This Much I Know is the popular podcast from Seedcamp, Europe’s seed fund

Calum Chace on the advancement of AI for the benefit of humankind

How should we respond to the economic, social and moral consequences of automation driven by advancements in artificial intelligence? We are, argues Calum Chace (author of ‘Pandora’s Brain’, ‘Surviving AI’ and ‘The Economic Singularity’), on the brink of two singularities and accordingly need to plot a path to a future society that is ‘meaningful, sensible and communicable’.

The first singularity we face is technological: Moore’s law stipulates that computing power doubles every two years at the same cost. If this holds then an artificial general intelligence (GI) will eventually arrive that surpasses the cognitive abilities of an ordinary human and then, shortly afterwards, that of all humans combined. Relatedly we face an economic singularity: such intelligent machines will take all the jobs that humans do - and we won’t be able to invent ones they can’t.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Calum reflects on how we should react to the advance of AI to ensure the outcome we get is one which is positive for humankind. He argues that we will need need to decouple income from jobs, and will probably need a new economic system - but that the Universal Basic Income advocated by many futurists, tech CEOs and thinkers is insufficient. “We should be aiming for a world in which machines are so efficient and powerful we don't have to pay for anything,” he says.

Calum is a regular speaker and writer on artificial intelligence and related technologies. Prior to his writing career, Calum had a 30-year career in business, in which he was a marketer, a strategy consultant and a CEO. He maintains his interest in business by running a small property business and serving as chairman and coach for growing companies. In 2000 he co-wrote The Internet Startup Bible, a business best-seller. He studied philosophy at the University of Oxford.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Calum’s Blog:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Calum: /

Martha Lane Fox, entrepreneur and philanthropist, on navigating IPOs and the dotcom crash, the online travel company, was founded in early 1998: “a time when, it seems strange now, but there really wasn’t a belief the internet would necessarily survive, yet alone be a tool we used every day,” says cofounder Martha Lane Fox. Two years later, at the peak of the dotcom bubble in March 2000, the company was publicly floated, “representing this brave new world of entrepreneurialism in the UK”. A week afterwards, the tech market crashed.

Martha is an internet entrepreneur, philanthropist and public servant. She sits on the boards of Twitter, and Marks & Spencer, chairs the board of the digital skills charity, Go ON UK, and was on the board of Channel 4 from 2007 to 2011. In 2013 she became the youngest female member of the House of Lords, joining as a crossbencher. She was appointed Chancellor of the Open University in 2014 and in 2015 launched the charity Doteveryone.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Martha discusses how was able to survive and even flourish amid the dotcom crash, eventually being acquired for £577m by Sabre Holdings in 2005. As well as explaining the roots of the company’s success - mainly landing great deals, and building strong relationships and partnerships - she talks candidly about the biggest obstacles the company faced, including overspending on technology and floating prematurely: “‘We IPO’d too early. It’s as simple as that.”

Martha also addresses her work at Doteveryone, the British charity finding new ways to make the internet work for everyone. “I’m not some crazy tech utopian. I don’t believe startups and software are going to save the world. I think it’s an indelible part of the world but there is a lot that makes it inequitable,” she says.

Tune in to learn more about Brexit’s implications for the future of the UK’s technology sector, what founders should expect from their board directors, and how to address gender inequality in tech.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Lastminute: Doteveryone:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Martha: /

Joseph Gordon-Levitt on disrupting Hollywood and creative collaboration with HitRecord

You may recognise actor, producer and filmmaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt from blockbusters including The Dark Knight Rises, 500 Days of Summer and Inception. On top of an acting career that spans 30 years, Joseph is also the founder of collaborative production company HitRecord. Out to disrupt the conventional Hollywood model, HitRecord encourages artists on its platform to work collaboratively on productions, with the freedom to remix each other's work and success distributed collectively.

“Rather than just exhibiting and admiring each others work as isolated individuals, we gather here to work on projects together,” as Joseph describes it. The company - founded in 2005, originally as a place for Joseph to get feedback on the projects he started between acting gigs - has enjoyed several successes, including winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media for the series ‘HitRecord on TV’, produced via the platform, in 2014.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Joseph discusses the origins of HitRecord and how the company is disrupting Hollywood by pioneering a “collaborative, creative process, driven by people having fun”. He also details his early acting career and passion for editing and production - including dropping out of Columbia after discovering and falling in love with Final Cut Pro.

Joseph describes working with Christopher Nolan as a highlight, “He doesn’t think about what anyone else wants to see, he just makes a movie he wants to see”, explains why enduring years of interviews “effectively amounting to a salesman” has made him a better entrepreneur, the future of learning and technology and, crucially, what the Batcave is like in person!

