VC Veteran and Serial Product Launcher Partner to Raise $30M Fund Aimed at Fueling the Robotics Renaissance

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Artificial Intelligence will change everything - including Venture. Grit Labs is ahead of the curve in solving the problems lurking on the horizon.

Grit Labs Funds Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Jennifer Gill Roberts and Kelly Coyne - Founders of Grit Labs

The founders we are seeing are not coming out of boot camps - they have incredibly specialized disciplines and domain knowledge

Seasoned hardware executives Jennifer Gill Roberts and Kelly Coyne of Grit Labs today announced that they will be merging their respective companies (Grit Labs, a seed-stage investment vehicle, and Pitch, a Go-To-Market firm) and raising a $30M dollar fund to invest and shepherd groundbreaking AI and robotics companies through the often tumultuous journey from prototype to launch. Focused on providing entrepreneurs with both seed-funding and go-to-market strategy guidance, Roberts and Coyne plan to expand the existing Grit Labs portfolio.

Grit’s early investments focused on AI and Robotics categories, ranging from consumer products to construction logistics with Rhumbix (an investment shared by Greylock, among others) and the recently acquired Moxxly. The new fund will focus on B2B robotics, powered by recent developments in artificial intelligence.

The fund is built upon a number of proprietary insights from the two partners, gleaned from a combined 3 decades of invesmtent and a dozen executive roles in deep technology hardware.

“The really unique thing about the time we are in is the fundamental shift in the way we will view engineering talent. The technology needed to build artificial intelligence hardware is extraordinarily advanced and specific. The founders we are seeing are not coming out of boot camps - they have incredibly specialized disciplines and are largely coming from postgraduate programs or from deep within the R&D labs of large companies with the resources to build up these competencies,” says Coyne, “This is why we have focused our sourcing strategy on those two areas - building advisement relationships within large firms as well as creating deep ties to universities and our alma maters, Stanford and Oxford.”

Coyne and Roberts contend that this requirement for specialization will drive an entirely new kind of entrepreneur - one that will require a significant amount of help and insight in regards to commercializing this tech and remaining viable between concept and launch.

Coyne says, “When I built Pitch, it was because I had been working with many companies in Silicon Valley, starting from that very critical conceptual stage. I saw so many of them make critical mistakes before I joined - often similar ones - issues with anticipating BOM, building a Beta program or crafting a launch strategy. This is why I was so passionate about building a firm focused on pre-seed.”

Adds Roberts, “This level of engagement before people have finalized design, selected a CM, even built their feature set or started Alpha - it allows us to really impact the trajectory of these companies.”

An additional insight has to do more with the recent success of seed-stage venture firms.

“We have seen enormous success in seed-stage hardware firms specifically in the last few years. Inevitably, small institutional seed funds move upstream - raising ever larger funds and chasing larger deals. Many move into the Series A space - leaving a gap in a once flourishing investment area.” says Roberts. “Grit Labs fills that gap. There are only a handful of elite firms in the seed-stage hardware/robotics space and most of them have raised > $100 M fund, forcing them upstream in terms of investment stage. Our background and experience places 'smart money' into the hands of innovators in their critical inception stages.”

Grit Labs focuses on founding teams who are validating their market opportunity, refining their product focus, and assembling their technical teams. The duo say they have a “conviction-based portfolio”, meaning that they fund far fewer companies and invest a considerable amount of time leading the investment, serving on the board, shepherding the companies from pre-seed through S-A, and coaching the entrepreneurs as they build their startups.

The pair officially join forces and launch their fundraising process this week.

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Kate Mitchell

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