On Seizing Opportunities, Big Data and Driver-less Cars – with Francisco Araujo


Picture this. You are in Finland holidaying with your family. You receive an unsolicited call from a man you’ve never met, who apparently went to the same business school as you. He proposes an investment opportunity on wearable computing devices and as you have no idea about angel investment, so you read a book on it over the weekend and thereafter decide to go for the opportunity. Cut to a few years later, this very investment turns to be your most successful exit yet.

Angel Investing

Francisco Araujo (INSEAD MBA ‘98J) admits that this is a classic case of how one should NOT invest and that he would never do that today. But in essence, it also underlines the power of networks and baseline trust implicit in certain networks, e.g. INSEAD alumni. Recon Instruments, a player to watch in B2B eye-devices, was eventually bought by Intel Corp and has the distinction of surviving where the likes of Google might have failed.

It is with Recon that Francisco started his angel investments. His portfolio focuses now on B2B tech companies, a world he’s well familiar with thanks to his high trajectory career with Microsoft and currently with Here Technologies.

“B2C has one thing that is super hard that you need a lot of marketing money to make a difference. If you don’t have it or if don’t get to scale quickly that allows you get big funds from VCs, then you are dead. The idea needs to have teeth enough to get big funds and also lose money, by the way.”

Geography and sector apart, Francisco seeks ambition in his investments: the ability to think big, global, about having a long term road-map and anticipating the obstacles one might face on the way, given that it’s (almost) never a linear way to glory.

Here Technologies, Big Data, Driver-less Cars and Drones

Changing gears, our conversation with Francisco moved towards geo-localisation, another subject where his passion is clearly visible. Think GPS, location based services and the fascinating world of drones, self-driving cars and smart cities.

Here Technologies (and its competitors including Google) are offering state-of-the-art mapping solutions for people to know where they are, get to where to want to be and get the most out of their location itself. Perhaps more interestingly, Here Technologies is also collecting a tremendous amount of data (anonymously of course!) shedding light on consumer behaviour. In that sense, they are more of a big-data company now than a mapping solutions provider, clearly a topic that’s only going to grow in prominence.

Excited about self-driving cars and drones?! Listen to Francisco offer a glimpse into the future here!

We thank Francisco for his time and really interesting insights!

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