Pangaea Blog

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

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.

There is nothing the media loves better than making juice out of a government-funded lemon. FOX News managed to recycle the Solyndra flameout as lead story for months. But not everything touched by government turns to dust. When considering the risk-reward profile of materials and cleantech start-ups, in many cases government funding is REQUIRED along the path to success. While the shenanigans in DC over the last week have shown that rationality and government don’t always go hand in hand, for a materials focused start-up, a logical government funding progression might follow something like this…

Where has the vast majority of cleantech venture capital funding flowed over the last decade? The answer is "trillion dollar markets" such as electricity, fuels, chemicals and building materials. Several prominent cleantech VCs have proclaimed that the immense size of these opportunities offset the investment realities of time, significant CAPEX and entry barriers. Indeed these are massive markets that dwarf the size of cloud computing, SaaS, mobile and social media. But unlike these traditional VC segments, these are commodity markets where the public markets and corporate M&A departments are not used to paying the high margin and rapid growth multiples that have become the foundation of venture capital funding success.