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  • Writer's pictureDenis Kalyshkin

A minute of motivation to support DeepTech

I’ve spent my holiday season reflecting on life and setting goals for the next year. It’s surprising how the pandemic changed the world. One of the positive aspects is that many people spent their time thinking about their future, educating themselves, changing jobs, or doing what they dreamed of for a long time.

The venture capital market has also changed. As a physicist, I am especially happy about the growing investment trend in DeepTech. Of course one of the main drivers for that is that too much money pursues too few good deals and valuations are growing like crazy.There is also a human factor. First of all many people, including VCs, felt helpless in the face of cataclysms that you couldn't overcome using IT. A lot of people just thought about their lives and what comes next. For example, I spoke with a representative of a family office at one of the events that began to invest in medical startups. When I asked her why they started investing in this sector, she replied: “You can have all the money on the planet, but you still sit in a villa and cannot enjoy your life. We decided to do something meaningful”.

I also came across an interesting segment of people. They have a broad expertise in their sector and they would like to do something for society or just change their lives for the better, and at the same time underestimate themselves. Sometimes such people don’t see alternatives they have. I see also strong future entrepreneurs which are a bit cautious to make their first move. I want to encourage you, because I see your potential.

Today I would like to wish

- VCs: Sometimes you don’t invest in very complex technologies since you’re limited by our investment mandate. But there are other opportunities to support important sectors by investing as business angels, supporting those start-ups with your network, or simply spreading the word about useful grants, acceleration programs, etc.

- Business angels: I believe you became business angels not only for profit. You were also looking for opportunities to change the world or support entrepreneurs like you. You are more flexible than VC’s in terms of your investment mandate. You can support high-tech start-ups not only with your advice and network, but also investing in them. Even if you allocate 10% of your portfolio to this sector co-investing with other business angels you can affect the market. Keep in mind the basic law of economics: to get exceptional returns you need to do what others are afraid of.

- Startup founders: Thank you for your hard work. You made many concepts from Sci-Fi films of my childhood a reality. I wish you to scale your business, expand to new geographies, and raise money on favorable terms. I’d also like to remind you that the best mentor for an entrepreneur is another entrepreneur who was at the same stage 1-2 years ago. You can tremendously contribute if you allocate 1-2 hours a week to help those who follow you.

- Future founders: I regularly meet people who are launching the 10th version of the copycut solution. Think about it, you will face tremendous competition. Perhaps there is a more effective use of time and skill set. Take a look for opportunities in the emerging DeepTech sector. This sector is in need for strong business people. You will pick the necessary expertise along the way and hire a strong CTO. The barrier to entry is high, but it’s not as high as you think. For example, I’ve met the founder of a quantum technology startup. Prior to founding it he had 10+ years in consulting and running his own small business. Then at some point he got bored and decided to try something new. He met his friend from a colleague who was in a quantum lab. He started as a hobby to participate in relevant events and absorb relevant information. One day his friend said: “Face it. It’s not a hobby any longer. Let’s build a business around it.” This startup has already raised several million dollars by the way.

- Employees: Sometimes you don't even have to change your job or start a business to change the world. A great journey starts with a first step. You can become a volunteer in some organization, initiate an internal project in your company, become a mentor for someone, or host webinars or networking events for people in the sector which is important for you.

- Students: You are the most flexible group of our society. Soon enough you will be the majority of the population. You will set technological trends and change the industry landscape. Your hard skills, your values, and your actions will define the world in 10, 20, 50 years. Make wise choices, master your hard skills, take mentors to grow faster, and help others. I was inspired by a story of a first year student I recently met. She decided to pursue a career in biological and medical physics since she saw a long term trend for it thanks to the pandemics.

I would like to finish this article with an idea I heard at the SeedStars panel discussion (an accelerator that supports startups in developing countries): “Anyone can become an ecosystem builder.” To start doing something especially in post-COVID world you don’t need large financial resources. You need a desire to change the status quo and take the first steps. I was very impressed with the history of the American Cancer Society. It was founded in 1913 by 10 doctors and 5 businessmen who decided to cure cancer. At that time the annual budget for cancer treatment in New York was only $100,000. They did not succeed in curing cancer completely, but humanity has made significant progress in solving this problem.

Original article was published at my LinkedIn here.

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