Commercializing deep tech startups: A practical guide for founders and investors

Commercializing deep tech startups: A practical guide for founders and investors

Vin Lingathoti

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Vin Lingathoti is a companion at Cambridge Innovation Capital, the place he focuses on expertise investments. A software program engineer by background, Vin has spent greater than a decade in Silicon Valley working with tech firms. Before becoming a member of CIC, he led enterprise investments and acquisitions for Cisco Systems in London and San Jose.

As a deep tech investor, I’ve usually observed that deep tech startups undergo a unique evolution cycle than a typical B2B or B2C firm.

Accordingly, the challenges they face alongside the way in which are completely different — commercialization tends to be extra advanced and founders are sometimes required to strategy it in a different way.

Deep tech firms are often constructed round a novel expertise that gives vital advances over current options out there; usually they create new markets that don’t but exist. Taking these applied sciences from “lab to market” requires substantial capital carrying a a lot larger diploma of danger than a median enterprise funding.

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The majority of VCs are sometimes stunned by the quantity of complexity concerned in constructing a profitable deep tech firm.

Typically, the underlying mental property (IP) of a deep tech firm is exclusive and exhausting to recreate, leading to a big aggressive benefit.

High danger, excessive reward

Since most deep tech firms are constructed round a basically new and unproven expertise, they carry larger danger. Typically, the tech has been examined in a lab or a analysis middle and the early outcomes are due to this fact usually derived in a managed atmosphere. As a outcome, whereas constructing a product, founders are prone to encounter technical challenges alongside the way in which and received’t have the ability to get rid of the expertise danger till later within the course of.

By comparability, if an organization is constructing a market for used vehicles, for instance, the expertise danger is nearly zero. Deep tech firms have the aptitude to create new markets with little competitors and may exchange current applied sciences whereas basically remodeling an trade.

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Microsoft, Nvidia, ARM, Intel and Google had been all deep tech startups to start with. These firms will nearly at all times require larger capital, carry larger danger and have longer time to return on funding.

However, if profitable, they may ship outsized returns over a median enterprise funding.

Technology-first strategy

An apparent, however basic distinction with deep tech firms is their technology-first strategy. Typically, the founder has developed a novel expertise or IP as a part of their Ph.D. thesis or postdoc work and is in seek for a real-world drawback it could actually remedy. Most startups, basically, decide an current drawback in a market they know nicely and develop a product that solves for that drawback they usually have a transparent sense of the issue they should remedy.

Deep tech entrepreneurs take the alternative strategy and because of this they usually endure from SISP (an answer seeking an issue), as Y Combinator calls it. Founders want to concentrate on this and should be keen to pivot and repivot primarily based on market and buyer suggestions. Investors ought to be ready for this earlier than backing the corporate and assist the founders as they navigate via the challenges of constructing a profitable deep tech firm.

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