Sparking Innovation

Posted by on in Venture Capital

There are few career paths I can think of that are more challenging than trying to launch a new venture whose success is centered around the development and subsequent roll-out of a new technology. We have countless success stories to point to, and entrepreneurs who are revered, almost worshipped, … but what is often left out is truly how long it took, and how much money (including academic research dollars, grants, and private capital) was required to get there.

The Only Woman In The Room

Posted by on in Venture Capital

When Fortune magazine released an update to their 2014 study on women in venture capital last month concluding that (big surprise) not much has changed, I was asked to write a follow up to a blog I wrote 2 years ago titled “women: a start-up’s secret weapon”. You can access this posting here – but the key takeaway is that studies have shown when you add a woman (or a few of them) to your team, the intelligence of the group rises. Shocking right?

Since the initial 2014 study – women are still grossly underrepresented in venture capital (if you can even call 4% at the senior levels representation), not to mention in STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) companies across the board. 

You may have noticed we changed the website recently. Good opportunity to write a blog to explain in more detail!  Pangaea's been focused on advanced materials venture capital since its first fund launched. Every investment we've made since 2003 has been exclusively in advanced materials. However, the way we look at the sectors has evolved over time. For our third fund, launched in 2011, we had five different areas of interest, three of which were in energy (generation, storage and efficiency), with the other two being sustainable materials / processes and environmental. Now, four years into that fund, we can look at most of its portfolio (we still have dry powder to do a few more deals this year) and see most of the investments have been in the non-energy areas. Indeed, most of our deal flow has come from the non-energy sectors.

An article published recently on forbes.com by Martin Zwilling highlights his recommendations for “10 calculated risks that lead to startup success”. This article, like so many others, provides some great insights for wannabe or existing founders and entrepreneurs. However, what if you’re in a business that is more capital intensive, has longer iteration cycles or addresses more complicated problems. Say, involving materials or chemistry development?

What's in a Name?

Posted by on in Venture Capital

A while back, Pangaea General Partner Keith Gillard wrote a blog about our proactive approach to generating dealflow and evaluating potential solutions to identified market needs (found here). A consequence of this proactive strategy is that we interact with a whole lot of startup companies from around the world. While the majority of these companies are attempting to commercialize exciting materials technologies to solve some of the world’s bigger problems, we tend to be quite selective in where we place our money. For a typical VC, the percentage of companies invested in compared to companies evaluated is 1% or less. There are many reasons for this, ranging from a lack of confidence in the management team’s ability to execute to technology differentiation to IP concerns to expected long time horizons to revenue generation and possible exit.