Mavendi Reveals a Glimpse into the Liquid Labs Way

By David Knight |

When it was revealed earlier this year that top VC Paul Jozefak was launching a new project called Liquid Labs alongisde Michael Backes, it caused quite a stir. Just weeks later, Liquid Labs – a Skunk Works-style innovation lab – has already produced its first product, an expense managing tool called Mavendi.

The new service is an early glimpse into what Liquid Labs is trying to achieve; a platform for coming up with great ideas, identifying the best ones and encouraging their development.

It was all still very new when I grabbed a coffee with Paul last month ahead of the TWiST event at which he was a judge, and I took the chance to ask him about his new job.

He was clear on the approach Liquid Labs is taking: “The first and foremost goal of this thing is innovation, and it’s not innovation in the sense of what a VC or an incubator or an accelerator does… We’re trying to build projects, products, platforms to achieve all this. So we’ll get an environment where people who want to be entrepreneurial and want to build companies, and want to be hands on with a startup, can do this within a larger group.”

Mavendi is the first idea to emerge from a whittling down process, as Paul explained: “We’re looking to generate a funnel of ideas, 30 or 40 ideas to start with, and look at what makes sense, filter it down, screen it, a market research type of process, and pick three or four or five that we pursue per year.”

Amid a policy of staying away from the crowded e-commerce space, Mavendi offers users the ability to stay on top of expenses and receipts without having to access their bank accounts. Receipts are sent to a Mavendi email account, which automatically recognises and saves the information. A load more functionality will be added in te future, Paul said today, including the ability to scan receipts or send them in as PDF files. “Basically you dump all your receipts into Mavendi and it gives you a clear view of where you’ve been spending your money, categorised down to the line item. We’ve still got some work ahead of us though.”

Back in February, Paul revealed his firm belief that the novel approach taken by Liquid Labs will prove beneficial in the long run. “I think a lot of large companies that are trying to stay on the cutting edge would be well served in having a group that is free of the corporate clench. In our situation we have the freedom to try out as many ideas as we think makes sense, but we get the benefit of having support. If you were doing this completely on your own you might be shooting in all directions but without even knowing what the target is. This way you have a little bit of a course you want to be on.”

Whatever else Liquid Labs comes up with, it certainly promises to be innovative.