I came across a very technical startup last week. Usually, when I’m not familiar with the technology which a startup is developing, I pass on the investment pretty fast. It simply takes too much research and too many conversations with the founder for me to get up to speed on what they’re doing and how it’s different from competition.
This time was different. I first received the company’s investor presentation. As I started going through the presentation, I discovered that the more I read, the more the technology made sense to me. The presentation clearly conveyed what it took to build the technology, its specific use cases in different industries, and its advantages and disadvantages relative to other competitive technologies. The presentation also came together with a video of the technology in action which helped me better understand some specific use cases. As I was impressed with how the clear explanations helped me learn so much in so little time, I decided to do more research and meet with the founder.
My hope was that the clarity of the presentation would also show in the founder’s verbal delivery. Being able to explain what you’re doing in simple terms to someone not familiar with the topic is a very important skill for founders. It helps when interacting with employees, customers, the media, and in this case investors. Our conversation showed that the founder was able to communicate equally clearly verbally as he had in the written presentation. I left our talk feeling comfortable enough about my knowledge of the technology to invest.
I can’t share the company’s name yet as we haven’t completed the investment. However, we very likely will. If we do, it will be a rare example of a highly technical startup that we’ve invested in.
My reasoning is that if a founder can clearly explain and make me appreciate the value of a technology that I didn’t know about until two weeks ago, they’re likely to have the same impact on a lot of other people. This sets them on the path to success.