The AI-focussed venture capital firm Air Street Capital today announced the closing of a €14.6 million fund, targeting early-stage founders in Europe and the US who combine AI expertise with deep sector-specific knowledge. Led by Air Street Capital founder and general partner Nathan Benaich, the London-based fund represents a new way of investing in AI companies. Its partners are embedded in the AI community and apply technical expertise to spot new talent and to source viable AI applications.
Before starting Air Street Capital, its founder Nathan Benaich launched RAAIS and London.AI, which connect AI practitioners from large companies, startups and academia. During his time as a Venture Partner at Point Nine Capital, Benaich also co-authors the annual State of AI Report, an analysis of the most interesting developments in AI. Benaich’s prior investments include Mapillary (acquired by Facebook), Tractable, LabGenius, Thought Machine, Starship, Ravelin, PolyAI, Jukedeck (acquired by ByteDance), and Numerai.
Air Street Capital’s team believes that supporting AI-native founders at the seed stage is particularly critical in Europe, where almost one-quarter of top global AI talent earns their undergraduate and graduate degrees. However, the ecosystem offers fewer specialist investors than the US and is further from the big industrial research labs. Investors around the world are increasingly taking notice of European AI companies at the later stages, for instance Sequoia investing in Graphcore or Facebook acquiring Mapillary.
The fund will draw on a deep bench of AI-native Operating Partners who have built their careers in the early days of AI-first software. These include Phil Keslin (Niantic), Julien Cornebise and Gabriel Dulac-Arnold (Google Research, DeepMind), Gaile Gordon (TYZX, acquired by Intel), and Jan Erik Solem (Facebook, Mapillary). Air Street Capital’s current investments include Allcyte, Anagenex, Graphcore, Intenseye, LabGenius, Mission Barns, and V7 Labs, and ZOE.
Together with the team’s interdisciplinary RAAIS community, its funding of open source AI projects through the RAAIS Foundation, and sharing of industry analysis and best practices, Air Street Capital is uniquely positioned to become the partner of choice for entrepreneurs building AI-first companies.
Nathan Benaich, General Partner at Air Street Capital commented: “Everyone knows that there is a huge opportunity in AI investment, but far fewer investors know what great AI companies look like in their earliest days. Air Street Capital invests from day zero onwards, frequently before companies enter the strike zone of generalist venture firms. Air Street Capital draws on our experience and network as AI-native founders and investors who have a track record of building impactful products and identifying the most promising companies from within the rapidly growing opportunity set.”