Sunday, January 02, 2005

Advice from venture capitalist

An article by Andrew D. Smith, "Fledgling firm sees future in enzyme power source," [on the company PowerZyme] contains some information on what venture capitalists look for in the companies they invest in.

Quoting Kef Kasdin of Batelle, the article notes -->

First, we ask if there is a clear and definite market for what the company plans to sell.

Second, when dealing with a company that wants to enter an existing market, we ask if their product has clear advantages over the status quo.

Third, we ask if there is some barrier to entry, something that will prevent ofther companies from copying what our company does.

Fourth, we ask how much time the company will need to start generating revenue. Even as early stage investors we have no interest in putting money behind a rough idea that will take two decades to develop.

Fifth,, we ask if a company has a management team that can fulfill the company's potential.<--

Elsewhere in the article is sobering text:

-->The other number that may give observers pause about PowerZyme's prospects is the number zero -- ie, the number that comes from multiplying the number of local startups that boast world-changing, fortune-generating potential by the number that have actually changed the world or generated fortunes.

As this simple calculation demonstrates, no matter how promising the technology, no matter how compelling the idea, the vast majority of startups fail to achieve their world-changing goals.<--

Even inventors that change the world can receive unexpected endings. One recalls the fate of the Wright Brothers and Marconi, people with world-changing inventions that didn't quite turn out as the inventors foresaw. While on a trip to visit his patent lawyer about litigation, Wilbur Wright consumed tainted seafood in Boston, and died in a month, and Orville soon sold out the interests to investors. Marconi, an excellent businessman, was forced out of the American market, which proceeded to take off in the 1920's. The inventor of the disk operating system (Kildall) had a rather sad end.


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