BootstrapLabs AAI18 Panel – Applied AI in FinTech: Faster, Cheaper, Better?

Over the next several weeks we’ll be releasing the videos from the sessions from the BootstrapLabs Applied AI Conference 2018. The yearly conference organized by BootstrapLabs, a leading Venture Capital firm focused on Applied AI, that brings together over 800 members of the Artificial Intelligence community for a day of incredible speakers and exciting conversations.

Moderator: Ash Fontana, Managing Director, Zetta Venture Partners


  • Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer, Ayasdi
  • Shaunak Khire, Co-Founder and CEO, EmmaAI
  • Ashish Bansal, Sr. Director – Data Science, Capital One
  • Xavier Legros, VP – Product Development & Science , Trusted Insight

During this session, the panelists discussed AI in finance technology, data privacy and security, interpretability of algorithms and the need for a strong relationship with regulators.

Some of the key takeaways from the session are:

  • For AI to deliver value in FinTech, interpretability and explainability are important, you need to be able to prove where your model comes from and have strong documentation.
  • You need to make sure the right controls and processes are in place to ensure data privacy and security.
  • Developing a strong relationship with regulatory agencies is key to make sure your model is unbiased and explainable and be able to influence regulators into adopting better, more complicated models.

About Ash Fontana:
Ash joined Zetta Venture Partners – the first venture capital fund focused on intelligent systems – with Mark Gorenberg at the time it launched. Ash is a board member of and lead investor in companies such as Kaggle, Invenia, Clearbit, Tractable and Focal Systems. Before Zetta, Ash started the money side of AngelList, launching online investing, managing $130M over more than 250 funds, creating the first startup ‘index fund’ and more. Ash previously co-founded Topguest, a Founders Fund-backed company that built customer analytics technology.

About Sangeeta Chakraborty:
Sangeeta is the Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi. Prior to Ayasdi, Sangeeta built multiple professional services practices across a number of successful startups including Digital Fuel (acquired by VMWare), Inquira (acquired by Oracle) and Interwoven. Sangeeta began her career in consulting with Tata, Fujitsu and Vitria.

About Shaunak Khire:
Shaunak Khire, is the co­founder & CEO of Emma/MANSI, an explainable AI for the financial markets. Shaunak started out as a mobile security consultant at British Telecom focusing on vulnerabilities in bluetooth standards. Previously Shaunak was a Board Member of a private equity backed DMP (data management platform), he has also served on the global board of the Mobile Marketing Association. Shaunak was a part of the Clinton Global Initiative tech & poverty alleviation groups and built the MaghaCGI30 Index a social impact index that weighs constituents based on CSR metrics. He is a contributor for TechCrunch and has been on MIT Technology Review’s 35 under 35 list in 2012.

About Ashish Bansal:
Ashish is a Senior Director of Data Science at Capital One. He uses AI/ML to generate insights from vast amounts of data and build interesting B2B, B2C and Enterprise products. He manages a product portfolio of 5+ products. Prior to Capital One, he co-founded GALE Partners and headed the Machine Learning group, building AI/ML based marketing automation products. He helped the company grow from 9 to 120 and setup the India office. Overall, he has over 18 years of experience in the technology industry, along with an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and B Tech from IIT BHU.

About Xavier Legros:
Xavier is the VP of Product and Science at Trusted Insight. He’s responsible for bringing machine learning to the world of alternative asset management – Currently focusing on VC and Credit Markets. He is continuously improving the #1 social network for CIOs and alternative assets managers through Trusted Insight platform website and mobile experiences.

Trusted Insight: Disrupting the $6 Trillion Alternative Asset Market

Two weeks ago, we wrote about how AngelList is disrupting the angel investment landscape with its syndication model, and last week we announced our own AngelList syndicate in partnership with Gil Penchina, the #1 AngelList Syndicate lead. Today we would like to tell you about Trusted Insight, a company that is applying the same disruptive syndication model, but to the entire alternative asset industry, not just startup investing and venture capital.

Our recent posts created a lot of engagement and sharing on social media (thank you for that) and were recently reinforced by a series of conversations and posts that emerged from interviews of Naval Ravikant and Gil Penchina at the NVCA Annual Meeting in San Francisco and the Collision Conference in Vegas.

What are Alternative Assets and how big is the industry?

