VC, Grant Funding, & Sci Fi Tech
Join us for a fireside chat with Adam Draper, Founder and Managing Director of Boost VC. Hear Adam Draper discuss SciFi Tech, the new Boost VC rolling application process, and how grant funding factors into the success of their portfolio companies. This is an opportunity for any company working on frontier technology to get insights into Adam’s investment thesis and interests.
In This 1-Hour Session, We Covered:
- What is Boost VC?
- The importance of grant funding for sci fi tech & startups
- The relationship between VC and grant funding
- The relationships between government and sci fi technology
- The role of non-dilutive capital in building venture scale companies
About the Speakers
Adam Draper, Founder & Managing Director, Boost VC
Adam Draper is the founder and managing director of Boost VC. Adam is a 2x entrepreneur and a 4th generation venture capitalist. For Adam, no idea is too crazy. He dreams of building an ironman suit and leads the deals in the wildest SciFi Tech investments – exoskeletons, jetpacks, rockets… Go big or go home. The focus of Boost VC on future technology development stems from Adam Draper’s dream to create an Iron Man suit. He co-founded Boost VC after his success as an Angel Investor in companies like Coinbase, Amplitude and Plangrid. In a previous life, he wanted to be a professional tennis player and has an odd affinity for Australians. He once drank an entire bottle of tabasco sauce (the big ones) in 43 seconds. 4th generation venture capitalist, 2 time entrepreneur, and most importantly, he’s a friend : )
Sedale Turbovsky, CEO & Co-Founder, OpenGrants
Sedale Turbovsky is the CEO and co-founder of OpenGrants, a venture-backed startup focused on building modern infrastructure for funding. He has been an entrepreneur since childhood. After honing his leadership skills as an outdoor guide in his younger years, he started his professional career as an independent consultant focused on delivering data products and digital strategies to enterprise clients in South America. He is experienced in independent grant writing and public/private partnerships at the highest level, having worked directly with OpenGrants’ current strategic partner, Momentum.
Read the Transcription
Please note, this transcription is automatically generated and may contain some spelling and contextual errors.
All right, here we go. Welcome to the VC grant funding and SciFi tech fireside chat. I’m Sedale Turbovsky the CEO and co-founder of OpenGrants. We have Adam Draper here, he is the founder. And what’s the other part of your title?
Founder and wizard at Boost VC. Managing director of Boost. VC wizard is good.
So welcome everybody. We’re excited to have you here. We’re going to get into the discussion pretty quickly here, but as people come in through the room definitely be aware that we have this fairly locked down in terms of Q&A. So please use the Q&A tool itself on this is so we can provide a really positive experience for everyone.
So use the Q&A tool. We will be reserving some time as we get through this conversation today and dive into the intersection of VC money, grant funding and scifi tech for your questions at the end of the session. So at any time, feel free to use the Q&A tool, drop those in there. Our team will be looking at them as well.
So they may be able to get answers back to you quickly. But if not, we will get through as many of those as possible during the course of our discussion. Once again, this is VC grant funding and scifi tech with with OpenGrants. I am the CEO and co-founder. And we are going to be diving into all this great conversation with Adam Draper.
I’m going to go ahead and let Adam introduce himself. I’m super excited to have him here. Full disclosure. Adam is an investor in OpenGrants and also just an exceptional person on a mission to build an Ironman Institute.
Yeah, thanks Sedale. Does everyone know what OpenGrants name used to be?
We don’t need to go down the rabbit hole, but I just want you to know how far you’ve come. My name’s Adam Draper I’m the founder and managing director of Boost VC. We write the first check into scifi tech companies. Our mission is to accelerate the scifi future. And we invest $500,000.
We want to accelerate the greatest people who are building the most important things for the 9 billion people on the planet. And what would generate that impact generally is the commercialization of breakthrough technologies where there’s a community built around it.
And so we spend a lot of time hovering around different technology ecosystems. We were the first fund ever focused on Bitcoin. We were early people to focus on virtual reality. We spent a lot of time in biology. We spent a lot of time in aerospace. So that’s the journey.
I was the first investor in Coinbase and a company called amplitude and Benchling and a bunch of companies that became very valuable about 12 I invested, but 11 years ago, they are now that more valuable companies, most of which have gone public. And it’s awesome. My job is really awesome.
I get to be an energy vehicle, a battery pack, if you will, to those who actually build and change the world. And so that’s why I love what I do. I’m also a fourth generation venture capitalist which means my great-grandfather was one of the first VCs on the west. He invented the concept of a limited part partnership structure, a GPLP structure.
My grandfather founded Sutter Hill. He later went on to work in government, which is pretty relevant to today’s conversation. And then came back and was the first fund in India. And then my dad actually started DFJ and took venture capital global and at its peak had 27 different affiliate funds all over the world.
Really appreciate the background. And as anyone who’s listening can tell, just a lot of history here, not only in venture, but also there’s a really cool history. And I think it’s a great segue, even though this wasn’t like in the order to talk about maybe some of, the history that your grandfather had with leveraging that public private partnership, which I think is highly relevant to grant funding.
