We’re excited to announce our collaboration with Wavemaker Labs, a robotics and automation incubator, in order to offer a curated selection of their portfolio companies to investors through the SeedInvest platform. We recently sat down with Buck Jordan, Wavemarker Labs’ founder, to ask a few questions.

Buck Jordan has been a Partner at Wavemaker Partners since 2018 and founded Wavemaker Labs, a corporate venture studio in 2018. Prior to that, Buck founded and Managing Partner at early stage venture fund Canyon Creek Capital, a position he held since 2010. Buck is a technologist and early-stage venture investor with a successful track record of building businesses at the leading edge of technology and in transformative high growth markets, such as robotics, digital media, and consumer products. He has led investments in successful startups such as Relativity Space, Gyft, Winc, Miso Robotics, ChowNow, and Jukin Media, among others. Prior to his work in venture capital, Buck honed his operating expertise during his time as a management consultant, working on Capitol Hill in Senator Arlen Spector’s office, and as an Army Blackhawk Pilot.

What makes Wavemaker unique?

“Wavemaker Partners is unique in the fact that it is a cross border venture fund, dual headquartered in both Singapore and Los Angeles, with 25 team members spanning five countries. This broad exposure gives us a unique global perspective which informs our investing and isn’t available to most VCs who spend the bulk of their time investing in a single city or geography. Additionally, Wavemaker has never been afraid to experiment or innovate. Given that venture by nature deals with technology and business model innovation on a regular basis, you would expect the firms deploying capital to be innovative as well. However, we believe that the opposite is most often the case with funds following the tried and true “2 and 20” model which has existed for decades. We have been active in nascent markets, worked closely with governments to create early-stage ecosystems and with corporations to promote true innovation which impacts their businesses. Last year we launched our own corporate innovation studio which fosters success by matching corporates up with startups at a very early stage. Wavemaker is not only aiming to innovate with regard to how and where it organizes capital, but also on how it approaches the entire startup ecosystem.”

“Wavemaker Partners is one of a handful of VCs with an in-house corporate innovation studio, Wavemaker Labs. At Labs we develop new businesses and technology using our years of experience in the venture landscape, simultaneously leveraging our deep industry connections in an effort to limit the risk in our investments.[1] Before we invest the first dollar, we spend a significant amount of time and energy securing a strategic corporate partner so that our portfolio companies have market validation and a meaningful customer from day zero.”

“On a very basic level, many investors ask themselves three questions when evaluating almost any company: is this company solving a large and very real problem? Can they build it, and does anyone want to buy it? Our companies start with a customer from day zero, so investors can worry less about whether there is initial market adoption or demand. They do, however, need to ask themselves if our team can build the technology needed to deliver on the pre-orders. We hope that by reviewing our team’s past accomplishments, which include building exoskeletons, driverless vehicles and even the Mars Rover, that last question will be answered.”

Based on your experiences in VC, what interested you most about SeedInvest?

“We are excited about crowdfunding in general because of its potential to meaningfully disrupt the venture landscape. Prior to crowdfunding, the opaque world of venture capital and early-stage investing was the domain of the extremely wealthy or large financial institutions. Now, there is the potential to truly democratize this asset class and give the status quo a run for its money. The way early-stage companies interact with investors is changing and they now have another channel through which to fund their growth that does not necessarily involve angels or traditional venture funds. It’s still early days in the world of crowdfunding, but it’s clear to us that the volume of capital coming in from this channel will only continue to grow. Will it eventually surpass venture funding? The early-stage world is changing and Wavemaker wants to be at the tip of the spear.”

“When we canvassed the crowdfunding space, SeedInvest stood out as being on the forefront of equity crowdfunding in the US, both for being one of the first platforms to help companies raise funds online via Regulation A+, Regulation CF, and Regulation D, but also in their efforts to affect changes in the various regulations and laws. However, the most important reason why we’ve chosen to work with SeedInvest is because they put a very tight filter on the companies trying to get onto the platform and they negotiate hard on behalf of their investors.[2] Put simply, they look out for their investors and we believe that this has made them the most trusted name in crowdfunding.”

“Historically, venture capital firms have invested in early-stage companies via a role as lead investor, usually with enhanced rights and privileges that allow them to effectively control the company’s strategic direction for the foreseeable future. Venture-style investing has also historically been limited to venture capital firms. Conversely, equity crowdfunding represents the democratization of venture investing. By allowing the general public to have access to venture-grade deals, equity crowdfunding opens up the asset class to the masses. Companies are able to raise VC-sized rounds, but instead of relinquishing control to one (or a handful) of investors, can spread it across a much larger retail investor base, aka the “crowd”. This is a stark contrast to the traditional VC world and one of the reasons why this relationship is so unique.”
What is important about making investment opportunities in Wavemaker companies accessible to SeedInvest’s users?
“It’s all about the democratization of venture investing. We’re opening up VC-backed and VC-vetted deals to the crowd. SeedInvest is able to promote highly curated equity crowdfunding deals that have the backing of a strong institutional investor in Wavemaker.”
How do you see the SeedInvest x Wavemaker relationship developing? What lies ahead?

