Sci-Fi Tech Learnings (Part 1)

I’ve been investing in Sci-Fi startups for a while, I’ve learned things.

To me, the term Sci-Fi is applicable when you experience magic in a product, enabling something that was previously impossible. This generally occurs when new technology capture an older market, or when new technology creates a new market.

A good example of this would be our Jetpack company Gravity (and Jetpack Aviation). Gravity flew publicly for the first time at Boost VC’s Demo day 2 years ago. The moment Richard Brownings legs left the ground, I knew that I had seen something special, something only 200 other people had seen. We saw a man fly that day, without a plane.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C Clarke

In the last 10 years more technologies than ever have been released that I see as being indistinguishable from magic.

The difference between Sci-Fi Tech and consumer apps, or enterprise software, is that there’s more R&D up front on technology with unknown outcomes and an unknown market size.

There is a phrase today that a lot of people use, “It’s cheaper than ever to start a business.” This always references the idea that the internet allows anyone access to the resources to start a business and build their own distribution. If the cost of this is so cheap, then why are people raising so much money? More money is being raised by startups than ever.

The reason is - It’s more expensive than ever to finish a startup, and the goal is infinite.

The difference between a Sci-Fi Tech startup and the average internet enabled startup software is actually not the investment, it’s where the investment must take place for success.

For an internet focused startup, the heavy cost should be in reference to building distribution, once they have a product working. And the cost of the product to showing the proper metrics is not a high cost (Because there is market information) was , so you can show more faster and get the first couple customers. The cost comes down to defensibility. Companies are raising to buy users, buy growth.

For “Sci-Fi,” we don’t know what the proper metrics are yet. We are building the railroad tracks and the train at the same time. Sometimes, we are building the lab that the train would be residing in and the starting the train and realizing we were trying to build a space ship all along. This leads to a steeper up front cost, but sometimes builds breakout tech, which is the defensible piece of Sci-Fi.

Startups are incredible. All founders are heroes.


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By Adam Draper

I ponder as a VC.

It's a quick one minute read to make you think, smile, or laugh.

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