Aptly, Baukunst, named for the German word for “the art of building,” is looking to invest its newly raised fund in founders who are “elevating the art of building.” The firm is leaning on its concept of “creative technologists,” which it describes as the Venn diagram intersection of visionary thinkers at the forefront of cultural and social change, and technologists who don’t shy away from being at the forefront of where technology is moving. technology.
The “cultural shift” Baukunst refers to is the big shift of Generation Z joining the workforce and shifting decision-making power to the millennial generation. It also highlights collaborative and remote work, the erosion of trust in large institutions, and the attention economy. Finally, the company is keeping an eye on how customer demand changes in response to climate change and other big societal shifts. On the technology side, the company is particularly interested in companies that are taking advantage of changing toolsets and computing power, including the ubiquitous availability of cloud-based AI, blockchain and crypto protocols, and the proliferation of edge computing and, on the hardware side, the availability of system-on-a-chip systems that make AI and ML technologies available on all devices. Baukunst also has a specific interest in the manufacturing, supply chain, mass customization, and availability of cheap and capable sensors that make next-generation IoT solutions easier and faster to develop and deploy.
The sweet spot for Baukunst are founders who create first-generation technologies and products that enable the exploration of new business models. The firm is particularly eager to re-imagine modes of production by transforming the way startups design, make and move objects around the world. If that sounds like a pretty broad investment thesis, don’t be wrong, but the red thread in all of this is companies that are facing big challenges across a wide range of industries.
“Baukunst is a selective ecosystem of founders, investors and domain experts coming together to elevate our culture of creation,” explains one of the firm’s general partners, Kate McAndrew, in her announcement. “We specialize in getting new things right, and we welcome people, products and companies that don’t fit easily into existing boxes.”
The firm leans heavily into its Creative Technologist brand, including creating an expert advisory panel it refers to as its “Creative Tech Council,” many of whom are investors in the venture fund. The firm prioritizes teamwork over solo work, or “ecosystem over egosystem,” as it likes to describe it.
“We believe that individual genius is overrepresented and the complex power of scenes is undervalued. This is in stark contrast to the cool, self-centered obsession that permeates Western tech culture today. In the typical startup myth, the individual is at the center,” explains McAndrew. “Everyone knows the founders but they overlook the first ten employees. We always hear about the lightbulb moment, rarely the running stories. We are told about new disruptive technologies that emerge from isolation in a founder’s head, that do not evolve from a deep interconnection with the world around him. You don’t get Horses without the love story between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, or the chance to trade art for rent at the Chelsea Hotel. You don’t get Apple without the Homebrew Computer Club.”
In a nutshell, the firm argues that without a rich community of interdisciplinary experts, you don’t get the magic of Black Mountain College, Xerox PARC, or Bauhaus.
The company’s general practitioners have an illustrious track record of investing in some inspiring companies. The new fund is something of a reboot of the Bolt venture fund, which began life as a hardware investor complete with machine/prototype shops and office space in Boston and San Francisco. Eagle-eyed venture capital stalkers will have noted that Bolt’s third fund portfolio has plenty of investments that aren’t strictly hardware, and it’s not surprising that there’s room for a startup to pick up where Bolt left off. The team is keen to point out that Baukunst is something entirely new, rather than Bolt 2.0. However, his website lists a number of Bolt’s portfolio companies (including Tonal, Bobbie, Fyto, Pair, Fi, Spyce, Aluna, and Desktop Metal) as his investment experience, which confuses the message a bit.
Unusual for a venture fund, perhaps, the company commissioned Zach Lieberman to create a 10-year evolving work of art that reflects the ever-changing nature of the art of construction. You can see it in action front and center on the Baukunst website.
“In a world where most investors had been scared away by technically ambitious products, with nothing more than a simple prototype and presentation platform, this team saw the potential of Tonal, wrote the first check, and worked to reduce the risk of our business until they surpassed our Series A,” said Aly Orady, founder and CEO of Tonal, which achieved unicorn status last year; Techcrunch took a deeper dive into Tonal as part of our EC-1 series:
Kate [McAndrew] he was Bobbie’s first investor and is now Bobbie’s father. She shares our ambition to use Bobbie as a means to drive culture, including the culture of how we build companies ourselves,” shared Laura Modi, CEO and co-founder of Bobbie, who raised a $50 million Series B last month. . .
The team found a Wiedergeburt at Baukunst, leaving behind two of Bolt’s three general partners, Ben Einstein and Greg McAdoo, and elevating Bolt’s existing investment team to general partners in the new fund, which includes Tyler Mincey, Matt Thoms, Axel Bichara and Kate McAndrew as his equal general partners.
According to its filing with the SEC, the company’s first fund will weigh in at $100 million.
Full disclosure; I was Portfolio Manager at Bolt until 2019. I have no financial interest in Baukunst.