Building a Tough Tech company is hard.
This advice can help.
At The Engine, we don’t shy away from investing in Tough Tech companies at foundational stages, and we often work with first-time technical founders. These are people at the forefront of science, engineering, and technology wrestling with solutions to pressing global challenges: What does the next generation of zero-emissions energy look like? How can we use cellular engineering to cure diseases like Parkinson’s? How do we build faster, more flexible, and more efficient computing systems? The list goes on.
Out of the 27 companies in our first fund, the majority of founding CEOs were less than five years out of academia. In response, we’ve launched Blueprint, a startup development program, to encourage grad students, post docs, and research scientists to explore the commercial opportunities of their particular breakthroughs.
While we do not solely invest in first-time founders, we do believe that they hold a unique combination of bold vision, cutting-edge knowledge, and an incredible passion for bringing their ideas to life.
The advice in this piece is aimed at young technical founders and is rooted in my personal journey. When I was 24 years old, I spun-out Polyera, a semiconductor startup from Northwestern University. I served as its CEO for 11 years until we merged the company into a joint venture with SAES Getters, a public company.
I have seen how our founders are able to leverage the resources that we offer to accelerate the growth of their companies and often find myself thinking, “I wish the Engine existed when I started Polyera.”