Fittingly, Baukunst – named after the German word for “the art of building” – seeks to invest its freshly raised fund in founders who “elevate the art of building”. The company is exploring its concept of “creative technologists,” which it describes as the intersection in the Venn diagram of visionary thinkers at the forefront of cultural and societal change, and technologists who don’t shy away from being at the cutting edge of technology. where technology evolves.
The “cultural shift” that Baukunst refers to is the big shift of Gen Z joining the workforce and decision-making power shifting to millennials. It also sheds light on collaborative and remote working, the erosion of trust in large institutions and the attention economy. Finally, the company monitors changing customer demand in response to climate change and other major societal changes. On the tech side, the company is particularly interested in companies taking advantage of toolkits and changes in computing capacity, including the ubiquitous availability of cloud-based AI, blockchain protocols and of cryptography, and the proliferation of edge computing and – on the hardware side – the availability of system-on-chip systems making AI and ML technologies available in every device. Baukunst also has a particular interest in manufacturing, supply chain, mass customization, and the availability of cheap and capable sensors that make next-generation IoT solutions easier and faster to develop and deploy.
The strong point for Baukunst is the founders creating first-generation technologies and products that enable the exploration of new business models. The company is particularly keen to reinvent ways of production by transforming the way startups design, manufacture and move things around the world. If that sounds like a pretty broad investment thesis, you’re not mistaken, but the common thread running through it all is companies tackling big challenges across a wide range of industries.
“Baukunst is a select ecosystem of founders, investors and industry experts who come together to elevate our creative culture,” says one of the firm’s general partners, Kate McAndrew, in her announcement. “We specialize in making new things happen and welcome people, products and businesses that don’t fit easily into existing boxes.”
The company leans deeply into its Creative Technologist brand, including creating an advisory group of experts it calls its “Creative Technologist Council,” many of whom are investors in the venture capital fund. The company values teamwork over solo work — or “ecosystem over ego,” as he likes to describe it.
“We believe that individual genius is overrepresented and the complex power of scenes is undervalued. This stands in stark contrast to the self-centered, genius obsession that pervades Western tech culture today. In typical startup mythos, the individual is central,” says McAndrew. “Everyone knows the founders but forgets the first ten employees. We always hear about the light bulb moment, rarely about the execution stories. We hear about new disruptive technologies emerging from isolation in a founder’s head, not evolving from a deep interconnectedness with the world around you You don’t get horses without the love story between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe , or the ability to trade in artwork 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 GPs have an illustrious history of investing in inspiring businesses. The new fund is a reboot of a sort of venture capital fund Bolt, which started life as a hardware investor with machine/prototype shops and offices in Boston and San Francisco. Eagle-eyed venture capitalist stalkers will have noted that Bolt’s third fund portfolio features many investments that aren’t strictly material, and it’s no surprise there’s room for that. a new venture picks up where Bolt left off. The team is keen to point out that Baukunst is a whole new thing, rather than Bolt 2.0. Nonetheless, his website lists a number of Bolt’s portfolio companies (including Tonal, Bobbie, Fyto, Pair, Fi, Spyce, Aluna and Desktop Metal) as his investment background, muddling the message somewhat.
“In a world where most investors had been afraid of technically ambitious products, with nothing more than a simple prototype and pitch deck, this team saw Tonal’s potential, wrote the first check, and worked to reduce risks to our business until we were past our Series A,” said Aly Orady, founder and CEO of Tonal, which achieved unicorn status last year; Techcrunch took a deep dive into Tonal in part of our EC-1 series:
“Kate [McAndrew] was Bobbie’s first investor and is now a relative of Bobbie. She shares our ambition to use Bobbie as a vehicle to drive culture forward, including the culture of how we build businesses themselves,” shared Laura Modi, CEO and co-founder of Bobbie, who went on to raised a $50 million Series B round 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 partner status in the new fund, which lists Tyler Mincey, Matt Thoms, Axel Bichara and Kate McAndrew as its general associates equal partners.
According to its filing with the SEC, the company’s first fund will be worth $100 million.
Full disclosure; I was portfolio director at Bolt until 2019. I have no financial interest in Baukunst.