Stronger than Steel

Investors spend time with analysts. Analysts ask the question “what?”

If all great new ventures answer the question “why?”, all the naysayer-right-hand-man-shoeshine-analysts ask the question “what?”

They sputter things like, “money has no smell,” and recount the times that “snake oil salesmen” have come into their office seeking money and then the money disappears.

They want numbers. They want certainty.

Their body language is stiff – the kind of stiff that trained guard dogs have with a persistent, slight snarl on the edge of their lips. If you think about their psychology, it makes sense. Their goal in life is to have a stable job. If they can portray the world as a bad place and themselves as a reliable set of eyes and ears, with a nose able to sniff out the bad and growl and bark at it, then they get to eat.

Remove the fear and you remove the stability in their job.

Guard dogs hate wild animals. Hate caracals, wolverines, and bears.

The disruptive entrepreneur is a wild animal. It must survive by finding enough to eat so that it can develop a disruption.

The disruption should solve a major problem.

The conversation with investors should be about why this is a problem and why we – the disruptor and the investor – can solve the problem. But most of the time, one does not have these conversations. Most of the time, when hunting money, the disruptive wild animal deals with the investor’s guard dog: analysts and regulators.

The process of raising money follows a path. You need to find a way to get in to see the person with the money. Ideally, someone trusts you enough to invite you in. Or even better, you have an opportunity to share a problem with someone who has risk capital and they get to see your true character under duress and they want to solve problems with you. But even better is rare, so let’s get back to ideally. When you walk into the room, you can tell if it will be a good meeting in the first 26 seconds. Where does the guard dog sit? Look at the neck muscles. Is the dog looking you in the eyes? How does the investor treat the dog?

In the case of Solar Ship, one needs to keep steering the conversation back to the question of why? A dog likes to drive with the safety brake on, in the (mistaken) belief that this will enhance safety. It’s ridiculous, but it is their psychology.

For Solar Ship, the dog hones in on what. 

“What is the wing made of?”

“Fabric? It looks flimsy, dangerous.”

Listen for it… that gentle snort out of the nose that is supposed to denote disapproval from the dog to the master. One must win this argument – defeat the dog – or one has not earned respect and there will be no investment.

It is not flimsy. It is stronger than steel.

How do you know this? Because Dr. Sebastien Fournier invested. Fournier is Solar Ship’s Chief Innovation Officer and one of the most advanced minds in the world of materials science. Steve Wallace invested. Wallace is one of the world’s top fabric structures engineers and he is leading the Solar Ship team building the wing. Kuang-Chi invested. Kuang-Chi is a high tech company based in Shenzhen, China. CEO Dr. Ruopeng Liu designed and made a real Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Kuang-Chi is making fabrics 10 times stronger than steel and 10 times lighter than aluminum.

Sit down, dog.

Stop growling and pretending the world is a dark and scary place and only you know how to provide protection from the unknown. The engineering properties of fabrics are extremely well known.