Investor Brianne Kimmel is doubling down on AI with a new bootcamp and $20 million pledge to back hot, new startups in the space

  • Worklife Ventures founder Brianne Kimmel is launching a bootcamp for AI startups.
  • Her firm has pledged $20 million to invest in those AI companies that complete the bootcamp.
  • Here’s an exclusive look into what the bootcamp will offer and why Kimmel is so bullish on AI.

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Brianne Kimmel, the founder of Worklife Ventures, has long bet on companies she believes will shape the future of work. Central to that thesis, she says, is artificial intelligence.

Kimmel is launching an invite-only bootcamp for AI startups, as an extension of her program SaaS School, which offers mentorship and educational resources to founders building software-as-a-service startups. As part of the AI bootcamp, her firm is committing $20 million to invest into companies that complete the program.

The program is looking to accept pre-seed or seed-stage startups creating data or developer tools or those built using generative AI or traditional AI, Kimmel told Insider.

Though AI has drawn intense interest from investors in the last few months, becoming a hotspot in the midst of a wintry venture-capital funding season, Kimmel said she’s long seen the technology as pivotal to her firm’s investment focus. She began backing AI startups as an angel investor, she told Insider, and Worklife’s current portfolio includes the AI-powered data analysis companies Artifact and Viable.

Kimmel is now seeking to find founders in the space at the earliest stages — in some cases, even before they’ve formally launched a company — through her firm’s workshops.

“AI is an important ecosystem for us,” she said. “It’s not an investment theme where we’re sitting back and waiting for companies to come to us.”

The bootcamp aims to help AI founders find product-market fit and scale by connecting them with business leaders with experience in marketing, sales, and operations.

Since many entrepreneurs have access to novel AI technology like OpenAI’s GPT-3, business expertise and execution will be what takes an idea from just an “interesting technology or a project” to a “venture-scale business,” Kimmel told Insider.

“I grew up in northeast Ohio, and a lot of friends from my high school are using this technology,” Kimmel said. “Everyone has access to these tools, so who’s going to build the next big thing is a real question for a lot of people.”

For its 30 company class, the AI bootcamp will offer a full-day workshop, followed by weekly chats with engineers, product managers, and other tech leaders who are building startups. Additional programming includes topics ranging from product positioning to community building to pricing and packaging. The featured speakers will include operators from hot startups like Grammarly, Notion, and Figma, Kimmel added.

Kimmel also works closely with AI Grant, the non-profit distributed research lab backed by former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross, the former Y Combinator partner who started its AI program and cofounder of the accelerator program Pioneer. Formerly a grant program, AI Grant now makes $250,000 investments in AI companies. Worklife has coinvested alongside AI Grant in several startups, Kimmel said.

Given all the hype surrounding AI, some observers have expressed concerns that the sector may be reaching the point of oversaturation. But Kimmel is undeterred: She believes that the technology is so transformational that even several direct competitors will be able to thrive alongside each other.

“Frankly, AI will exponentially lower barriers to creativity and entrepreneurship and enable a real democratization of ideas and design,” Kimmel told Insider. “Now, we won’t live in a world built by engineers! We’ll live in a world designed by everyone, and engineered by AI.”

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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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