Khosla Ventures (KV) has been an active investor in deep tech for 15 years. In this episode they share ideas on how they select sectors to invest in and prioritize and retire risk, how to best support startups, and what investors need to enter the deep tech field (hint: it's not a PhD).
This podcast is hosted by Benjamin Joffe, Partner at SOSV, a global early stage fund focused on deep tech. SOSV runs multiple accelerator programs including HAX (intelligent hardware) and IndieBio (life sciences). To hear about new episodes, sign up to the newsletter or follow us on twitter at @LabToMarket.
Kanu Gulati and Rajesh Swaminathan are Investment Partners focused on deep tech at Khosla Ventures. The firm was founded by Vinod Khosla -- co-founder of Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle for US$7.4 billion in 2009) and former General Partner at Kleiner Perkins -- with the goal of ‘Reinventing Social Infrastructure with Technology’, to elevate the entire planet’s quality of life without destroying it.
- Over the past 15 years, KV has raised over $5B across 6 funds and invested in about 400 startups including Impossible Foods, Rocket Lab, DoorDash, OpenAI and many more.
- They invest mostly at early stage — signing checks ranging from a few hundred $k, up to $50 million — and without shying away from the high technical risk of deep tech.
After an introduction and examples from KV’s portfolio, the conversation goes into:
- Why it is crucial to prioritize risks and retire them in the right order.
- The 12 different technologies that can move the needle for the climate crisis.
- Their approach to detecting startups from centers of excellence.
- What sectors KV focuses on, including climate tech, hyperlocal and bio-manufacturing, hardware acceleration for AI, and more.
- What investment and operating partners do.
- How they support their portfolio in particular with recruiting (white paper). Vinod Khosla even calls himself a ‘glorified recruiter’!
- How conviction, immersion, patience and staying power matter more than a PhD to start investing in deep tech.
- How more engagement between financial and corporate VCs, building more forums and reducing inefficiencies in the deep tech ecosystem could help.
- Phil Morle (Main Sequence Ventures) on Australia's Deep Tech Ambitions
- Habib Haddad and Calvin Chin (E14 Fund of MIT Media Lab) on Funding Science Fiction That Works
- Robert Gallenberger (btov Partners) on How to Select Industrial Partners
- Xavier Duportet (Eligo Bioscience & Hello Tomorrow) on Science Entrepreneurship
- Deep Tech Startups vs. Covid-19, with IndieBio, Khosla Ventures and 50 Years
- Eric Rosenblum (Tsingyuan Ventures) on Chinese Founders in the US
- Overview of Deep Tech Investment, Based on the Report by Different
- Sota Nagano (Abies Ventures) on Japan’s Deep Tech Scene
- Seth Bannon (Fifty Years) on Solving Global Problems
- Kelly Chen (DCVC) on Investing in Old School Industries
- Manish Singhal (pi Ventures) on India’s Deep Tech Scene
- John Ho (Anzu Partners) on Breakthrough Industrial Tech
- Matt Clifford (EF / Entrepreneur First) on Investing in Talent and Pre-Product
RESOURCES ON DEEP TECH
- DeepTech Investing Report by Different
- The Dawn of the Deep Tech Ecosystem by Hello Tomorrow and BCG
- Deep Tech Investors Mapping by Hello Tomorrow
- Deep Tech Trends Report, Hardware Trends Reports and Hardware Investment Outlook by SOSV