Growing and leveraging deep technology solutions requires the support and buy-in from an entire ecosystem.
Here, we view it as the problem-driven application of advanced technologies to address large-scale issues. Practically, a 3-way approach involving Advanced Science, Engineering, and Design is required to identify the right problem set to be solved, the fundamental technology/ies to build on, and how solutions can be ramped up for large-scale delivery.
This session discusses how to navigate the large diversity of practices and challenges when developing problem-driven applications around advanced technologies; the pathway to product-market fit; attracting late-stage investment; and scaling/ building new capabilities.
Here are some highlights from the session that we hope you’ll find insightful!
Pathway to Product-Market Fit
Problem: Too many founders are putting too much time and money into the technology rather than speaking to their potential clients. They may have identified a problem that they solve, but it may not be a big-enough problem that the industry has in the first place.
Learn to think outside the box and acquire more commercial skills. Look at things from the investor/ customer perspective.
Learn to articulate the problem space and understand the size of the opportunity (What is the total addressable market for this? Where are the other competitors? What is unique about this technology? What is the intellectual agenda for the full pitch deck?)
Use Profit and Loss (P&L) analysis to find who has a money problem that needs to be solved.
Find opportunities and a safe environment to explore your technology before going to market.
Seek mentors who are willing to help and support you, but also not afraid to dish out some tough love.
Attracting Investment in Later Stages
Problem: 9 out of 10 startups spinoff from universities fail to raise money from VCs because their business models are weak or nonexistent.
The founding team needs to recognise that the company requires different expertise at different stages of growth, and that they might not have the required skill set. They should either step up and grow with the business or hand it over to a new team.
Successful founding teams know that they need to be coachable, mentally flexible, and willing to let go of their egos.
As the company matures, activities evolve (eg. pre-seed vs pre-IPO), and so must the team - both in terms of board and management, with very different skill sets to operate the company at each of these stages.
To succeed at the next stage, startups need to have a fleshed-out team of technical and commercial skill sets with a well-sharpened product and business plan.
Scaling - Governance and Building New Capabilities
Problem: Startups seldom have a well-rounded board, and that is a red flag for many investors.
Boards play a big role in providing oversight and ensuring the right management team is in place. They also play a more significant role in deep tech companies due to their B2B nature, as your board is going to be your loudspeaker and provide your startup with much-needed credibility.
The board also takes a more strategic view, stepping back from the day-to-day operations, and monitoring the quarterly or semi-annual performance of the company.
As processes get more complex, you don't have to do everything in-house. There are great expert groups that provide finance brokerage advice, market validation, or regulatory validation for a reasonable fee.
Periodically re-assessing the skill set that you are lacking or require for the future. Learn to embrace every hiring opportunity.
Special thanks to our speakers:
Sally-Ann Williams, CEO, Cicada Innovations
Dr. Ipshita Mandal-Johnson, Founding Partner & CEO, Global Bio Fund
Whether you managed to attend this session or not, let us know how we fared and the changes you'd like to see around here. Give us some candid feedback here.