Founded in 2022, Ten Key Labs is the company behind Mantle, the platform to simplify financial flows for founders and operators. Powered by AI, Mantle helps executives keep on top of their company ownership with the ease a founder would expect and the sophistication a professional would require. Ten Key Labs is backed by a host of investors, including Eniac, Craft Ventures, Vaynerfund, Sierra Ventures, and Leaders Fund.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a Co-Founder and the CEO at Ten Key Labs (makers of Mantle).
I started my tech journey working in Silicon Valley’s semiconductor industry, where I contributed to several essential technologies, including the PC graphics card and the USB1.0 interface. After stints at both public and private companies, I joined a VC firm where my passion for entrepreneurship blossomed.
Since then, I have founded several companies and funded hundreds of others. I’m always looking for a challenge and cultivating solutions where current gaps exist.
Previous companies founded include Xtreme Labs (acquired by Pivotal, which went public and was acquired by VMware), Hatch Labs (parent company of Tinder acquired by Interactive Corp (IAC)), and Autonomic (acquired by Ford Motor Company).
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to stay aware of the bigger picture. It’s important to look at your business as a whole and know for yourself the details, to view your business with a critical eye and be open to progress, which is sometimes not linear.
Something I tell new founders is that, fundamentally, you should always work in your business, not just on it. Everyone is always working to make their product or offering the best thing it can be and building the magic behind it. As a founder, we sign up to work on the business as a craft – trying to evolve the look/feel/shape of our craft to be better – and to be better, we need to embrace and learn from failure. That’s the lesson here: you should be okay taking one step back in order to take three steps forward.
What problem does your business solve?
Many founders begin their startup journey with a small team and a specific idea in mind, but eventually, the business grows, and that growth means that things can get complicated quickly. As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In this case, that power requires founders to manage tons of administrative and financial functions – things like fundraising docs, cap tables, equity issuance, signings, etc.
When I was a brand new founder (and still to this day), I was searching for a tool that could help me manage these tasks so that I could focus on the core functions of my business. But I never found a platform or tool that could do this without being so complicated and bloated that using it was just as much of a hassle, and that’s why we built Mantle.
Ultimately, Mantle is an assistant and collaborative workflow tool for founders to operate high-growth startup businesses. Mantle leverages AI technology to streamline and automate workflow and collaboration. The platform was built to be forward-looking – to help eliminate costly mistakes and relieve the unnecessary mental load that often comes with starting a new venture.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
As a serial founder and investor in hundreds of companies, I have direct experience dealing with the operational aspects of launching a startup. I am intimately familiar, at times painfully so, with the significance of getting all the details right. I noticed that existing solutions, whether as simple as spreadsheets or as advanced as SaaS tools, still required founders to manually input a substantial amount of information and scour their files and emails to gather all the necessary data. This realization sparked the idea of merging my entrepreneurial expertise with the latest AI technology to offer founders a tool that lets them focus on building their companies. My aim was to create a platform that not only saved founders time but also eased the mental burden of managing company equity stakes across multiple platforms.
We built Mantle specifically for founders and operators of growing startups. It’s a platform that is created by founders for founders.
What is your magic sauce?
Mantle harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) to offer immediate, company-specific guidance based on a company’s financial data, location, jurisdiction, and pertinent market information. This distinctive functionality sets it apart from conventional financial management tools, which do not yet incorporate such features. Prior to Mantle, founders had to download their documents, meticulously review them line by line, and then interpret and analyze the content. Often, this process requires reaching out to other departments, such as legal or human resources. With Mantle’s “AI-Powered Co-Pilot,” this labour-intensive process has been automated. The platform can seamlessly scan various company documents, such as term sheets, to deliver concise, actionable recommendations. This is much more reliable than traditional manual processing, and the platform even provides responses in the form of easy-to-understand visualizations, like tables and graphs.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
The hype and excitement around AI have grown over the last year, but I expect that the AI frenzy will go through the same hype cycle that most emerging technologies of the past have gone through. The big winners in the space will be those who can leverage AI to streamline operations for the long term. Much like how the digitization of documents changed the game for administrative office work, AI can revolutionize how businesses are organized, managed, and operated.
We’ve built Mantle and equipped it with AI technology to help founders and business executives run their companies with automation at the forefront to simplify their lives.
Ultimately, our vision is to see AI streamline and optimize tasks that were traditionally “brute forced” by hand and turn them into automated workflows that require just a simple approval – our goal is to change the current system from brute force tasks to a seamless, easy-to-follow review process.
Today, we’ve already achieved this for company equity management. Over the next five years, we hope to bring this success to other parts of the investment landscape.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Building a new company, from inception to production, is always hard. I have great respect for those who put themselves out there and rise to the challenge of building their own business in hopes that they can make the world a better place.
For me, the biggest challenge I face right now is making Mantle the standard product that’s used by founders to simplify their equity management workflow. Mantle is a game-changer for founders and business executives, but the difficulty is getting mindshare for those whom this product will make a difference and convincing them to use this new technology instead of the traditional tools they’re used to. We rise to this challenge every day, and we won’t stop until we get there and remain there.
How can people get involved?
We just opened up Mantle’s public waitlist! To learn more, you can reach out to us via our website at www.withmantle.com and “request a demo.”