AI startup investment criteria

We’re all investing time or money — let’s make sure not to waste it

Will Murphy
5 min readJul 25, 2018

I started to collect a lot of criteria I thought was a good investment of my time and had a good chance of success based on experiences I’ve had creating a lot of products in the past (like social search, IoT, logistics, AI, and blockchain).

For this post I’m just focusing on 1) Applied AI startups that 2) want to make money reasonably soon. I will not include in this discussion: 1) Research AI startups that 2) get tens of millions (I would want at least $50MM) in order to spend a decade doing tech-driven R&D in hopes of a product (or acquisition) in the future. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just a different category.


Most of these criteria are useful for all startups, a few are particular to AI startups.

These are general thoughts/ guidelines — there will be counter examples/ anecdotes of startups that break most or all of these rules. They are however, useful guidelines to think through. And, you will want to customize them for your own situation.

AI Investment Criteria for Investors and Entrepreneurs

Is it a learning product? (product gets smarter with usage)
With an AI product…