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Making sense of all the numbers for busy c-suite execs

Intriq is building an A.I. business strategy consultant

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Private equity usually makes the news when it loads up legacy businesses with excessive amounts of debt, strips them to the bone, and runs them into the ground.

But there’s a lot more to the sector than that. A big chunk of it actually want to help the business they work with to grow.

Can A.I. informed by insights from the world of acquisitions, turnarounds, and optimisation help top-level execs fix their own businesses?

That’s what Intriq wants to achieve. Find out all about them below.

But first:

  • I’ll be at the Tech.eu Summit in London on Thursday and Friday this week. If you’re going to be there (or in the area around Old Billingsgate), drop me a line if you’d like to meet for a coffee and a chat.

– Martin

This issue of PreSeed Now is brought to you by EHE Ventures.

Known for backing high-growth tech, EHE just announced they're building a £15m AI tech fund, and have finalised their core Fund Advisory team. The fund itself seeks to support and accelerate the growth of AI technologies, empowering the brightest minds in tech at pre-seed, seed and Series A.

Learn more about their mission and the fund here

Intriq wants to be a handy AI business strategy consultant for top executives

Intriq co-founders Sam Leighton and Jess Liew

In summary:

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There’s no shortage of startups looking to harness generative A.I. as a tool to help with running a business. 

But while some of those startups feel like they’re technology looking for a problem to solve, Intriq is based on co-founder Jess Liew’s experience working in the private equity world, where business optimisation is the name of the game.

As Liew explains, Intriq can be thought of as a strategic consultant keeping an eye on what all the data on a business actually means.

“Our view is that a lot of businesses are stuck in operational mode… A lot of businesses are just trying to keep the boat afloat. They're catering to suppliers, customers, etc. And they're sometimes losing strategic focus on where they're headed.”

Initially aimed at the hospitality sector, Intriq is designed to make that strategic focus easier for busy c-suite executives. It takes their financial data and operational data, and uses it to help them understand how things stand and what to do next.

“It’s aimed at people who have the decision-making power to affect change, and who may not be as connected to the operational data as people on the ground who don't have the power to make the change,” explains Liew’s fellow co-founder at Intriq, Sam Leighton.

“It bridges the gap between the people who see the operational data and the people who see the high-level financial data, to make sure that these two business functions are completely aligned, so that change can happen.”

“Our northstar metric is around the change in profitability for a business,” adds Liew.

“Ultimately, we're trying to get increased profitability from business, whether that's being driven by growth in its revenue line, or optimising its cost buckets.”

A screenshot from Intriq’s MVP

How it works

As Liew explains, Intriq begins by pulling together data from ERP and accounting software to create an understanding of a business from a financial perspective.

“A great use case for us is a business with multiple locations. So you're looking at your best performing location and maybe your worst performing location. 

“You're getting the insights as to how that gap is being bridged between those two locations and what can be done with the worst performing stores to optimise their cost.”

Intriq also draws on operational data, such as the cost of labour. Liew explains that the software can identify, for example, a discrepancy in labour costs between different locations, and examine why that discrepancy exists.

It can then suggest ways to adjust the cost of labour to better compare with other locations within the business.

Intriq’s MVP is built to analyse spreadsheets, because every business uses them, whereas building integrations with financial software would be much more of a significant task.

Of course, a canny business exec could throw their spreadsheets into ChatGPT right now and get some analysis, but Leighton argues that a dedicated tool like Intriq can provide far more valuable outputs.

“We can anticipate the form of the data, and we've got a system that can ingest multiple tables for different operational and financial business functions, and can then do root-cause analysis comparing different tables from different areas of the business, and then say, ‘what's going on?’ ‘Why is it going on?’ and then ‘what can I do about it?’

“The next step for us is to make it a little bit more rigid around certain use cases tied to certain ERP systems, so that we can become a natural layer that fits on top of all of the main financial and operational systems in the hospitality sector.”

Insights generated by Intriq’s MVP

The story so far

Liew has more than 10 years’ experience in business restructuring, strategy, and transformation in the US and UK. 

This included time working for a private equity fund as part of the portfolio team, who would go into businesses to turn them around.

Meanwhile, Leighton is a software developer who started his career at JPMorgan building systems to monitor the state of the bank’s infrastructure. He then moved on to work at market analysis startup ChAI.

“There I learned a lot about the applications of A.I. and the pains of wrangling with A.I. when you're building a robust system around it. But I also learned a lot about how startup mechanics work. I was sitting between the CEO and CTO, and I got to see what to do and what not to do in those crucial early days of a business.”

Liew and Leighton met through Antler. Leighton had been inspired by the rise of generative A.I. to find a problem worth solving in the space, and Liew’s experience in business was a great fit.

“My job now is to take Jess’s brain and scale it so that we can sell it as a service,” says Leighton. “The sorts of insights that she would produce when she was looking at businesses on a one-to-one basis, we're now trying to do that on a factory scale.”

With their MVP now completed, Intriq is currently identifying and onboarding design partners in the hospitality space to try the product and provide feedback. 

Liew says they chose hospitality as the first market to tackle because businesses in that sector often have multiple locations, which is a good demonstration of the product’s abilities. The sector is also particularly vulnerable to inflation, making it a timely choice.

And there’s more!

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