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Welcome Eric Klein of Lemnos Labs!
- Eric is interested in technologies that have moved outside simply the “benefit of the iPhone” (which past guest Chris Anderson talks about)
- This includes things like batteries and ESCs, prevalent in robotics. LIDAR has also dropped in price in orders of magnitude.
- Venture capital (VC) really started in Silicon Valley with the chip industry
- There are two opposing forces in VC:
- Excited about the future, so they want to invest in things like rockets and robotics
- Venture capital needs returns and doesn’t like risks
- In hardware companies it’s extra tough, since the 1st 15 employees might need to have 10 disciplines
- “I need a hardware company to carry a 4x multiple”
- Dealing with low volumes is tough for any hardware business, but extra tough when asked for that multiple and possibly selling into a consumer marketplace.
- Eric’s background is consumer hardware, working at Apple in his early days.
- Lemnos started at 30% consumer, but is now down to 5%. How does it shift from 30 to 5% over time?
- Eric asks himself, “What new solutions will be opened up in 1-5 years?”
- 3 or 4 years ago they looked at the lowered cost of components and how this impacted applied robotics
- Venn diagrams
- “Shooting in front of the duck”
- Transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric infrastructure
- This includes direct things like renewables (solar, wind), but also energy banking and storage.
- One company Lemnos backs is called Electriphi, which schedules power charging for things like electric bus fleets.
- 2nd order effects
- Another company Lemnos is invested in that is doing robotics is Path Robotics. There are over 200K welding positions and the average age of welders are 50+. Eric visited a performance muffler place in Cleveland, where they were interested in using assisting robots.
- AI is actually reinforcement learning, not true AI.
- What else is on the list of Venn diagrams?
- Eric is also interested in aircraft and transport. There is increasing in “thinking”, “sensing”, and “communications”, so that leads to more focused autonomy for aircraft.
- Elroy Air is another portfolio company that helps villages in Alaska to get supplies.
- Eric is a personal investor (not through Lemnos) in Zipline. They started in Africa, no roads to get medical supplies to a village.
- Marble is an autonomous sidewalk delivery robot, but it has run into regulation problems. Now Marble is helping create rules in places they deploy to with localized governments.
- “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” ~ William Gibson
- College campus might be a decent place to deploy autonomous sidewalk vehicles. Starship did university deliveries.
- There is also potential market space for moving WIP between builds for manufacturing.
- Former guest Greg Charvat works at Humatics on indoor robots doing position finding without GPS>
- How does Eric consider pitches for funding?
- “The thing you didn’t study is storytelling”
- Eric was an intern in 1990 at Apple and lauded Steve Jobs’ ability to tell the story of technology.
- Hardware company requires 3 or 4 components
- Eric will want to see a team of 2-3. The reason he usually says no to an investment is because the team wasn’t there.
- Chris asked where to seek out the sales-focused person?
- At uni, you head over to the business building
- Career development
- Chris recommends meeting new people via a site called LunchClub.ai (the link here is Chris’ personal link and will get non-monetary “credit” for using it, but feel free to just go to the site and sign up on your own)
- Kipp Bradford
- Eric reminds people about the importance of networking
- Dishcraft is another portfolio company looking to take robotics to the restaurant dishwashing industry.
- Migrant labor peaked in the US in 2010
- Pay rates are similar as Sous Chef (Chris was surprised by this)
- Linda (the founder) looked at the problem and asked about automation
- Restaurants think about plate counts
- They can wash dishes as a service, akin to a diaper service or a linen service
- “You can put anything in front of an aas”
- The seed round is for proving market fit and reducing technical risk
- Approached by entrepreneur about how they might solve a problem for the business model
- Eric’s podcast for Lemnos is called “Into the Forge” and has 3 seasons available. He wants to capture stories of the variety of backgrounds of entrepreneurs. “Going to MIT is not necessary”
- How else does Eric recommend to meet people and network?
- Going to conferences like Supercon
- Hardware Happy Hour
- Feed of all the virtual hardware stuff
- Using meetups as a way to troubleshoot
- Reach out to Eric directly:
Dan Arves says
Decent guy, and not what I expected for a VC 🙂
And now you have another guest for the show – Kipp Bradford!
the title of your reddit says it all. Venture capital does not care about anything but money, money generates more money. State it that way and it is ok with me, but to hide the money machine behind statements like drones help transport medicine into rural areas… does not seem honest in the least bit. If anyone would really care about rural areas and medicine simply built something to help it, dont collect money to earn more money and as a sideeffect build drones.
I really like Chris reply that he really did enjoy working as a dish washer, of course this is a privileged statement, because if you are not 100 % dependent on that money, and or have a real career like electric engineer in front of you, dish washing or any job has more to it than the work itself, since you have another perspective in front of you.
Or put it another way, we have one just one simple problem in this world, it is overpopulation, more people need more jobs, if we kill the simple jobs by difficult solutions, we create way more problems than we solve.
And at the end I appologize for sounding harsh, I recognize the internet is no place for statement that harsh, id rather discuss this in person, since the way I wrote this is simply my approach, and it would be nice to hear another persons opinion so we could have a discussion about this rather than a monologue 🙂
Anyway, thanks for the whole interview, it is always nice to hear different views of things, especially if they are different from the ones that I have for myself.