“We aim to present 4-6 new deals to SeedInvest each year,[3] initially focusing on the robotics and automation space, but eventually expanding to new industries. We want the Wavemaker brand and our portfolio companies to be instantly recognizable within the SeedInvest community. Any time an investor sees a Wavemaker company raising on SeedInvest, we want them to remember the connection, our track record and feel confident that the company is in good hands. Wavemaker is at the forefront of combining venture capital and equity crowdfunding. We identify and incubate new business opportunities then bring them to the masses for continued growth.”
What makes you passionate about robotics and other disruptive technology?

“The past decade or so has seen a tremendous explosion of data collection in almost every area of our lives and business. There is tremendous value in this data but it is only now beginning to become unlocked as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning has come along to help us gather useful insights and make decisions based on this data. With those insights and that data it falls to automation and robotics to action them. By combining the increasing power of AI with the decreasing cost of hardware, we’re going to see a substantive impact on a multitude of industries, and indeed the world. This is where things get exciting! We are on the cusp of a revolution in AI and robotics such that over the next two decades we will see automation imbed itself in a million different ways we can’t even begin to imagine. As with any great technological revolution there is massive potential value to be created,[4] and Wavemaker Labs has chosen to not just invest in this revolution, but to lead it.”
What’s the coolest thing that investors might not know about each of the inaugural deals?

“You’ll notice a theme in the companies we’re tackling with this first batch. All of our companies are in industries which are under intense existential pressure from market and labor forces which are only continuing to get worse. This means there are substantial enterprises facing existential threats which need to innovate or risk being displaced. They’re looking to Wavemaker Labs to help them.”
Graze – The landscaping industry is a low margin business, which has caused a significant amount of consolidation in the space in an effort to streamline the backend in order to increase profitability. This is an industry under incredible margin and labor pressure, and consolidation has been one of the limited numbers way to improve things for years. The bulk of revenue in the space comes from mowing, which has razor thin gross margins, if at all. What excites me about this space is thinking about what happens when we turn a 0-10% margin mowing job into a 50%+ margin business. How does that affect the profitability of these companies and how does it affect the rampant roll-ups which are happening throughout the industry? We believe there’s a potential window of opportunity for Graze to roll up other traditional landscaping businesses and dramatically increase the business’ value and industry profitability as a whole.”
Hitch Robotics – With the advent of faster shipping and better methods of food preservation, the US agricultural industry has been under intense pressure because the food world is globalizing. This means farmers in California and Ohio are now competing against farmers in the developing world where labor and land prices aren’t even comparable. If we don’t begin to innovate as a nation we are going to find that we cannot compete in any crop except for the already highly-automated row crops, the consequence being that our fruits and vegetables will come from thousands of miles away as opposed to our own country. We believe Hitch will play a crucial role in the future of the American farming industry.”[5]

[1] SeedInvest/Wavemaker Labs’ selection criteria does not suggest higher quality investment opportunities nor does it imply that investors will generate positive returns in investment opportunities on SeedInvest/Wavemaker Labs. Learn more about due diligence in the SeedInvest Academy (/academy/how-to-assess-a-startup-investment)"and our vetting process in our FAQs (/faqs)
[2] SeedInvest’s selection criteria does not suggest higher quality investment opportunities nor does it imply that investors will generate positive returns in investment opportunities on SeedInvest. Learn more about due diligence in the SeedInvest Academy (/academy/how-to-assess-a-startup-investment)"and our vetting process in our FAQs (/faqs)
[3] All new deals are subject to satisfying SeedInvest’s comprehensive due diligence process. SeedInvest’s due diligence process is no guarantee of success or future results. All investors should carefully review each investment opportunity and cancel their subscription within the allotted time-frame if they do not feel comfortable making any specific investment based on their own DD. Learn more about due diligence in the SeedInvest Academy (/academy/how-to-assess-a-startup-investment)"and our vetting process in our FAQs (/faqs)
[4] Investing in robotics and AI does not suggest higher quality investment opportunities nor does it imply that investors will generate positive returns in investment opportunities on SeedInvest/Wavemaker Labs. Learn more about due diligence in the SeedInvest Academy (/academy/how-to-assess-a-startup-investment)"and our vetting process in our FAQs (/faqs)
[5] Hitch is offering securities under Regulation CF and Rule 506(c) of Regulation D through SI Securities, LLC (“SI Securities”). The Company has filed a Form C with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with its offering, a copy of which may be obtained at: Hitch: /hitch"Graze is accepting reservations for an Offering under Tier II of Regulation A. No money or other consideration is being solicited, and if sent in response, it will not be accepted. No sales of securities will be made or commitment to purchase accepted until qualification of the offering statement by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) and approval of any other required government or regulatory agency. A reservation is non-binding and involves no obligation or commitment of any kind. No offer to buy securities can be accepted and no part of the purchase price can be received without an Offering Statement that has been qualified by the Commission. A Preliminary Offering Circular that forms a part of the Offering Statement has been filed with the Commission, a copy of which may be obtained from Graze: /graze

This post was written by Alice Hankin on November 4, 2019

SeedInvest and Wavemaker Labs Join Forces to Provide Disruptive Tech Investment Opportunities