Yeah. So actually it wasn’t my grandpa it was my dad which is funny because it was just his personality. I think a better place to start it for the purpose of sort of the convergence of where government and venture financing sort of converge is. If you think about what venture capital is.
It’s the leftovers. So VC it, we end up, there’s a great talk that Chris Dickson did in 2014 called the leftovers and who is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz and investor in crypto. But if you think about what it is, if it was a good idea, the government should have done it, or big corporations should have done it.
And we get all the bad ideas started and it turns out those bad ideas end up being the things that hook onto society and change the paradigm. And most breakthroughs started out of government. So like the internet came out of university slash government funding computers, the microwave, like everything was in some capacity, like research by the DOD.
And there was some point at which, and this brings up what Sedale was trying to talk about, which was my dad when he was starting in venture capital, he went to the government. And so he had a pot of stocks that had already been picked. So he didn’t actually have liquid cash.
It was just stock. It was, or it was a bucket full of stocks and he assessed that it was probably worth about, a million dollars, $2 million. And so he went to the government. So SBIC is the actual program where, if you were able to actually get funds match that we’re going to small business because they were trying to accelerate the development of small businesses, venture capital. We invest in small businesses. This program no longer exists. It used to be three to one or two to one.
It’s it backed Tesla. It backed Skype, it backed Hotmail these defining companies on a global scale it backed Baidu. And it wouldn’t have gotten started if it wasn’t for the SBIC program.
And so I’m eternally thankful to the government. I also think that there, there was a point that happened where there has been a divergence of where innovation actually is created. And so that’s something that I don’t know if that’s something you want to talk about. So the and I think that has opened up this new possibility of the private markets getting involved in what either the DOD or the state research or the scientific research foundations or whatever it allows us to help commercialize breakthroughs that will impact everyone on a global scale. And we’re partnering with government rather than adversarially which I’d say it had been previously.
Yeah, no, I think that’s a great point. And I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on that divergence, because one of the big takeaways I’m hoping that people will pull from this conversation is that working with the government can be and frequently is a really like hugely tactical and competitive advantage that you can bring to the table.
There’s capital there’s IP and technology there. But sometimes that can be very complicated and that’s why we built OpenGrants. The first place was like, where the easy way to navigate this space. But yeah, I’d love to hear your thoughts on kind of that divergence in terms of like where the innovation is coming from.
I think that, okay, so the history of so the place that I’ve been spending a lot of my time is in that. DOD defense prime contractor area. Like we backed radiant which is a nuclear fission company we backed, which would be DOE. So the different we backed venous aerospace, which is hypersonic jets.
We backed launcher, which is rockets. We backed for space. We backed like lots of these amazing companies that if they, which are if, and no offense to the government, but if the government was doing its job, They wouldn’t have the innovations wouldn’t have been coming out of private sector.
Okay. And and the problem is not the government, the problem, or the intention that the problem is bureaucracy, like on a level that is unprecedented like the, so when Eisenhower was president that there were 500 to 600 government contractors. Okay. And if you think about that, we didn’t have technology to deal with that.
So Eisenhower was sitting there and he was going, oh yeah. I don’t want to I have to, if I have to sign one more fricking like government contractor for a billion dollars to do whatever. And so they incentivized consolidation. And so those 500 went down to five and those five are Boeing, Lockheed Raytheon, Northrup government general.
Dynamics I’ve listed those offline way better than I normally do. But those were the ones that I was impressive and and there are others, there’s smaller ones. There are others, but those are the primes. They call them prime government contractors. And if you’re here, you probably know of them.
But what happened in recent times was Bitcoin did not come out of the government, although there’s probably some sort of like conspiracy theory that it did which was a breakthrough in computing, in replacing third-party trust with mathematical proof. And the fact that innovation did not come out of that.
Is that becomes worrisome for where you’re supposed to be innovating inside of these departments. And so I think that over the last 12 years, there has been a 10, 20 years, 15 years, it’s a self-awareness of a government prime understanding where their value is and where their capital should be allocated in order to develop true innovation.
And I think that they have realized they’ve created corporate venture arms. They’ve created there are a lot of steps that have been taken. They’re granting more money to people outside of their system. They’re they still want to win the big contracts and they’re better at that than anyone else.
But after that, finding the talent, it turns out for 10 years, Fang found all the talent of engineering, right? Facebook, Amazon, Google, like they’ve, it found a Netflix, it found all the talent now. I’d say all of the talent moved to starting companies. There’s no social ramification to starting a business anymore.
So a lot of talent is just at the lowest level. And then with the emergence of space X and Andre hill, which has allowed for these contracts these, like it’s shown that it can happen where you can actually create a defense contractor at scale as a startup. And now the cost of starting that is going down dramatically because of the trust the government is instilling in the early stage venture area.
So I don’t know, that’s a long way of basically saying there’s been a steady evolution over the course of the last 70 years that has allowed for this moment in history where you’re able to innovate using partnering government money and early stage venture where that would’ve never been possible 10 even 15 years ago.
Like those are things that have happened in my life. I’ve never seen the government actually productively produce anything. Okay. We’re still dealing with the same innovations that occurred like 70 years ago. We’re still space X. The design of space. X is actually just the same design of 1960s. W which rocket was.
