Jessy is Partner at AfterWork Ventures, a $20 million community-powered VC fund that invests in pre-seed and seed-stage startups. A sector-agnostic fund that invests globally, the team pools diverse skills, functional knowledge, and networks to punch above their weight in terms of quality of deal flow, due diligence, and portfolio company support. Jessy sat with VC Catalyst alumnus Garry Williams to emphasise the short and long-term focus for a team that enjoys peering into the future.

On unlocking new waves of innovation as the bandwidth for digital world interactions increases

A platform shift that I’m excited by – a new ‘form factor’ that I think is on the verge of widespread adoption and a proliferation of use cases – is what people are referring to as spatial computing.

It is, in some ways, a rebrand of virtual reality and augmented reality (AR). Instead of channelling your interactions with the digital world through a screen such as a mobile or laptop, spatial computing hardware (e.g. Vision Pro googles, haptic chairs) provides a much more immersive, intuitive and fast – with eye movements and hand gestures to express your intent and manipulate digital objects.

The democratisation of tech can usher in platform shifts

I think that companies that started building in this space many years ago and shored up relationships with Apple, for example, or have put a lot of thought into designing for Apple Vision Pro have an advantage.

Australian company JigSpace is an example of that. The founders are deep experts in spatial, having built software for this space for over a decade. They’ve worked hand in glove with Apple and have been a featured prominently in Apple Vision Pro keynotes and product demos, helping people and enterprises understand how they can utilise the technology for their own purposes.

Now that the Apple Vision Pro is out in the world, the developer AR kits that have been released alongside it make it easier for people to build spatial experiences on top of the modules that Apple has already built. The barrier to entry is lower, and suddenly, you don’t need as much technical ability in-house because you can build on top of newly existing tech.

Sending the bat signal out regarding investment thesis interests

I’ve spoken about my excitement in spatial computing on panels and posted about it. This creates excellent conversations with founders, who become excited that they don’t have to build my conviction in the space from scratch so that we can enter a deeper conversation about the future.

‘For me, I would take the opportunity to express my thought process on industries as ‘Hi, I’m interested in X. A lot of the companies working in this space struggle with Y, but I’m still curious if somebody has thought deeply about these objections and overcome them.’

I see a two-step filter being created because you’re expressing interest but then erecting a little bit of a bar that founders know they have to surmount to pique your interest. Being able to communicate this well can really bolster your mental availability as an investor who’s thinking rigorously about X or Y.

To build the conviction to champion the deal

When a deal is brought to our investment committee, it’s on that deal lead to say, ‘This is what I needed to build conviction to champion this deal.’

That would entail a market size large enough and realistic enough for that company to capture enough market share to step up to $100 million in revenue within 8 to 10 years. And whatever else you might need to build conviction – that the go-to-market motion is scalable and repeatable and can progress beyond founder-led sales and that early adopter cohort.

‘At AfterWork Ventures we establish a framework that we’re building conviction against, then methodically go and map the steps required to see how founders can address this as part of their pitch process diligence.’

Approaching storytelling in the public forum

Telling stories can move people and galvanise them in different ways. I’ve tried to stay true to being courageous, a truth-teller, and a leader with heart, but also to call a spade a spade where qualified and appropriate.

Over the years, people have said to me, ‘ Hey, you have set this example of what it could look like to not bite my tongue because I’m afraid of the downside of saying something.’

So, I seek to speak the truth in an optimistic, balanced, and fair-minded way and advocating for people to call out injustice when they see it.

I don’t always get it right – I know that! But I’m keen to keep learning and keep refining how I can be the most effective version of somebody who tells stories with heart.