Announcing TechU Fund I

I am happy to share that TechU raised our first dedicated $10M venture capital fund this past week. We plan to use the capital to continue supporting deeptech entrepreneurs across the globe. Since 2014 we have helped entrepreneurs get started and have seen them build foundational companies that have already made serious impact and will continue to transform the world. These include companies like Bevi, LedgerX, Accion Systems, Ayar Labs, Multiply Labs, ReviveMed, and RemoteHQ. We now have a bit more money to support more entrepreneurs and do it on a larger scale.

I would like to thank our LPs for their strong support and for their good vibes. We are fortunate to be backed by smart-money investors, over 40% of whom are entrepreneurs with at least one successful exit of $100M (or more), 88% of whom held high C-level positions at major organizations, and 95% of whom are serial angel/seed investors.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the support of our Venture Partners Sonny, Alexander, and Srid who continue to serve as trusted advisors to myself and our portfolio companies, and who bring tremendous insights to our weekly discussions.

If you or any of your friends/colleagues are working on a deeptech startup or idea that fits our thesis, I would encourage you to reach out –

Time to get to work.

TechU Investment Thesis

Patient seed capital focused on supporting effective entrepreneurs building deep-technology platforms that create an unfair advantage (“secret sauce”) and serve as the bedrock for foundational companies that will transform markets and industries.

TechU Dictionary

  • Patient – we expect it will take 7-10 years to fully build your company to a successful outcome. We will be your partners for the long haul and expect you to be fully committed.
  • Seed – pre-seed, seed, Pre-A (and whatever new term they will come up with over the next few years)
  • Effective entrepreneurs – not only work hard, but work smart. Get things done and exhibit an ability to lead others effectively and sell your vision to key stakeholders.
  • Deep-technology – one that is difficult to build, whose knowledge is possessed by a limited few, and will not be easily replicated.
  • Platforms – hardware, software, both, or something else.
  • Secret sauce – the nature of the tech combined with the knowledge of the entrepreneurs means others will have a hard time competing.
  • Foundational companies – those that are meaningful, provide value to their customers and society, and forever change the way things get done.

It’s important to note that we are not looking to focus on opportunities that are hot today, but focused on identifying entrepreneurs who have a strong vision of where the world will be 5 to 10 years from now. If you are building a deep-tech platform, have a strong team, operating in a growing market, and possess an informed opinion that goes against the grain, we want to hear from you and learn from your experience.

Our current checks range in size from $250K to $2.0M per opportunity and we are investing out of an active fund (closed Q2 2019) and other vehicles. Please reach out and let’s get the conversation started –

Ayar Labs – kicking butt

I’m very proud of our portfolio company Ayar Labs, and founders Alex, Mark, and Chen who have recently closed a massive $24M Series A round led by Playground Group, Intel Capital, GlobalFoundries, and FoundersFund. TechU participated in the initial seed round back in 2016 and also in this round earlier in the summer. Glad this finally closed so we can announce it. The company is at the forefront of building optical chips which will allow data centers to operate at the speed-of-light end-to-end. Their technology will change the world, but it’s only at the beginning. Up-up-and-away!

Optical Chip Startup Ayar Labs Raises $24 Million To Boost Data Speeds

Ayar Labs has a chip solution for data centers that boosts performance while dramatically cutting energy costs. They just raised $24 million to scale it.

Video: The state of deep tech in 2018

I was recently invited to participate on a panel on the deep tech ecosystem hosted by BostInno at Analog Devices together with Leila Pirhaji of ReviveMed (a TechU portfolio company), Patrick O’Dougherty of Analog Garage, Matt Duffy of Climacell, and Jason Whaley of Rhapsody Venture Partners.

The event was attended by many local deep tech entrepreneurs from the Boston community and brought out some interesting discussion points.

Some of the topics I elaborated on include:

  1. Intro to TechU and our deep tech focus (1:50)
  2. How we determine the value of the deep tech component of a startup and how entrepreneurs should communicate the value of their technology to investors (7:43)
  3. The importance of entrepreneurs testing the value of their technology with potential customers before pitching potential investors (13:54)
  4. Describing the investors’ role of guiding the startups that they fund. Difference between advice and an order. (24.42)
  5. The role of buzzwords in communicating your startup is trumped by the importance of having a secret sauce (32:33)

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.