There’s no difference from the actual, like rocketry that has changed. The thing that’s changed is the software. And so now, and so that’s something government is not good at, they are not good at commercializing software. And that’s something that private sector is incredibly good at. Long story short, like in my lifetime, I have not seen the public industry compete at the scale that the private industry has.
And I am biased. I’ve obviously grown up in this entire ecosystem, but like incentives, alignment is basically how I believe innovation happens and incentive is alignment have, has been there for the private sector and not been there for the public sector. And thus private sector crushed it over the last, like 30 years.
Yeah. Yeah. And a lot of the things that we’re really excited about it, OpenGrants really are like the. There’s been a, sort of a realization slowly. Very slowly dawning over agencies that like, oh yeah, we should probably figure out ways to engage with contractors in the private sector that don’t require, maybe three years of work to get a contract.
And we should innovate on our procurement procedures. Honestly right now I’m actually in DC at at a gov tech summit. And I’d say the thing that you hear, most of people are like, oh, we’re trying to fix procurement. Like we’re fixing procurement, which is just like the process of being able to build these partnerships and that.
The really exciting thing about grant funding. And that’s why, that’s why OpenGrants, was built and why I’m very bullish on grants in general is that grants are this mechanism that allow you to sidestep some of that bureaucracy and get to a relationship really quickly where you can get capital in.
So as an entrepreneur, you’re looking for that you don’t want to wait three years, especially as an early stage company to sell something to the government. That’s just a sales cycle that you might not survive as a small business, but if you can get grant money in upfront in order to better engage with your client and study the things they’re doing and partner with them, and then work on a contract simultaneously, then you have some runway, you have some revenue is it’s just much more attractive.
I’d love to hear your thoughts at them on, generally, and I think you’ve done a great job of outlining what Boost VC is and your thoughts around that. But sometimes we hear from founders that like, what do VCs think about grant funding? Is it a bad signal is a negative signal, and I’d love to hear like some of your thoughts about what you like about the fact that maybe one of your portfolio companies is working with the government, partnering with them and to any of like your red flags, like the things that like, you’re like, oh, this isn’t going to end.
Look when I started Boost VC, our first industry that we went after was Bitcoin, which is actually the opposite of government. Okay. If you could pick an industry. Builders who are actually so like they would have never asked the government for funding and I would bet still none of them are asking the government for funding.
And, it was a small community of idealists and in archivists and they and now it’s a much larger community of just all types of people. So it’s it blossomed into something pretty special. But if you would ask me, even 12 years ago would I be back in government related businesses?
I probably would have said, no, not because of anything other than the government sales cycle is so long that you will die. That’s it. But yes. Great. So why aren’t you doing this? But what I’ve, there are a couple of things that have happened. One is I’ve learned and the government’s learned, right?
And so we’ve come to a head where I trust in pieces of the process of the government. And I believe the government is starting to trust the early stage investment like brand system that we’ve built out. And the collaboration of the two is really starting to work. I think true innovations, like space X, Andre hill, like those things, like we have a lot to thank you, Ellen, for, I would say just the fact that space X exists is the thing.
Every government based business should think out there, like before that. Huge question mark. After that, it’s going to be a meme. I believe the five-prime government contractors are going to be decouple into $510 billion, great government contractors, creating innovation.
I want to just punctuate that statement about space X, because I do think it’s super important to realize that up until now frequently that the path forward and you referenced this earlier, but I just want to highlight it’s like the path forward was maybe you did bring innovation to the government and eventually it would just get swept off into like general dynamics or Raytheon or somewhere.
Because there wasn’t that trust and there wasn’t that track record of Hey, these companies can roll in and come from, an innovative idea to like a company that we can actually like, space X now has a tons of government contracts to deliver all kinds of things. That like switch of like, all right, we, we believe in some entrepreneurs now.
But your question about grant funding specifically is a great question because one of the reasons grant funding is the worst. And also the best is that there’s a difference between a tinker and an entrepreneur, and both qualify for grant funding. And that’s great. Both are great. Like I that’s I actually think tinkers provide a lot, like scientists tinkers provide a lot of value in this space where they’re seeking knowledge, but not commercialization.
But if you’re seeking commercialization, you need to be a founder. And the problem with that grant funding sets a precedent for the brand that grant funding has is that you’re a tinkerer. You are not a commercializer, you are not taking your technology and bringing it to the world. You are not building a business out of that technology.
And so I, I believe that a lot of people believe their founders and re. Funding on the private capital side and on the public capital side. And they stay in that tinkerer spot and never get out of it. I believe that there’s also a new breed of founder that is doing the opposite and they’re doing, and they are building, they are true founders for the record.
Like I spend all my time with founders, like I, and I have financed a lot of tinkers and needed. I just don’t want you to think, I think any less or more of one party than the other, but my job is predicated on mass commercialization of products and I want impact some people aren’t looking for the impact I want.
I want this changes the world. This changes the lives of 9 billion people. This is a breakthrough that makes everyone’s lives better. And. That in order to do that, you have to be a founder. You have to want the pain of commercialization. You need to not, you need to be a truth seeker, but also a business minded human individual.
