Artificial intelligence Startups Venture

Eye On AI: Bain Capital Ventures Launches BCV Labs In Search Of New AI Deals

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This column is a look back at the week that was in AI. Read the previous one here.

As AI deals get increasingly expensive and the landscape becomes cluttered with more startups, it gets harder and harder for investors to get in on the ground floor at the “right” startup.

Bain Capital Ventures is trying to solve that problem through something quietly launched in the summer — BCV Labs, its new AI incubator program.

The new incubator — which has already made a trio of deals — was developed by BCV investors Aaref Hilaly and Rak Garg at BCV’s Palo Alto, California, offices. The idea for the lab sprung from the fact that while AI networking events have been popping up all over the Bay Area in the last year-plus, actually getting to meet the right people has only become more difficult.

The lab has an AI fellows program for entrepreneurs with AI or deep domain knowledge as well as a leaders program for those with market know-how. The idea is to bring that talent together for intimate discussions with investors and their peers to spur new innovation.

“Why we started BCV Labs is because these entrepreneurs need a different set of resources,” Garg said.

Included in the resources BCV offers is access to the AI tech infrastructure fledgling startups need in order to start to build their company, thanks to BCV’s network of partners and agreements with those in the tech industry.

BCV hopes through those resources and the collaboration the lab will help spur on, it can get a leg up on finding the next new AI infrastructure startup or application player.

The new project has already sprouted some ventures. Contextual AI, a workplace generative AI startup, got its start at BCV Labs. BCV also led its $20 million seed round.

Two other companies currently in stealth were incubated out of BCV Labs and have raised seed financings led by BCV, with participation from well-known angel investors.

“We want to find great startups,” Garg said. “Ideally, we’ll lead the seed and every round after that.”

Deal terms can vary. It could be a $20 million seed round, a $5 million round or even a simple note or agreement for future equity, Garg said.

“We’ll find a term structure that suits them,” he added.

Things that caught our eye and other stuff:

Just a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Google seeking out more AI deals after its massive $2 billion investment in San Francisco-based Anthropic. Well, per Reuters, the search giant is in talks to invest hundreds of millions in AI chatbot startup, which could be structured as convertible notes. In September, Bloomberg reported, which allows people to create their own personalized AI chatbots, is seeking to raise “hundreds of millions of dollars” in a round that could value it at more than $5 billion.

It was also reported this week that YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley has raised a seed round led by A-Star Capital — with participation from SV Angel 1 — for his new startup EyeTell, which uses artificial intelligence to generate short-form video scripts and content. No amount or valuation was disclosed.

Further reading:

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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