’ — Richard Feynman
As a VC team, our work calls for supporting builders pursue big dreams. We are lucky to join them as they shape technology that solves problems for millions. In the past few years, Fernando, my partner, and I have organized a few things towards that end: we created Fondeadora, Latam’s first crowdfunding platform recently sold to Kickstarter, we founded Numa Mexico an accelerator and innovation platform and we are scaling ALLVP with all our hearts. Even if we are proud of our impact so far, we are not builders, not in the purest sense at least. We did not construct the house where Numa Mexico community stands or coded Fondeadora’s marketplace or even designed an algorithm for successful VC investing. We do establish, initiate and mostly finance great tech. We don’t build.
Earlier this year, we got a chance to actually start building something, so we jumped on the opportunity. It all started during one of our Founder’s Jam, sessions where entrepreneurs discuss and collaborate around a particular theme. This workshop was dedicated to chatbots: most of our portfolio companies and founder friends were either launching or thinking of launching one for their platforms to automatize processes and to improve user experience. As we all sat around a fresh breakfast, CTOs debated the dos and don’ts of building a chatty software. As the ALLVP team debriefed at the end of the gathering, Emy, our youngest investment professional volunteered: “What if ALLVP built its own chatbot?”. After all, communicating efficiently with the ecosystem and most importantly with founders is part of our core business, she argued.
So we got a crash course from Apli’s CTO. With extreme patience, Volker, a Austrian straight shooter, explained how he had seamlessly built the decision tree. “You see, it is very simple… even for you”, he ended smiling. A couple of days later we reached out to Pablo, founder of reply.ai to gain access to their platform. Apli’s intro worked like magic as we were hardly the kind of high profile client Omar was working for in NYC these days. Emy enrolled Patricia, our diligent office manager and Leonardo, our most passionate intern to start working on our own decision tree. The team analyzed and classified thousands of emails we had received in the past five years through our website, structured frequent queries and detected key words and chilanguismos — Mexico city slang. As the majority of emails were written in Spanish from Mexico they settled with bad hombre’s mother tongue.
So here we are, a few months later, presenting ALLVP’s Automatic Language Launcher Interface for Entrepreneurs: ALLIE.
Business readers may think this is a inconsequencial PR stunt from a hyperactive team. It’s so much more! A couple of weeks ago the whole team sat in the board room to see ALLIE in action for the first time… and she spoke back to us. Geeky followers may say — like Volker — that it is as easy as pie. Perhaps. But, it’s our way to build something together, however small. It’s our way to program something that works, and to keep on improving it. Our way to have as much fun as our most driven founders.
Today ALLIE is just a modest decision tree to communicate, albeit approximatively, with founders. But ALLIE won’t stop here: the next step is to add some speech recognition technology and to make ALLIE bright. I am sure that in the near future, ALLIE will be able to learn anything from creating one-pagers for start-ups to replying emails and hopefully editing my posts. One day with the right AI technology ALLIE may help us take better investment decisions. Hell, we may build new things with her now that we’ve met!
Want to meet ALLIE?, visit ALLVP