Why’s a fund organising a Digital Transformation event?

Digital Transformation

Introducing DX Week: Part 1

When you think about Investors putting on events, you tend to think of office hours, a portfolio get-together, a big pitch day.

So when we heard at swiftscale that TDK Ventures were doing their next keystone event around Digital Transformation, or DX in short, we thought two things:

  1. That will be epic, where do we sign up? (Here by the way)
  2. Why on earth is a fund doing this?

Digital Transformation as a term has grown in popularity over the years, maybe spurred on because it’s now a title that’s been creeping into the Corporate C-Suite. And thus, something we tend to think has more to do with businesses and customers. Big events like TechCrunch’s DISRUPT, SaaStock and Slush are more what you imagine thinking about DX conferences – and though investors get invited, they seldom put them on themselves.

But there’s obvious reasons why it makes complete sense for a VC to do this (especially a corporate-backed one), because investors are a critical component in the recipe that leads to DX. Corporates love to think about and discuss DX, but often struggle to actually do it themselves. Big companies make incremental innovations often, as opposed to the transformational innovations that lead to major global changes. So if well-funded, well-staffed companies struggle, what hope is there for the little ones?

And that’s of course where investors are crucial, as Nicolas discussed,

“Investors are helping entrepreneurs and their transformational technologies by lowering the barriers of entry. And that puts us in a beautiful place, investing in startups creating truly unique solutions that could not be done before, even by a big company.”

We wanted to dig deeper into DX Week, and understand the why, the what and the how…

Why is this important now?

“I am convinced this is the decade everything is going to change”

“The world is changing. We are coming out of a pandemic that’s shifted the mindset of what people can do. All of the progress we made on how to collaborate online has created opportunities for those investors who make the right bets on the right entrepreneurs. Large scale changes in geopolitics, supply chains has led to a convergence of all these enabling technologies that before were not relevant.”

“We are at a major inflection point, where DX starts to bring real value to real people. This is the decade we are going to have Air Taxis; there’s no doubt about it, and we invested in a company called AutoFlight who are a few years away from doing this. Think about flying from San Francisco to San José and it will take 5 or 6 minutes versus one hour of highly polluting driving and congestion. If this starts to take effect for goods as well as people, that’s really, really valuable. Time saved, Emissions saved. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will also see the adoption of tech that will deliver you genuine Augmented Reality experiences, and that you can wear all day. It won’t be heavy, clunky. We invested in a company called Mojo for example, a smart contact lense that delivers you timely and useful info whilst you walk around.”

“There’s a number of applications like this which the DX we’ll see in this decade will enable, which I think even ten years ago we’d have thought was Science Fiction. People even today probably still think Air Taxis and Augmented Reality is Science Fiction, but we are only 2-3 years away from it becoming normal. This will all happen between 2020-2030.”

Perhaps we can talk more on these specific enabling technologies. Why for you they capture DX, and why not focus more on a single topic like you did for Energy Week?

“Well this is the point: DX requires a number of very important topics to all work well together. So we could not do just Metaverse, just Mobility, or just Connectivity. You have to look at it from all these angles.”

DX Week will see 5 topics covered over the week – Metaverse, Connectivity, Edge Computing, Industry 5.0 and Future of Mobility

“To start with Metaverse makes sense, because it is really a huge transformational area. But Metaverse can’t succeed unless you have good connectivity. Then we move onto Edge Computing, because once you have this connectivity, you need to optimise the computing on two sides: the device and the network. Once you have this, you start looking at what to do with all this data, and how to do it sustainably. That’s for us, the key addition that leads to the emergence of Industry 5.0. Then with all that, we can discuss the future of mobility – on the roads, in the air, sharing data between the infrastructure and the vehicles.

“So why not one topic? Because we felt we could go deep and wide into these several topics, but also because without them all, DX is not complete.”

Looking back at this being the decade of Transformation, what do you think are the core challenges for DX, the things that could stop it from being successful or going forwards?

“It’s not how I would frame the question. It will be successful, it will happen. The question is more, ‘how successful will it be’?”

“Let’s look at climate – there is so much we can do with Industry 5.0 to do better for the climate and the environmental situation we find ourselves in. Success would be that we stay within the 1.5 degree target. A great success would be to get beyond that, to better the target and hit less than a 1 degree rise in global temperature.”

“So my view is that there’s no doubt it’s going to be successful, and there’s no way it’s not happening. The recent geopolitical and post-pandemic aspects are just a new constraint, but it’s not actually changing the ability to transform digitally. So the question is whether we are going to make it as successful as possible.”

“And that’s why we do this DX event – we want to get top people to come together and discuss the endless possibilities and good ideas to create better solutions. Because today, if you are an entrepreneur, you are starting a business at the best time ever, with an ability to leverage these massive transformations that are happening right now.”

Next up: Part 2

Next week, we will release part 2 of our interview with Nicolas, focusing more on what makes DX Week a special event and how to make the most of digital events. If this has been enough to get you intrigued, don’t forget to register here!

In the meantime…

For more on DX Week, check out this Medium post by Nicolas highlighting the key themes and more on why they are doing it.

For more on TDK Ventures, check out their website and our previous interview with Nicolas exploring CVCs in the modern era.

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