An A.I. startup founder explained why his unusual financing strategy could be a new trend for founders

Artificial intelligence digital brain in robotic hand
Dan Siroker's A.I. startup aims to help people have "perfect memory."

In Silicon Valley, fundraising has always been a lot like dating—tons of posturing and rejection. But one entrepreneur found a way to use the power of the internet to transform his fundraising round into something more like online dating.

Rewind AI CEO Dan Siroker found a creative way to conduct his most recent Series A funding, as The Information first reported. Siroker made his pitch deck public and created a form for investors to pitch him with how much they were willing to invest in mid-April. He tells Term Sheet he was blown away by the response: He got 170 official offers and over a thousand investors expressed interest. As Siroker puts it, “Before online dating, you can still find love, but the pool of people you potentially meet is much smaller than you if you use online dating. I feel like going out and actually casting a wide net not only gives you a lot more options but also gets you connected with somebody who you might not otherwise have thought to connect with.”

Siroker announced NEA was going to lead the round on May 9, even though the firm’s $12 million investment at a $350 million valuation wasn’t actually the highest offer the startup received. “[The company] being capital efficient, not having to change large language models, and having a proprietary data set—I think that really made investors salivate,” he explained.

I spoke to Siroker about how he built his technology and how he decided to make his pitch deck public. 

Dan Siroker founded his A.I. startup with the goal of helping people have “perfect memory.”
Getty Images

Termsheet: How did you come up with the concept for Rewind and how does the company’s technology works? 

Siroker: I started the company out of an experience I had in my 20s. I have a genetic condition that caused me to go deaf early, and the good news is when I tried a hearing aid at the age of thirty it changed my life. Losing a sense and gaining it back again feels like gaining a superpower. 

So, I started this company really trying to answer the question: If there’s a hearing aid for hearing and glasses for vision, what’s the equivalent for memory? Our vision is to give humans a perfect memory. The product we built is a MacOS app that captures everything you see and makes it searchable. We also integrate with Chat GPT so you can actually ask questions. For example, you can ask it to write you an email based on the context of a person you might know. We call it a copilot for your mind. 

Why did you decide to make your pitch deck public and conduct your funding round in such an unconventional way? 

The main reason initially was to build trust with customers. We thought, at minimum, it’d be a great way to be transparent. And it turns out, it was a great way to save time because I was getting hundreds of inbound investors reaching out and I just didn’t have time to meet with everyone. So I thought, I’m not worried about competition, so why not just put it all out there and see what happens? There was a little bit of internal debate. It wasn’t an obviously good idea before we did it, but after we did it, it actually turned out to work way better than we ever expected. We got close to 2 million views on the pitch deck itself and over a thousand interested investors.

How did you choose NEA? You got other offers that would have valued the company at over a billion, but you didn’t go for the highest bidder.

I spent a lot of time with the finalists and some folks even flew out here to Denver which is really flattering. It really came down to their long-term orientation. Most venture capitalists have a 10-year time horizon for investments—that’s their commitment to their limited partners. NEA has a 15-year fund lifecycle and oftentimes they are buyers at the IPO, not just sellers. That’s another really strong sign to me because I want to be doing this company for the rest of my life. 

Will you use this method again for your next fundraising round? Do you think others will follow suit?

Yes, I think so. This is a much better way. There have been lots of founders who have reached out saying this was a brilliant idea and they love it and said ‘I’m going to do the same in my next round.’ So I hope this is the beginning of a trend.

It’s also a win for the investor because they know we’re not hiding anything—we’re out there publicly. It’s transparent and shows that the company and the founding team is confident. 

You can see Rewind’s viral investor presentation here

Lucy Brewster
Twitter: @lucyrbrewster
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