Friday, October 10, 2003

Some Foresight Insights

foresightJust attended a venture capital forum at the Foresight Conference, featuring a discussion by some of the top VCs interested in spending money on such a high-risk technology. The panelists were Jim Von Ehr of Zyvex, Alex Wong of Apax, Alan Marty of JP Morgan and Steve Jurvetson of DFJ, one of the earliest investors in nanotech. I'm still going through my notes and I'll have more to say on it later, but here are a couple of quick impressions before I head off to a policy forum in about 15 minutes:

Most nanotech companies are not ready for VC money, so forget about it, and try the government's Advanced Technology Program grants before it falls prey to politics.

Nobody cares if you have a great idea. Build a prototype, then you'll see some VC excitement (if the prototype works, of course).

These money guys will not fund your long-range vision to completely reinvent the felt-tip pen industry (or whatever). Find a near-term business opportunity with an already-existing market and manufacturing technique, then you might get funded to take your vision to the next level.

Wong: "We love product companies."

Jurvetson: "Revenue is all the rage again."

Marty: (I'm paraphrasing here) Don't make a product. Make a product that will become the building block of somebody else's product.

One more thought from Marty: The stuff you're reading the press right now: You know, the nanobots and nano-enhanced weapons and paint that changes color according to your mood, and the cure for cancer and pollution? None of that exists right now, and none of it is being funded by VCs. They're looking at products like nanocoatings that enhance existing products -- not the stuff that inspires social revolution or sensational headlines, but does inspire real money from these guys.

OK. Gotta go.

Wait, one more thing: A nano businessguy arrives late: "I just got here this nanosecond!" Bunch of real nanocards here. Bye for now.


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