Jack Saper understands that employees don't always want to use the company's enterprise software. From his perspective, getting people to regularly engage with applications may require a more individual approach. Given the rise of cloud-based computing and remote work arrangements, he might be onto something.
As a partner with Emergence Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, he merges his love for technology with his passion for entrepreneurship to find the most promising startups. This is why he is choosing to invest in a number of AI-driven startups that will transform the way people interact with their software.
“Our hypothesis is that cloud software will become more and more personalized, it will become hyper-tailored to me as the employee,” said Saper. “And we call… [these] coaching networks.”
Saper believes these coaching networks will replace the more the conventional in-person, onsite training most employees are familiar with at work. With the rise of remote work options, there will be fewer opportunities to meet in a shared geographical space and be in contact across time zones. A virtual coach, powered by its understanding of best practices and customized by user-provided data, would always be available to support employees in meaningful ways.
Vymo is one such example – a smartphone sales app that tracks a sales staff's movements while they are out of office. By using a variety of machine learning methods, it will make suggestions related to the employee's workload, such as visiting a prospective client if they are driving in a nearby location.
“You have to build the product in such a way it drives really heavy usage,” Saper explained of Vymo’s offerings. “Usage will determine the success of these products, because usage begets more data which makes the product better and better.”
Saper comes to this kind of work quite honestly. He grew up in Austin, Texas, with parents he describes as serial co-founders. After starting his first business going door-to-door to sell rocks piled in his radio flyer, he was hooked. Twenty years later, he ventured farther from home to launched a startup that built solar power plants in India, Africa and the Middle East. They were a tough crowd, he said, but he learned a lot about accepting help and rolling with rejection.
His first paying job was as a management consultant with Booz & Company, where he advised Fortune 500 companies on strategic engagements in the energy sector. His start with venture came with his position at Kleiner Perkins before moving on to Emergence in 2014. Saper became a Kauffman Fellow in 2015 and participated in the apprentice-based mentorship program for up-and-coming venture capital professionals until 2017. He has served as a board director with tech companies Vymo and Guru and as a board observer with Textio, Ironclad, and Drone Deploy.
Saper graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in political science and international studies from Yale University. He also attended Stanford University, where he received his MS in environment & resources and his MBA in 2014.