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12 AI startups that will boom in 2019, according to VCs

Appzen: automatically audit expense reports

Appzen: automatically audit expense reports

Startup: AppZen

Total raised: $51 million

What it does: AppZen uses AI to automatically audit 100% of a company's expense reports, invoices and contracts in real time.

VC who selected it: Arif Janmohamed, Lightspeed

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: "Every company has employees who expense things that are out of compliance, out of policy or are just fraudulent. Similarly, every company has suppliers that game the system and push the envelope," says Janmohamed.

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Atrium: using AI on legal documents

Atrium: using AI on legal documents

Startup: Atrium

Total raised: $75 million

What it does: Atrium is like the offspring of a law firm and a tech startup. It uses machine learning AI software to deal with ordinary legal documents and has lawyers who work on the complex legal issues.

VC who selected it: Nakul Mandan, Lightspeed

Relationship to the startup: No relation. Just thinks it's cool.

Why it's hot in 2019: "Legal advisory is a huge, huge industry that still operates pretty much the same way it operated two decades ago. Atrium is bringing together all the advancements in AI, workflow automation and collaboration to build a next-gen more scalable law firm," says Mandan.

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Farmwise: self-driving, robot tractors

Farmwise: self-driving, robot tractors

Startup: Farmwise

Total raised: $7.5 million

What it does: Farmwise has built an autonomous tractor that uses computer vision to cut weeds without the use of herbicides.

VC who selected it: Niki Pezeshki, Felicis Ventures

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: The tractor could help farmers save money and overcome labor shortages. "The autonomous tractor that drives over rows of crops and uses computer vision to determine if what it’s looking at is a plant or a weed. If it’s a weed, it uses scissors to chop it, and if it’s a plant, it doesn’t do anything," says Pezeshki.

"With only a seed round raised, they already have multiple tractors operating on farms in California and are generating significant revenue," he says.

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Fetch Robotics: self-driving warehouse robots

Fetch Robotics: self-driving warehouse robots

Startup: Fetch Robotics

Total raised: $48 million

What it does: They are developing autonomous robots for warehouses.

VC who selected it: Peter Levine, Andreessen Horowitz

Relationship to the startup: No relation. VC just thinks it's cool.

Why it's hot in 2019: "Fetch is building not just robotics to handle the huge 500-1000-pound pallet movement but they also leverage AI to track the inventory updates and object locations to make the warehouses and logistics much more safe and reliable," says Levine.

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FortressIQ: A software bot that helps create other software bots

FortressIQ: A software bot that helps create other software bots

Startup: FortressIQ

Total raised: $16 million

What it does: An AI software bot that detects a company's processes, documents them and helps automate and can then manage them.

VC who selected it: Nakul Mandan, Lightspeed

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: "The digital bot ecosystem is growing exponentially, and enterprises need a governance layer to manage their digital bot portfolio to see which processes can be automated, which bots are working well versus not, and which processes should be sent back to humans. FortressIQ is building the governance platform to do so," says Mandan. "Think 'Workday for bots'."

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Guru: AI for 'coaching networks'

Guru: AI for 'coaching networks'

Startup: Guru

Total raised: $38 million

What it does: It helps companies make sure all of their documents for their revenue teams—marketing, sales and support is up-to-date and it automatically puts the right knowledge in front of the right people at the right time.

VCs who selected it: Jake Saper, Emergence Capital and Accel's Ben Fletcher

Relationship to the startup: Saper is an investor. Fletcher is not, he just thinks it's cool.

Why it's hot in 2019: "Guru is pioneering what we call Coaching Networks, instead of letting your most important facts live inside employee's heads," Saper says. " With $25 million in the bank, Guru plans another growth spurt."

Says Fletcher,"Guru is a knowledge management solution that uses AI/ML to surface content and answers to customer-facing teams when they need it."

