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Blackhorn Ventures Leads the $10M Series A for Datch: Empowering the Industrial Workforce Through Voice and AI

Blackhorn Ventures is proud to announce our latest investment in Voice AI startup Datch, with participation from existing investors Blue Bear Capital and Stage Venture Partners and joining existing investors Boeing HorizonXPredictive Venture PartnersLorimer VenturesForum VenturesRannapo PartnersIcehouse VenturesRight Side Capital Management, and Plug and Play Tech Center. Using a highly adaptable artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) engine to allow field employees to complete workflows and capture field observations in real-time using voice, Datch offers on-the-fly data collection for industrial workers across utilities, energy, manufacturing, mining and aviation.

With this investment, Blackhorn further deepens our commitment to companies making groundbreaking developments in resource optimization and efficiency. Datch allows frontline workers to speed up their processes by 90%, and is adaptive across an array of workflows, from maintenance management through to safety, quality, operations, and business intelligence. Using simple integrations to connect to existing in-house systems, Datch identifies and obtains high-quality, structured knowledge data, driving higher uptime, increased productivity and top line revenue for an industrial workforce under increasing pressure.

The Problem

In today’s industrial environment, deskless workers use outdated technology (pen and paper for most & laptop terminals for the lucky few) to collect data – and as a result, the quality of data captured by frontline workers can be low-quality, inaccurate, quickly outdated and unactionable. Companies are faced with day-to-day challenges related to the lack of structured data (Accenture estimates that ~80% of enterprise data is unstructured) which inherently limit broader AI adoption. In an attempt to solve for this, frontline workforces are being asked to become digital workers, but they lack the requisite time and skills to keep up with these demands. Deskless workers make up 80% of the world’s workforce, and need digital solutions that enhance data collection without disrupting their hands-on, day-to-day work.

Credit: The Deskless Workforce, presented by Emergence Capital

The Solution

Datch has built an AI voice interface that allows workers to talk through their jobs conversationally and in real-time, while structuring and routing that information to their system records. The Datch platform is powered by a highly adaptable natural language processing (NLP) engine. This provides frontline workers with a digital workspace that allows them to capture and transmit information securely and syndicate it appropriately for the highest and best use case. Using Datch’s platform, deskless workers who typically spend 1-2 hours per day on digital processes can reduce that time spent by 75-90%. Teams using Datch’s optimized voice user experience (VUX) are able to capture 180-400% more data, meaning more detail and clarity in reports.

Credit: Datch Website

The Market Opportunity

Datch is targeting a $6.2B market in Work Management Processes. Most industrial organizations have begun investing heavily into digital transformation. However, lack of operational efficiency and poor data quality impede their ability to gain the insights they need to improve on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), asset life extension, and the upskilling of their workforces. Their goal is to provide industrial enterprise customers with the toolkit to map their unique processes and connect Datch to their systems-of-record with ease. Datch is initially focusing on utilities, manufacturing, aviation and mining as their beachhead markets; Datch counts ConEdSingapore AirlinesABB Robotics and the New York Power Authority among its clients. Down the road, management’s plan is to expand into other sectors such as transportation and construction.

The Market Traction

Since Datch’s last funding round in mid-2020, the company has made significant progress in securing deals and revenue. They’ve acquired 10 enterprise customers, seen a 1000% growth in revenue, and continued construction of a pipeline that will allow them to reach significant year-over-year revenue in the coming years. As a capital-efficient software play, Datch is able to capture high margins and has a broad market to grow into. They are ready to scale and are in a strong position to ramp up sales growth. Series A funding will be used to expand Datch’s platform capabilities, introduce new integration tools, and scale enterprise operations and support. 

The Impact Opportunity

Datch addresses UN Sustainable Development Goal 8 which seeks to achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labor-intensive sectors. Datch connects the workforce with broader company systems, improving the data capture process for deskless workers and creating structured data to improve the overall efficiency of the business. They provide a core enhancement for frontline workers to improve their output without disrupting their hands-on, day-to-day work.

The Team

With previous experience in aircraft, submarine, and national scale energy projects, the team has extensive boots-on-the-ground exposure to field work, and the technical know-how to bring a new product to market that leverages data integrations and product-led growth.

CEO Mark Fosdike has a masters degree in Aerospace Vehicle Design from Cranfield University and work experience at CAV Aerospace and ASC. CTO Ben Purcell and CPO Aric Thorn both studied electrical engineering at the University of Canterbury, where they graduated with honors, then worked together at Siemens and Transpower. The current team of 20 is poised for growth. If you’re interested in  redefining the technology landscape through voice technology to improve how we live and work, check out careers at Datch here.

CEO – Mark Fosdike 

CTO – Ben Purcell

CPO – Aric Thorn

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