If you’re not on the edge, you’re taking up too much space…
Written by Omar Zahr
As a serial materials science entrepreneur, Dan Button had a lot to share with iMatSci’s audience of innovators and entrepreneurs at the MRS Fall Meeting this year. He has raised over $100M in financing for four materials science startups, and has overseen two of the companies make their successful exits by being bought by, or merging with, another company. Calling on his experience at Fortune 500 companies Dupont and Corning, as well as his time commercializing five university inventions (now working on his fifth in three-dimensional computer vision), Button emphasized the need for a fledgling startup to be on the cutting-edge of technology if it ever hopes to compete against established industry leaders. Yet this is simply a starting point. A central challenge is financing. Investors often balk at the prospect of investing in a materials science-based startup, as they perceive a risk of low capital efficiency and a protracted time-to-market.
Button highlighted five practical strategies to address those fears: Focusing on a single market, application and product at entry; Dropping-In to existing industry ecosystems wherever possible; Designing-In the solution across the value chain; Practicing production and application of your product to learn, improve and validate; and Diversifying one’s options, finances, and capabilities.
Ultimately, the essence of Button’s message is to do what it takes to get to the market as quickly as possible, with as little equity capital as possible.