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People.ai: automating sales and marketing tasks

People.ai: automating sales and marketing tasks

Startup: People.ai

Total raised: $38.6 million

What it does: People.ai is software for sales and marketing teams that uses machine learning to analyze customer information, find leads and integrate with email, calendar, audio.

VC who selected it: Peter Levine, Andreessen Horowitz

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: "There is a lot of buzz around machine learning, but very few companies truly deliver improved business results, and people.ai is one of those. Their machine learning platform truly augments human productivity (be it a sales rep or a marketing manager or a customer success manager) by automating mundane tasks," says Levine.

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6 River Systems: smarter warehouse robots

6 River Systems: smarter warehouse robots

Startup: 6 River Systems

Total raised: $46.7 million

What it does: Autonomous robots for warehouse operations

VC who selected it: Matt Murphy, Menlo Ventures

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: The second act for some former members of the Kiva team (bought by Amazon) these robots quickly pick items off warehouse shelves and "reduce mistakes, create higher worker job satisfaction," says Murphy.

The robots "use AI, integrated with the warehouse management system, to make the picking process more real time and based on demand trends and delivery terms," he says.

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SambaNova: new chips and platform for AI, ML

SambaNova: new chips and platform for AI, ML

Startup: SambaNova Systems

Total raised: $61 million

What it does: The point of artificial intelligence is that the computer is continuously learning and changing on its own.SambaNova is building new chips, hardware and a platform for AI, machine learning and big data analytics that can change and adapt to support this type of computing.

VC who selected it: Dave Munichiello, GV

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: The tech is based on the research of its two former Stanford professor cofounders. The third cofounder is a chip pioneer. One of the co-founders, Chris Re, previously founded Lattice, a GV-backed company acquired by Apple.

"Huge market. A+ team and founders. Tremendous interest from customers," says Munichiello. "AI and learning approaches are powering tremendous enterprise gains and will require new platforms to keep up."

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Shield.ai: drones saving lives by scanning dangerous places

Shield.ai: drones saving lives by scanning dangerous places

Startup: Shield AI

Total raised: $24 million

What it does: Shield AI builds robots and drones that autonomously search buildings and dangerous sites while simultaneously streaming video and generating maps for military sites, construction, oil and gas fields.

VCs who selected it: Sarah Tavel, Benchmark; and Peter Levine, Andreessen Horowitz

Relationship to the startup: Levine is an investor. Tavel is not, she just thinks it's cool.

Why it's hot in 2019: "They provide an artificial intelligence platform that helps save our service members and innocent civilians," says Levine.

"It will be interesting to see how the Shield team accelerates the development and deployment of their AI products, especially in a high risk environment that protects service members and innocent civilians," says Tavel.

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Superhuman: smarter, faster email

Superhuman: smarter, faster email

Startup: Superhuman

Total raised: $13 million

What it does: Superhuman intends to be what email would look like if it were built today. It bills itself as the "fastest email experience" and includes features like AI inbox help, undo send, follow-up reminders, scheduled messages, and read statuses.

VC who selected it: Santi Subotovsky, Emergence Capital

Relationship to the startup: No relation. Just thinks it's cool.

Why it's hot in 2019: "Email needs to be reinvented. It's unbelievable that the most popular email clients - Gmail, Yahoo - haven't updated their interfaces in decades, costing the world tens of millions of wasted hours every year," Subotovsky says. "Superhuman is on the right path, and I'm excited to see them breakout in 2019."

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Transfix: Transforming the $800 billion trucking industry

Transfix: Transforming the $800 billion trucking industry

Startup: Transfix

Total raised: $131 million

What it does: Transfix is a freight marketplace that companies use to hire trucks from carriers, in the $800 billion trucking industry. It uses AI to match loads with carriers.

VC who selected it: Ben Narasin, NEA

Relationship to the startup: Investor

Why it's hot in 2019: "Everything on the planet other than babies is delivered by truck," says Narasin. "Transfix is bringing this antiquated industry into the real time, tech-enabled world and making life better for drivers, shippers and carriers in the process while saving the planet from tremendous waste."

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