183. Automation vs. AI (Adeyemi Ajao)

Nick Moran Angel List

Adeyemi Ajao of Base 10 Partners joins Nick to discuss Automation vs. AI. In this episode, we cover:

  • Backstory – Growing up in Spain and Nigeria and his path to entrepreneurship.
  • Previous to Base10 Partners, you had quite a successful career as an entrepreneur, founding highly influential companies such as Tuenti, Identified and Cabify in Latin America – talk a bit about your experience founding and scaling multiple tech companies, ultimately to exit?
  • How did you, TJ and Reggie come together and decide to create Base10?
  • On the website it says that you “started Base10 to take a profoundly different approach to Automation.” Tell us more about your thesis on automation and how it’s different.
  • Talk about Automation vs. AI and the potentially misleading guidance that we’re hearing from many firms in the valley with regard to AI.
  • Of course, with any big changes that are made to the way people traditionally do things, there is a reaction. While some will embrace automation tools, others will have an adverse reaction. Are there certain sectors, categories or even functions that you think will more readily adopt automation solutions?
  • You mentioned a number of industries… Real Estate, Construction, SaaS, Agriculture, Logistics, Consumer… you have these Partners listed on the website, like Fifth Wall, Bessemer, Owl, Shasta, Bain Capital… can you explain the details of your partnership program?
  • When researching sectors that youโ€™re interested in and assessing the opportunity to implement automation tools, what key factors are you looking for?
  • “We know automation. We have seen it succeed and fail. We know what playbook to apply from team structure to go-to-market, automated customer service or data collection systems.” Talk to us about the playbook elements that have application across the automation-focused startups you work with?
  • You’ve discussed the pride you take in being: Hispanic, American, European, African, black and white. It’s quite notable that you raised the first black-led VC fund of over $100M. How were you able to break through such a significant glass ceiling where others haven’t?

Guest Links:

Key Takeaways:

  1. Adeyemi shares the success stories behind founding, Tuenti – known as the Spanish Facebook and the largest Social Media platform in Spain, later acquired by Telefonica for $100M. Cabify – the equivalent of Uber in Latin America and Spain, and Identified – Workday’s first public acquisition.
  2. Prior to Base10, Ade had a hand in starting Workday Ventures and lead their first 10 investments, including an investment in Jobr, that was at the time run by his now partner TJ Nahigian.
  3. When investing in Tech companies, especially at early stages, there is always going to be plenty of room for improvement, however, if there’s a great product with real traction, having a little faith in the team will go a long way.
  4. Ade is drawn to companies that are taking monotonous, everyday, heavy workflow processes and using data in interesting ways to rebuild and transform them into simple solutions.
  5. Ade and TJ Nahigian recognized they had similar beliefs and valuable yet complimentary skill sets, and decided to merge the two, forming Base 10.
  6. The true purpose of Automation is finding real problems, that real people experience everyday and providing legitimate solutions that will create a meaningful change for it’s users.
  7. Through his experience, Ade has found that physically spending time in the field your researching and understanding their day to day workflow, is ultimately the only way to truly find the problems worth solving.
  8. There are 2 general categories of Automation – Process Automation and Decision Making. AI typically falls into the Decision Making category.
  9. Ade addresses the misconceptions behind AI being a threat to millions of jobs throughout the country. He believes AI is merely a decision making tool to help us with automation, and there is absolutely no threat associated.
  10. At Base10, their ultimate goal for Automation is to make society as a whole fundamentally better. They are currently targeting waste reduction in the construction industry.
  11. Sectors Ade believes will benefit from the application of Automation tools include transportation, food delivery, construction and logistics.
  12. With their expertise in Automation solutions at Base10, they’ve developed a partnership program to spread their knowledge amongst multiple industries by collaborating with firms who are experts in specific fields.
  13. Automation is not an industry within itself but something that has the opportunity to touch a vast number of industries in different ways.