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FUNDING AN EMTECH STARTUP - 3 FOUNDERS SHARE THEIR ADVICE
by Daniel Faggella on 1/23/2014

In the last four months of 2013, I ended up with almost more interviews that I could handle from startup founders in Emerging Technologies. With a little bit of down-time to reflect on the new year, I decided to reach out to some the successful CEOs from robotics to genomics to artificial intelligence, to glean their perspective on one common topic: Getting funded.

"Emerging technologies" are by their nature somewhat speculative. Though it makes sense that genetic data will be more commonly leveraged, it’s still difficult to say when this will occur, or in what way. The same might be said of home robotics or of myriad applications of bioengineering and nanotechnology. This poses a potential challenge for EmTech founders who’re competing for angel and VC dollars from companies selling less "far out" products and services - like CRM software or a new form of web analytics.

I decided to let the founders speak for themselves, and below I’ve selected the three responses that I thought might be most helpful to EmTech founders and teams. The question I asked the interviewee CEOs was: "What advice would you give to EmTech startup teams who’re looking to effectively raise money in 2013."

Response #1 comes from Sagie Davidovich, a software and "internet of things" entrepreneur, now founder of SparkBeyond:

"Embrace crowd-funding. It allows your early adopters to get engaged as early as possible. It embraces the voice of the customers. It will allow you to start getting real users as soon as the product is out."

Response #2 was received from Brad Kayton, a CEO four times over, and angel investor / advisor in the Boston and New Hampshire area:

"Treat the financing effort as a program, indeed that has been the only way I raised money as an entrepreneur. Set a project timeline, let everyone know there is a program in place, maintain a tracker, and like a sales program make sure you have an adequate pipeline."

Response #3 comes from Reid Robison, CEO at Tute Genomics, a SaaS application for genetic research:

"The great business writer, Peter Drucker, once wrote: ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ This is especially true in high tech startups, because so many industries are ripe for disruption. We are in a time of unprecedented opportunity, because there are several different platform revolutions happening at the same time: big data, cloud, social, mobile, local. Pick an industry in turmoil, or a sleepy analog industry. Make it a meaningful endeavor that can really make an dent in the universe, then surround yourself with energetic people who share your vision. Combine innovative thinking, domain expertise, strong technical skills, and then go after it with a massive amount of hard work. Success is then directly proportional to your personal dedication to the cause."

All in all I was pleased to get a variety of responses and perspectives from the founders I reached back out to - but of course the application of their insight will depend on context. Crowdfunding may have advantages for a business idea that has more "catchiness" for consumers than traditional appeal for investors, but it may not be right for you (http://www.marsdd.com/2013/01/15/crowdfunding-is-it-right-for-your-startup-part-1/).

Having your financials in order and laying out a soldierly plan to execute to reach those metrics is something that’ll help any investor sleep at night - knowing that the founders have a head on their shoulders. As an investor himself - professing to have shifted to the "dark side" - Brad is likely looking for this quality in the startups he’s keep his eyes out for.

Dr. Robison’s advice will likely ring true to nearly any startup today, but potentially more-so for emerging technology companies built for their capacity to disrupt.

-Daniel Faggella

Daniel Faggella is a national martial arts champion and online/offline entrepreneur. After selling his first business at the age of 25, Daniel founded www.TechEmergence.com, the only news and advice website specifically for entrepreneurs and investors in Emerging Technology. He lives outside of Boston, and consults with startups on marketing automation and sales strategy.

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