And if you are not, you should partner with someone who is, and you should not hold hostage your concepts and ideas if they are truly great for the world. So my, my answer is the problem with grant funding is also the greatest thing about grant funding. It’s like it, it attracts breakthroughs, but the problem with breakthroughs is the people who are doing them at the end of the day.
All of these breakthroughs are created by humans. They’re created by people and those people are either on the tinkerers side or on the which trivializes what it is, it’s science and, it’s true breakthrough innovation, but non commercialization of it. And you need to want to commercialize.
That’s the only way that the partnership between venture and grant funding works otherwise, Seville’s business works really well for you either way, right? If you’re, yeah, the grants are out there and it’s adding value to the government. It’s adding value to the system. Whoever’s writing the grant, doing the grant and there are probably private grants out there too, that aren’t only public related.
But the, if your dreams are of UN higher impact and higher, you need to be, you need a business, you need to know that the government is your customer. You have to know who you need to deliver. You need the stress of that delivery and you need to actually deliver on that promise and you need to know be realistic about how much money you’re going to need and who, how you’re going to generate cash and become sustainable.
Ilan, if you watch the return to space, which I highly recommend that return to space on Netflix. He said, Hey, I have enough money for four launches. So like he knew rationally, like after getting to a certain point and he’s I know I have enough money to do four launches and you know what, they did them all.
And he ran out of money and they all blew up. And then NASA came in and they offered a billion dollar contract. And a lot of that was the difference between the quality of a rocket from space X and a quality of rocket from NASA other services, which NASA hasn’t sent up a rocket since 2011 which also shows that there’s this huge opportunity to pick up where government leaves off.
And the another, if you’re seeking the ocean, like that’s another thing Noah’s been critically underfunded for years and they do have grants. And if you’re going after ocean related problems, happy to talk to you. But it was also software based software was a competitive advantage for space X, where it had not been previously in government.
Yeah. And by the way, some of these things I’m saying probably aren’t resonating with you and maybe you’re more of a scientist and you need, and you still want to go after grant funding still use this product. This product is like the greatest thing ever for you. It is. But in some of these things some of you this might be resonating with and you should be thinking, yes, I w I want to make impact.
I want to partner with the right people. I want to do all that stuff. Go after it, talk to people like I do it. I just want people to do cool things. That’s what my job is. If someone do you know how, like
how lucky people are, who know what they want to be working on and have a curiosity of how to make it better? Like, how lucky is it that someone found their. Like the thing that they’re going to spend 10 to 20 years on. How cool is that? And if the thing between that calling and action is like a small amount of capital, like I will take that all day.
And that’s what my job is. My job is bridging that gap of like people who found their calling and actual action. Like I saw so many people in in, in my life who went the safer direction. And it was just because of, it was because of a small amount of money, not even a lot of money. It was like a smaller amount of smaller amounts of money triggered all of these decisions.
And I think that the most scarce asset isn’t capital it’s truly unique ideas and truly unique thought and I will say truly enjoyable. It’s another scarce asset. I would say those are the three things that I think are like in scares. Like when you’re in a conversation with someone and magic’s going off, that there’s high trust in that room, th it’s just, doesn’t it’s more rare than you think, like when you were in college or and you were in just a room with your friends and you were debating topics, right?
There’s magic there. There’s like this magic where you were like high trust, talking about very complicated processes, trusting everyone in the room. And you came up with really good solutions. Like we need that. Better conversations, harder conversations. And we need people taking courageous risk right now to make the world a better place.
Yeah. A hundred percent. I love that. And I think, no, I’d love to drill down on something. You mentioned that there’s like the tinkerer inventor persona and the more of the founder who’s looking to, have that sort of outsize impact or create that thing. And I wonder, as a VC, what did and particularly for the people who are listening, who might be interested in understanding a bit more of like, how to signal that to venture, how to go after that space, because on the grant side, I can definitely say.
That’s one of the things we’re really excited about with the OpenGrants is looking at, smaller amounts of grant funding and where we can inject capital to really make that difference and allow people to go down either of those paths, because it really doesn’t take that much money. There’s a couple of programs we’ve partnered with where they’re doing grants that are just like 5k a piece, which doesn’t sound like a lot.
But honestly, with the, as you mentioned with the reduced cost of actually creating a business and experimenting and all the tech and tools that are out there, that can be, that’s like a game changer. You could all of a sudden be making, a million dollars a year on the internet and you could sell it to micro requires something, right?
Like that is a possibility now, even for those tinkers, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on, on the other path of alright how do I signal that? I’ve got an idea. How do I signal that I’m going after this like bigger market? And if I go get a grant is there a way for me to double down or provide that signal.
Can’t think of the grant as a hedge. Like you do need to be, you need for VR. For the thing I look for is commitment, right? You are committed to this craft forever basically. And I think right now there are a lot of founders who are succeeding because it was a good market who were not committed.
They weren’t in forever. This wasn’t their thing. They just saw an opportunity. They took a short-term like shot. I am looking for a high commitment forever. And that isn’t everyone, like not, everyone’s willing to like try to seek the truth and build value for 20 years on a similar topic that takes extreme focus and extreme difficulty.