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: HitRecord:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Joseph: /

Tristan Harris on product ethics & morality in design

How do you organise a billion people’s life choices? For tech giants like Google, Facebook or Apple that isn’t a flippant question: incremental design choices can have monumental significance when introduced at the scale such companies command. ‘They’re urban planners,’ argues Tristan Harris, ‘designing this invisible city that a billion people live inside, and they don’t know it.’

Called the ‘closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,’ by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris was formerly a Design Ethicist at Google and is now a leader in Time Well Spent, a movement to align technology with our humanity. Time Well Spent aims to heighten consumer awareness about how technology shapes our minds, empower consumers with better ways to use technology and change business incentives and design practices to align with humanity’s best interest. Previously, Tristan was CEO of Apture, which Google acquired in 2011.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Tristan calls for greater recognition by technology giants and software engineers of their ethical responsibilities. He argues that companies like Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, which jostle aggressively for command over people’s attention in a zero-sum game, are in a ‘nuclear arms race’, or ‘race to the bottom of the brainstem’.

Given the perverse incentives such companies face – such as deploying ‘drip-by-drip’, instant notifications to sustain people’s interest – Tristan encourages the creation of coordinating mechanisms, akin to the Geneva Convention, and the adoption of shared norms to clean up what he calls the ‘pollution in the attention economy’.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Time Well Spent: Tristan Harris:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Tristan: /

Patrick Campbell, CEO at Price Intelligently, on buyer personas and knowing your customers

Conventional wisdom often encourages startup founders to focus on product and growth, and then figure out monetization later. Yet this can be a backwards step as Patrick Campbell, CEO at Price Intelligently, notes. Businesses should ‘look at the market they want to attack, and then build the thing for them’, by gathering and analysing data on buyer personas.

Patrick’s background is one steeped in using data to generate insights about people and customers. Prior to setting up Price Intelligently, which provides price optimisation software for businesses using proprietary algorithms to determine customers’ relative preferences and their price sensitivities, Patrick worked on Strategic Initiatives for Gemvara. Before Gemvara, Patrick worked in Sales and Operations at Google, where he built new models to optimise their AdWords strategies. He also worked in intelligence for the NSA, shortly after graduating.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Patrick encourages businesses to work hard on using data to understand the profile and psyche of their customers by building quantified buyer personas. “If you just get in a room and then get aligned on, ‘Here’s who we’re selling to,’ your decisions around product, sales, marketing and operations, even, become crystal clear,” he says.

Learn more about pricing strategies, collecting user behaviour data and finding patterns to help understand customer experience, as well as how to determine which product features are the most important for customers.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Price Intelligently:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Patrick: /

Building Trust Online with Husayn Kassai of Onfido and Philipp Man of CHRONEXT

Online transactions occur behind a veil of digital anonymity. As a result it is not always possible to ensure a person is who they claim to be. For many startups the problem of trust is even more pronounced, with early stage companies lacking the credibility or reputation of established competitors. So how do you build trust online?

On that topic Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal is joined by two entrepreneurs for whom trust lies at the very heart of their businesses: Philipp Man, founder and CEO of the luxury watch marketplace CHRONEXT, and Husayn Kassai, founder and CEO of Onfido, a software company providing the next generation of identity verification and background checks.

Selling assets worth thousands, CHRONEXT must ensure trust across their entire platform and supply chain. Philipp notes their ‘whole business model is built on guaranteeing trust and preventing potential fraud’ and discusses some of the authentication mechanisms they rely on - from identity checks and due diligence on suppliers to manual inspection checks by expert watchmakers.

Meanwhile Husayn explains how Onfido is essentially in the business of building trust and that the company was born out of the recognition that trust would be the ‘currency of the future’. He discusses Onfido’s early days, selling first to the on-demand sector and sharing economy, later to FinTech, and now online and retail banking.

Tune in to learn how to build credence for your early stage business from entrepreneurs who’ve been there before, and how to balance converting customers with minimising fraud.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Onfido: CHRONEXT:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Husayn: / Philipp Man: /

Investing in AI: Carlos Espinal speaking at the AIBE Summit 2017

Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal gave a talk at the AIBE Summit 2017 on venture capital investment in Artificial Intelligence. With one of the largest AI portfolios held by an early-stage investor in Europe, including companies like ThirdEye, Reinfer and, Carlos discusses the areas in which Seedcamp has invested to date and why, as well as wider funding trends.

