Pangaea Blog

Pangaea invests in early stage cleantech companies with world-class advanced materials innovation.

Prying Open the Licensing Toolkit

Posted by on in Venture Capital

As discussed last week in my blog entitled Add Licensing to your Business Model Toolkit, licensing is an important tool for the advanced materials start-up CEO. However as I pointed out last week, concerns about value capture and loss of market influence cannot be ignored if the goal is to build a valuable and important business capable of generating venture capital returns. Furthermore, when licensing technologies in energy or industrial markets that often place less value on IP compared to IP-centric businesses such as IT and biotech., deal creativity can be the order of the day. The four tactics described below should be considered in formulating a start-up company licensing strategy:

Venture capital investments in “hardware” companies such as advanced materials start-ups have typically focused on productization and scale-up as the key value creation activities. Partnering in the form of joint ventures, joint development or distribution agreements have traditionally been the business model of choice. Licensing models are often shunned with the argument being that you leave money on the table and your ability to influence is lost while fate is determined by corporate and market forces beyond your control. Valid points! But these issues can often be mitigated and should be weighed against the advantages of licensing, of course in the context of the market dynamics and industry structure that is faced.

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post about the advantages of including women in your team. If you're interested in reading about how your team WILL BE smarter, I encourage you to check it out here: Women: A Start-up’s Secret Weapon.

An opinion piece I read in a national newspaper this morning has prompted me to pen a quick follow up. Not to discuss how we can make our teams smarter, but how we can encourage more women to engage with technology and take a real leadership role in engaging with 'change the world' opportunities. Tenaciousness, take-charge attitudes, and leadership skills (also sometimes known as bossiness) are all qualities men and women alike must develop if they desire to be successful entrepreneurs (I'll expand on this shortly).

No NDAs, Please, We're VCs!

Posted by on in Venture Capital

This morning, a start-up company sent their first email to me after a warm introduction from a great former colleague of mine. I was quite positively predisposed to giving this opportunity some close attention, since I think quite highly of my buddy's judgment, and the company's technology put them well within Pangaea's advanced materials mandate.

Like a kid on Christmas, I didn't read the message, but immediately tore off the wrapping paper. The sole attachment to the email was a PDF, which I assumed to be their slide deck presentation, and I was eager to be blown away by the amazing technical and business innovation I hoped to find inside. What could it be!?!?

You know the Chinese finger trap? It's a tube of bamboo woven in such way that it tightens up if you pull on it. The idea is you put your fingers in, but the harder you try to pull them out, the tighter the trap will grip you. And it was the only thing my daughter wanted me to bring back as a souvenir of China.

Pangaea has been an investor into China for a few years now, having co-led the Series A into Cnano, now the world leading supplier of multi-walled carbon nanotubes, mostly used in battery or composite plastics applications. But when I heard the reciprocal might be possible – i.e. China investing in Pangaea – I had to check it out.