And it is painful as all hell. So first I just want to say you have to have already, if I’m using a ship analogy, you need to not see already like you need to have already gone on this voyage and realize that the land is no longer behind you and be like shit. Like you need to have felt that panic where you’re on your own and you have taken the shot after that.
If you’re using grant funding to move in the direction that you’re headed, where you believe the land is like that is what I would say venture and grant funding should be for. Okay. And sorry, just to clarify the questions to Del the question is really focused on if I’m a tinkerer or if I’m a founder, like what, how do I articulate that to an investor type?
Is that the question? So what I’m looking for. I’m looking for people, right? Like my job is a people person. And I I like people and this job is really just about looking for great people who are working on their thing. I’m not dictating like there are VCs who are called, they’re called incubators, not accelerators, incubators, where they come up with the ideas and they build teams around it.
I’m I believe that the people coming up with their own ideas and investing around that is the undervalued thing. That’s a better way of building a lasting and during business, however, both ways work. So it’s not, it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. So how do articulate to me it’s commitment, energy and authenticity.
Like those are the three things I look for. And we speak. If you think about a D we speak a different language than startups, and we speak a different language than LPs who are my funder, like finance here. We have to be a bridge between those two people. And the language that we speak is driven by momentum and how to articulate that momentum is in those three ways.
It’s energy, commitment, and authenticity, but commitment can be shown in the amount of time you’ve worked on a problem as well as, and momentum can be shown in whether or not you’re focused on the right things. That’s generally the chart you’re showing us is about articulating the momentum that your business has.
And so being able to articulate how important this is to you, because for first off, a big question that will be in people’s heads is like failure, right? Like failure, like how often did that, it happens a lot. But it, key indicator of failure is like giving. And the money in your bank account is a key indicator of you giving up our best companies.
We call cockroaches. And the reason we call them cockroaches is one, all of our companies were ignored for the, by the market for a very long time, because mostly we were focused on Bitcoin. No one thought that was a real thing. And then it became a real thing. And now all of our companies are getting financed, but there was seven years where no one would look and we were never worried about certain companies, even if their bank account was low, just because they would figure out how to make it work.
Like they cared enough about the problem or their own confidence in themselves to solve it. So my that’s my answer. My answer is how you articulate, how do you articulate commitment and momentum to an investor? We want to know that you’ve already leaped off shore and can’t see land and, you’re betting on you and the crew you’ve brought on.
That you are going to hit something. The it’s and by the way, the Christopher Columbus is a great startup started just because he spent eight years convincing queen Isabella to finance his journey across the ocean to find India. And obviously he didn’t find it. And so I think that’s pretty correlated to most startups where you have, you’re taking a calculated guess that there is a better way, and you might not find what you’re looking for, but you need to be open to the idea that you find.
Yeah, no that’s great insights. I love it. And we’ll look forward to hearing more ideas and definitely, if you are a founder, on this journey of looking to fundraise and you’re in this space highly recommend sending some information over to Adam and his team.
They’re incredible. And I want to I want to pop into some of the questions because some of these are fairly meaty. So we’re going to go into this. This one looks like it’s for you because it’s not me. Have you ever had any investments you’ve passed on and the technology went overseas and became successful?
If so, how did that make you feel?
I liked that last part. So I can’t really answer to the ones that I know is my quick answer. Nothing went over. I don’t think that there was a, but I will give you an example where. In a way it works. So our first company we ever invested in was a company called favor.
It was on demand food delivery. And they started in Cal poly and it wasn’t a high density enough area. And so they actually moved the entire company over to Austin, Texas, and then it took off over there. And so geographically, that was a very important thing. The thing that I think about is not so much broadly, if the technology doesn’t work in one place, it’s going to work in another it’s who’s the customer.
And whether or not that they have enough time to actually create the breakthrough of that technology. How did, I don’t know if it like that. That was awesome because I love the favorite guys. There’s couple of my favorite founders. But if it let’s say hypothetically, this did happen, we’re all like I passed on.
I don’t know an AI. Fire thing. And the and it, and they went and it was like, oh us actually, isn’t the market for this. I’m going somewhere else. I think it’s great. I like innovation anywhere. I don’t need to be a part of all of it. And the and it would encourage maybe that’s a movement that I need to pay more attention to.
The other thing is 30% of my portfolio is international. So I’m not only in the United States and some of our contracting, like businesses are out of the U S so again I don’t think country is the, it’s not the specific thing that makes everything work. Yeah. It’s people.
Yeah, for sure.
Good question here around government in Europe, government is circled by the role of angels in the U S sorting equity, free funding to startups. More recently blended funding is being pioneered for series a B with government giving a mix of funding. And are we looking to build these formulas with government support, with support from Bruce VC?
I’ve actually had some fun conversations with Adam about this one time, a very long meandering one when we walked down to the bay. And yeah, we’ve certainly thought about that there’s programs actually like as this BCI that exists that actually provide funding from treasury for this honestly, and I have to get some more of Adam’s take on this a lot of times it’s unfortunately even in best the situations, the bureaucratic and administrative burden makes it really unattractive.
In the future, as we strip away and try to work to provide a very streamlined experience, I think, we could remove some of that bureaucracy down the road and make that happen.
Yeah, I, Hey, one of the ways that I so I do think that we’re headed into a recession, whether or not you believe that’s a different conversation, but during times of recession, what FA what investors will do is figure out how to leverage their investment, their capital.
And one of the core ways that’s obvious is with government. And so there’s probably going to be a lot of programs that pop up that are partnering with brands of venture capitalists in the U S that will be investing in deploying. I believe that, funds are actually better at deploying into innovative things than the government, but that’s the nature of me being a capitalist group, venture capitalist.
And that, that’s why the government should do it. But I don’t like right now, it’s just cumbersome for them to think about deploying into every single individual founder. And their incentives are misaligned, honestly. Like my incentive is great. I get a piece of company goes up, I make money dies.
I lose money. I’m aligned with the founders, government isn’t government. It’s like this other thing that we like, doesn’t it has mixed message incentives and stuff. So it’s a harder problem than just like.
Yeah, definitely. W what is the, I’m going to take a stab at summarizing this?
Because I think the intention here is just to ask what’s the average pre-seed funding available for startups. And I, the Boost program has a very specific program that I don’t believe has changed since we were there. But Yeah, you want to tackle that one real quick? Just the Boost VC deal
For us specifically we invest $500,000.
We target a certain amount of ownership and we try to lead. What we say is we lead pre seed deals of less than 1.5 million. So with our capital, other people can partner try to bring in other capital that is dilutive. So you would have other investors. What I think. So Dale and I are really talking about before this was, it’d be cool if we could partner that let’s say it’s a million dollars that you collectively get with a million dollars from the government to be able to extend the the life the potential impact of the company.
And that’s one thing we do strive to do. And they will have been fortunate to work with a variety of the Boost VC ecosystem portfolio companies and helping them secure grants. I think one other thing that I’ll mention real quick here is that, just in general, there is an opportunities, there are opportunities for these companies specifically, because there’s really cool data.
If you are a grant recipient of a substantial amount of federal money you’re two times more likely to raise a successful seeker is a, there’s a lot of really cool stats about companies that successfully pull off this public private partnership. And
and that I would say that stat goes drastically up in very difficult.
So I here I’ll divide the world into bits and atoms when it is a difficult Adams based business. The degree to which you can partner with government capital matters exponentially more. So like software based businesses configure it out by themselves. I think it’s few fewer people like you probably a 15 year old with a laptop can boot up a website, right?
And I’m not saying they’re amazingly impactful businesses that are built that way. It’s just, you don’t necessarily need grant funding to pay for all the stuff like AWS web services. If you can find a hundred dollars, you can boot up your idea for a website. But for Adams based businesses where you’re building robots or launching rockets or whatever, the thing like nuclear fusion, like it increases even more drastically.
If you partner your private with your public. Yeah.
A hundred percent. I love this question. How would you like to see the private sector participate in innovation and public sector? Support innovation within. That space. I just want to throw one note out here that, I think the current ecosystem is pretty cool.
The problem isn’t as much like the relationship, but it’s a lot of the process which is a big part of what OpenGrants has focused on, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on
I’m all about reducing the friction of deals being made. The, I think there’s a problem in venture where we have too much weird regulatory bull crap, just to be able to raise help companies raise funding, like an accredited investor needs to sign and say they’re in a credit investor in order to invest in a venture capital fund.
And if and I can only have 90 of those in my. And then, but I can have an infinite number of qualified buyers, which is a wild, weird thing that makes no arbitrary sense. And then the it, and then the rule sets are changing for crowdfunding to be able to get to more people, but the regulatory burden against for filing for the person who’s writing $22,000 check is hugely high and it’s very difficult to serve all of those individual investors.
And I think public private sector, I would love to be similar where it’s like, Hey, I always think venture was built on like a napkin term sheet in a handshake. And I want that again. Like I think that their technology that can get us there again we headed back in that direction with the creation of safe S a F E is.
The founder in the power seat was able to raise fluently easily without really needing to know too much about terms. We’re back to a world where terms are going to be a really big deal again, and lawyers are getting all, back forth, like the time that it takes for us to do a deal again, it’s like way longer than it used to be.
And I would love if the government private was in a similar thing. It was like three people handshaking all at once. And it was just like deal. And then the creator, the builder gets the money to do what they needed. There’s, there should always be a vetting, like a, is this person doing something important?
Does it actually make an impact? Is this person high integrity, high character? Those are things that we should always be looking for, but if you’re willing to do the deal. It should be done after your handshake and like that is not how it works. There are a lot of complicated jargon things that sort of suck up the air
Good. Quick fire one here. Rachel is building something cool. They’re pitching to NSF and they want to know what is the best way to connect with you and Boost VC.
Dope. Email me, Adam at Booster VC, probably the best way. It’s funny. I’m going to challenge everyone because it’s like the now I’m going to get however many people are on this email, but I always say my email address, everyone is like very private by their email address.
Like I say, it. One person emails. Every time I speak on stage and they think that I don’t want want to be bothered or something to an email, like you’re not bothering anyone. The there’s a process that I am used to, to filtering things. And then if it’s relevant, if you make it relevant to me, I’m going to reply.
Tell me if it’s a deal it’s relevant to me. So no matter what default, I will reply to your email.
Awesome. Howard Rosenberg had a comment here. The U S has presently, nearly 30 trillion in debt and the government was not initially designed to do and to be in the business of being in business, I think is a very fair critique, and this is part of why these public private partnerships are so important.
Yeah, great. You’re right. And everyone, my grandfather always thinks about it differently too. And but if it was a business, it would be a failing business. And if you think about, and the average person in the United States is is not, is a family business as well. And that’s a tough spot for the world to be in.
I think this is a really great one here. And playing off some of your process a bit the question, how do you evaluate early stage companies that have high tech, technical risks, technology, development risk, but high payoff of successful.
It’s a great question. Because I’ve invested in about 300 companies, three 50 companies at this point two, two, there are probably two 30 that are active.
Remember I’ve been doing this for about 12 years and there is an attrition of like companies do fail. And I am not a technologist. I do, I think in terms of like how things work and I fathom how they work, but I am, I don’t know exactly how they work. My key thing is judging the person first.
So do they have the commitment? Do they have the energy? Are they authentic in what they’re doing? Are they obsessed in this positive way? And then. It’s I need to believe that they can do it. That’s where it is. And I don’t know how to describe that any differently than that. There’s a and people can be confident, but when I ask every single question and they’ve thought of every single answer, like deeply, and they’re like, this is why they have spent a resounding amount of time thinking through how this technology could work.
I come from the belief that anything’s possible you do. What I need someone to do is bridge the gap between anything being possible. And you’re actually going to build it and you’re the right person. And at the end of the day, you probably won’t be the only person who built it. I need to believe that you know how it’s going to be put together.
And that’s the gap that I’m constantly trying to bridge. But if I trust the person magic, it’s easy. And so a lot of my job is just like taking risks on trusting people. And then over a 10 year period, they either, it either succeeds or like their evolved nature of the next thing is what succeeds.
And as long as I kept a good relationship, hopefully I get to invest in that one. But yeah, I want to back people on a 50 year journey, right? That’s a it’s I dude, if you want a question, commitment, like we backed a company where the, he has a family the person, this founder has a family moved across the whole family across the country, invested all this person’s money into the new project that he made money from an accurate.
Invested all of the money into this new company that he is building. And basically has been like knowing he is headed in the right direction, has been spending every single dime that he has on this project. Like risking everything. He is committed and risk everything, move family, like wellness, like all this stuff, because this is the ship.
This is his thing. If you haven’t found the thing that makes you feel that way, where you’re willing to risk it all, keep that’s what you’re searching for. That’s what we’re all searching for. Like we’re all searching for that. But if I find someone who has found that all I’m doing is like enabling it.
Like I’m enabling that possibility. And like it’s so it’s it’s so easy to make the decision. If that’s how committed they are. It’s such an easy decision to invest in. You can’t go there and be like, I don’t want to take any risk and I want all your money. That’s what a lot of conversations are with me.
When people are pitching me, they’re saying I’m going to take no risk. And by the way, also this person partners with public money and Doug does all that stuff too. Like you can show commitment without w with partnering public private. Like I, yeah, just if you’re committed, like it’s a no brainer, but the level of commitment that to show is.
My bar was raised when I realized this.
That’s awesome. I love it. Another great question here. I’d love to hear your thoughts on, I’m happy to offer some of our thoughts from the immigrants team, as well as, how do you feel about tech transfer?
I want to hear your answer for us because I want to hear the like politically nice side of this.
Yeah. This question about tech transfer offices and the ability for entrepreneurs to create paradigm shifting companies with government technology, I, I think that.
Tech transfer offices are really an underutilized asset in the United States. In particular, we have spent literally trillions of dollars in government money, researching incredible things. And the unfortunate reality is a lot of this stuff just sits on the shelf because these offices are so awful to work with.
And that’s the nicest way I can say it. I have a lot of other words about that.
Tech transfer is the biggest lie in entrepreneurship like that. Thing’s a garbage on top of a piece of poop. Like it’s just bad. I would like if I, because it is locking up for the sake of locking up, it is locking up IP for the sake of locking up IP, thinking that, Hey, I don’t want anyone else to have this value when what if we could have pushed humanity to a better place because of breakthroughs that happened in these like Sheila.
Grounds like, no, one’s talking to each other known as people have tried to index all the tech transfer offices, by the way, my original idea for Boost VC was working with universities as an accelerator. So trying to help university ideas. And it was the worst process. I had 20 calls, 30 calls, 40 calls with tech transfer offices, like accelerators at universities, whatever it, like I realized how horrible this process was going to be.
And so I was like I’ll just go at it alone until people want to work with me. That was basically, and so I built my own brand. I invested in the things I wanted to invest in. I found I was able to still go to those demo days and stuff and find great people. But yeah, I, and I’m sorry if people are wanted me not to say the word poop on this, like it, but like that, that is.
And I’m sorry if you work at a tech transfer office, but you are locking away innovation. That is my belief. And I think innovation should be set free and for the right people to find it and to build and commercialize and build a fantastic business that impacts the world. So that is what I, yeah and I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend anyone if I’m offending people.
I don’t know. I literally don’t know what of I lost three people just by saying poop on this.
We’re also ending our closing in, on the end of our time here. So I assume there’ll be some folks dropping off to get to other meetings and things, but I do want to also highlight that, I think that this is the also, this is an opportunity for sure.
If you can figure out how to crack the code.
That is true. That’s how I should be phrasing it. It’s just I’m like, Hey, I’m going to break it from the outside. I’m going to, I’m going to open source this beast, the so I’ve but I agree. It’s a huge opportunity working inside of academia to its advantage.
If it, I think that academia fails if they don’t innovate the tech transfer, like I think all academia fails because that’s, they’re like, no we’re PR my precious. And if you break that open, if you share the value that’s there and maybe we find out that there’s just nothing good.
Maybe we find out that shielding absolute garbage and like the but give us a shot. Let us know if it’s shielding absolute garbage.
Yes, indeed. I think yeah. Anyways, maybe that’s for another time. A different webinar. Couple of quick fire questions here. How far are you along in getting your, getting to your Ironman suit?
So I’ve backed to Jetpack companies, 70 AR VR startups and space jet space yet. I would say the pieces are all there. It’s more about making sure that it there are a couple problems with jet packs as well as Ironman suits. The main problem that has not been solved as the falling out of the sky problem.
It’s also very loud, but I could deal with that if I get to work relatively safely in an Ironman suit. And and then. Th that’s the, those are basically the two problems they’re there. They’re like two major problems. It’s really, the loud is like tough. Yeah. So that’s my answer. It’s getting there.
It’s getting there.
I love it. I love it. I’m very excited for it. I think this is a really particularly relevant one should grant time. We impact when to apply for Boost VC. And maybe you can expand on that and just say like when you’re raising venture and is there a preference, do you think with venture capitalists to see grant funding before or after,
it’s not about a preference of grant or not grant, it’s a preference of momentum. Like I want to know that, what the most important thing is. And so when I’m assessing technology, I want to know that I believe that this person knows they can build this piece of technology or has a team that can build this piece of technology and they fathom what it is.
If it’s on the business side, I just want to know that they’re, I want to know that, your customer better than anyone else. Why you are building this better than anyone else. And you know where this goes. I it’s not a nature of when it’s like every journey is so different.
I’ve seen a lot. I don’t like saying I’ve seen everything because every time I say that I’ve some new thing pops up. But I think the nature of it is making sure that you find a part. And the other thing that people, the other here, this is a discrepancy that I’ve maybe government and VC is different is you are looking for a partner, right?
Like you are looking for when you’re raising capital, you’re looking for someone who’s going to support your concept, your idea, and you against all odds. And it’s a give and go. Like you both are in that for the long haul. Like you need to know that your with investment, you’re asking to be married with grant funding.
You’re asking for someone to show up to the wedding like it’s a little easier than the marriage thing. And so I think that D that right there is a little bit the difference in taking grant funding. It trivializes the relationship that VCs expect out of helping build and assisting in the acceleration process and building your network.
And so I. Yeah. I don’t know this. This is touching a lot of things right now that are like really interesting sort of bifurcations, like where we are different. And I think one is grant funding. They’re going to give it to you. And then you just, they are going to assess the product later. We’re going to invest and we’re going to be there for the next 10 years of product in the next 10 years of company building.
So it’s it is different, like straight off the bat.
Yeah. Awesome. We are at time and I really, you ended at noon those beautiful. So thank you. And I want to say thank you to everyone who has tuned in and listened. I appreciate all the questions. If we didn’t get to your questions, we’ll definitely do our best to send out additional information.
We of course will be sending out this recording as well. Adam, any just like a quick closing thought.
No, my co my closing thought is I think self-awareness is a really important skill. If you’re going to be building a business, understanding where you are not where you need help is in.
Normally my job, everyone thinks that my job is capital. It ends up being like less capital and more energy. And it’s just a belief that I think that this is a great thing that you’re doing. And I think when you’re building it’s, you need to do anything that helps you get there, period, like hard stop.
If you believe in yourself and what you are doing, and it is going to make an impact on the world. You need to go for it. Like you need to listen to that. That gut, that soul thing that like it’s communicating between gut and brain and you need to do it. The thing is there are a lot of different ways to finance it.
Ilan went the old road of selling a big company and then being able to finance it himself and partner with government capital. Like you go to VCs because you need, we need to know that you can do it, prove it to us the first time we meet you, that’s when the clock starts. And that’s when you’re building the relationship with us with grant funding.
It’s like it’s SIM similar. I guess my closing thoughts are like capital should never be the thing in between you and changing the. If it is the thing, if it’s the only thing, which is normally not true, like you might think it’s true, but it’s normally not the thing. You should be reaching out to investors like strategic potential people, governments, like you should just be trying to do it because you, can’t not like, and those are the founders I want to work with.
I want to work with founders who can’t not do what they are doing. And like they have left shore and they don’t know where land is anymore. And they are hoping they know how to navigate the planet with the stars. And so that, that is the thing. Cool. I love it.
Thank you so much. I appreciate your time. And we will, we’ll talk soon. I’m sure.
Oh, I didn’t get to a lot of questions. But email me happy to answer things. So have a good one, everybody.