Alternative assets usually include illiquid and private investment opportunities such as Venture Capital, Private Equity, Real Estate, Hedge Funds, Infrastructure, and Illiquid Credits. Institutional investors, including family offices, professional fund managers, endowments, pension funds, and other wealth managers, invest in these “assets” as part of their allocation strategy, either directly or via specialized funds.

Globally, the alternative assets industry represents $6 Trillion each year, dwarfing the $30Bn US Venture Capital Industry.


Global asset Industry

Why total addressable market and average deal size matters?

Last year, AngelList, the leading startup investment platform, enabled over $100M in private financing, and while not all of these were syndication deals, it is fair to assume that the vast majority were. On average, a syndicate financing on AngelList is ranging from $150K to $500K per deal, with individual angel investor checks ranging from $1K to $100K.

In contrast, a typical investment opportunity at the institutional investor level ranges between $25M to $1Bn per deal (e.g. fund, real estate project, buy-out), with each investment check in the millions, if not tens of millions of dollars.

In other words, the market opportunity is 100 to 1000x bigger than angel and venture investing.

Basic unit economics: private placement fees vs. syndication carry

Traditionally, players in this space have been entrenched in the private placement business model (i.e. broker-dealers regulated by FINRA / SAIC) as it provides them with the following benefits:

  • Commissions are paid at closing
  • Fee as a percentage of transaction amount provides some level of scalability (linear)
  • Commission is “earned”, independently of the investment outcome, successful or not

Private Placement Model
Fee percentages tend to range from 7%+ for smaller private placements to 1-2% for larger transactions. In the example above, we assumed a 2% fee, given the $100M financing amount.

In contrast, the syndication model provides a profit share return on work performed only if the opportunity that was syndicated in the first place is an overall success, meaning that cash or liquid securities are being delivered to the investors as a result of their ownership of the asset.

An average timeline to exit or return on investment might be 7 years, with some being shorter (rarely) and some being much longer (especially real estate or infrastructure deals). As the platform facilitating these syndicated financing deals, your are now sharing the investment risk but are also looking at a much higher return potential.

Syndication Platform Model

Additionally, that increased risk is being mitigated in a few ways:

  • Positive selection: for a deal to be syndicated, it needs to be vetted and syndicated by a “lead” who is not only respected as a professional in the space, but who is also investing his own capital, thereby creating long term alignment with fellow investors backing his syndicate/investment opportunity
  • Diversification: the syndication model, across alternative assets and geographies, will provides for a natural risk diversification of the “carry portfolio” owned by the platform
  • Syndicate lead incentive: syndicate leads will naturally emerge as the platform provides them with a highly efficient and scalable way to syndicate opportunities and capture carry from 3rd party investors that leverage their access, knowledge and expertise. As shown in the table below, the incentive is significant
  • Scalability: the marginal effort required to run a new syndication on the platform, including discovery, vetting, marketing, due diligence and closing, will add minimal costs to the platform (compared to a traditional private placement process), while maximizing the overall upside potential

    Syndication Lead Model

    About Trusted Insight and why BootstrapLabs lead their Series A Round

    Trusted Insight is a New York-based big data alternative asset management platform disrupting the way institutional investors discover, connect, analyze, and ultimately syndicate deals with one another across different verticals and geographies.

    Since its inception, the company has experienced continuous growth and engagement from its user base including many of the world’s largest asset management institutions and family offices, representing over $18 trillion in assets under management globally.

    At BootstrapLabs we have known Alex Bangash, the founder of Trusted Insight, for many years and have been tracking the progress of the company since its inception. We have great respect for the work Alex and his team have accomplished thus far and we look forward to contributing our technology and fintech expertise to help the company reach the top.

    We believe the winner in the space will need to bring 3 core components to the table:

  • Curated professionals engaging via an industry-centric social network driven by content, communication, events and jobs
  • Big data analytics, behavioral science, and pattern recognition algorithms enriching user experience and personalization, and facilitating targeted syndication
  • Ability to jumpstart the syndication model with proprietary fund-of-funds vehicles that have credibility with the institutional investor community

Overall, the alternative asset industry is ripe for disruption and represents a massive opportunity for those who dare to try.

Alex and his team at Trusted Insight are leaders in this space and we are truly excited to be working closely with them, in true BootstrapLabs’ fashion, to shape the future of the global alternative asset investment space.

Learn more at

(Disclosure: BootstrapLabs is an investors in both AngelList and Trusted Insight.)