Carlos recalls the history of previous ‘AI Winters’, in which valuations dry up and scepticism abounds, and explains why right now it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur working with artificial intelligence. He argues that AI, like mobile in 2007, is no longer a standalone category but a technological enabler, unlocking value in healthcare, security and other sectors.

The slides to his talk can be found here: Read more from Carlos on the topic of artificial intelligence and its potential to become 'the new mobile' here:

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: AIBE Summit:

More on the AIBE Summit: The AIBE Summit is a conference on artificial intelligence in business & entrepreneurship. Their mission is to increase public understanding and intellectual discussion on the implications of AI for the business world, to raise the technological literacy of students, entrepreneurs, and professionals alike, and to recognise London as one of the world’s major digital capitals for the future of AI.

It is an initiative pioneered by the LSE Entrepreneurs Society, driven to celebrate the newly formed Partnership on AI between Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft.

Davor Hebel, Managing Partner at Eight Roads Ventures, on entrepreneurial ambition & scaling up

“Being a good consultant, being able to problem solve in a room with a whiteboard, is not the same as being able to get things done,” argues Davor Hebel, managing partner for Europe at Eight Roads ventures (and previous consultant).

Davor’s area of focus at Eight Roads includes consumer and enterprise technology - with Innogames (bought by MTG), Treatwell (bought by recruit) and Notonthehighstreet among the companies he has worked alongside. Davor spent several years at McKinsey and Company, where he advised companies on issues of strategy and technology. He was also an entrepreneur in his native Croatia. Davor holds a tech degree from ASU, an MISM from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Davor discusses moving from Croatia and transitioning from a Communist state to market economy - the US - where he was ‘enamoured by capitalist society, the private economy, talk of entrepreneurship and ownership of companies’.

Learn more about the proof points Eight Roads looks for in companies, including repeatable revenue and an understanding of which marketing channels are starting to scale, and which type of companies should consider relocating to the US.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Eight Roads:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Davor /

Azeem Azhar on startup pivots, fake news and how AI is reshaping societies

With ‘fake news’ of increasing concern - and an issue pushed to prominence during the US presidential election - how can we ensure the accuracy of our information sources? Few are better placed to answer than Azeem Azhar, product entrepreneur, writer and founder of PeerIndex, the social media analytics startup acquired by BrandWatch.

How to find the best and most reliable information is something that Azeem says has driven him throughout his rich and varied career. As well as founding PeerIndex, which processed social data by using machine learning to identify novel, actionable signals, Azeem was involved with startups like EVI (acquired by Amazon), AMI Software (acquired by Bertin) and others. He also worked as a technology correspondent and in management positions for The Guardian, The Economist, BBC and Reuters. Azeem now curates the Exponential View, a weekly newsletter on technology and society.

Speaking with Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Azeem discusses his journey from journalism to technology. He distills the most important lessons learnt during the founding and development of PeerIndex - including successfully pivoting the business twice. Talking about his own experience, he urges entrepreneurs who have sufficient doubts about whether their punches are landing in the market to act quickly.

Azeem also addresses the ways in which advanced technologies like AI are reshaping society, including their costs and associated ethical puzzles, and suggests ways in which we can respond to increased technological efficiencies to avoid a future like that depicted in dystopian blockbuster ‘Elysium’.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Exponential View:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Alex: /

Alex Macpherson, Managing Director of Octopus Ventures, on backing exceptional founders

This week we’re joined by Alex Macpherson, Managing Director of Octopus Ventures. With 53 companies in its portfolio (including successes like Zoopla, Swiftkey and, and around $850M in management, Octopus is one of the European ecosystem’s leading players, backing teams across multiple stages and sectors.

Alex transitioned into venture after 11 years as a derivatives trader in the City – prior to which he sold personal and business computers after leaving school (and even worked in the circus). In 2000 he founded Katalyst, a private investor group making investments into early stage, start up and expansion stage companies. Over seven years, Alex led the business as CEO until its sale to Octopus in August 2007 – upon which he joined the firm.

Speaking to Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal, Alex discusses the ways his years as a City trader shaped his approach to investing– including learning the lesson that the ‘first cut is the cheapest’, meaning investors and entrepreneurs should know when to cut their losses or shift strategy.

Referencing some of Octopus’s biggest success such as Zoopla, Alex explains how he looks for teams that combine execution with vision and why, given that the difference between success and failure is ‘wafer thin’, backing exceptional founders is essential.

Show notes: Carlos Medium: Seedcamp: Octopus Ventures:

Related bio links: Carlos: / Alex: