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Chinese tech giant Tencent backed AI startup SenSat in a $10 million funding round after seeing this pitch deck


James Dean and Harry Atkinson, co-founders of SenSat

Summary List Placement
  • Launched in 2018, AI startup SenSat has already raised $10 million in a Series A fundraising round led by Tencent. 
  • The London-based firm uses drones and AI to create 'digital twin' versions of real-world environments, which can then be used in construction and other industries to improve efficiency. 
  • The firm says it has seen a year of significant growth in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Global infrastructure investment will hit $94 trillion by 2040, according to figures from the European Infrastructure Contractors Federation. 
  • CEO James Dean gave Business Insider an exclusive look at the pitch deck his company used to woo Tencent and other investors. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

SenSat, the AI startup digitizing real-world locations, raised $10 million in a fundraising round led by Tencent last year – and says it has gone from strength to strength ever since. 

The company, based in London and launched in 2018, uses drones, satellites and AI to create "digital twins" of physical environments, mapping them out in machine-readable datasets. This enables largely offline industries, such as construction, to make large-scale improvements in waste generation, cost-efficiency and carbon reduction. 

The firm recently announced it had doubled its team in the past year, with a focus on bringing in a breadth of experience across product development, operations and marketing.

Key appointments including Michele Battelli as Chief Product Officer, Sophie Carter as Chief Revenue Officer, and Maria Hudson as Chief Marketing Officer.

Around $94 trillion worth of investment will be needed to keep pace with expected economic and demographic changes, according to figures from the EIC, and SenSat's technology could save this and other industries significant amounts of money. 

In one example of SenSat's recent work, the company worked on a project with the UK's National Grid, digitizing a 52km underground transmission line as part of an offshore wind farm project. The firm says its input reduced time spent on-site by 200%, and vastly reduced the impact on local wildlife through the use of less invasive methods.

James Dean, SenSat cofounder and CEO, told Business Insider how they got Tencent's attention. "It was really funny, actually. We had only recently closed our seed round, and we weren't in any rush to start fundraising again," he said.

"But in the process of that initial fundraising, we had got quite a lot of attention and had a number of meetings, meaning many of these relationships were already in place.

"One of the firms we met was Tencent, who essentially just came out and said: 'How can we get early access to your Series A?'"

Dean says conversations with its Series A investors, which also include Sistema Venture Capital, were over in a matter of weeks – but getting all the requisite paperwork delayed them officially closing the round by a few months.

And how has it been having a tech giant like Tencent on board?

"We've basically been left alone to do our own thing," says Dean. "Which is exactly what we wanted... Once you've established a connection with people, it becomes much easier to meet up with them and learn from them in a way that suits you."

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Dr Ling Ge, Tencent's chief European representative, said SenSat "aligned well" with its ambitions for its own cloud and "smart industries" divisions. "We believe SenSat is well-positioned to introduce mass digital automation to offline industries that have not yet engaged in the digital revolution."

Take a look at the company's redacted pitch deck in full below:

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