March 25, 2023

How do business leaders grow (and sell) their companies, from scaling technology to getting funding from the right partners?originally appeared in Know almost: A place to gain and share knowledge, enabling people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Reply Rick Lube, Co-founder and CEO of Group14 Technologies, about Know almost:

Since I first sat in a room on Sand Hill Road 20 years ago, preparing to pitch my first company to investors, I’ve seen many dramatic changes in this space – from technology and fundraising to perspective. Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of another huge shift right now. With all the twists and turns, I’ve now come out of the other side multiple times and found that the same learning still applies.

For any business leader mentoring a nascent start-up, one of the main goals—and possibly one of the biggest challenges—is to sell the dream. Not only must your product or service address key challenges in novel ways, but you must be able to truly demonstrate your potential for healthy scaling. A key measure of growth will be how quickly and efficiently your company can manufacture and commercialize at scale to meet demand. In our industry at least, we are seeing an exponential increase in the need for electrification as today’s consumers and companies move away from fossil fuels.

Especially in the battery space, that means factories — we have to see more factories. With this in mind, my team at Group14 developed our silicon cell technology to be scalable and plug-and-play from the start. As your company grows, the modular manufacturing blueprint will be the foundation to balance the near-constant unpredictability of today’s supply chains and market demands. Modular manufacturing is the only solution that guarantees success, designed to maximize manufacturing efficiency and the flexibility required by evolving environments. It also means more domestic manufacturing. That’s why Group14 has built a domestic battery ecosystem, and our second U.S. factory in Washington State will break ground this year.

Of course, this would not have been possible without fundraising. While many startups today are in a precarious position amid market uncertainty, we are still seeing VCs raising new capital optimistically and investing strategically in technology. Currently, I have led Group14 to raise over $440 million and can attest to the fact that it needs to work hard to find the right partner, whether through a bear or bull market. Part of that includes the trade-off between venture capital and strategic investors. Each has an important role. For a high-tech sector like the battery industry, strategy requires a more sophisticated and sophisticated approach than a pure financial investor. However, they present more tactical opportunities for startups to help identify any significant risks and provide a more practical approach to commercialization.

When starting out, it’s important to learn how to leverage relationships in the right room — even your “weaker” relationships can lead to some of the most powerful opportunities. Second, as I mentioned, you have to be able to sell your vision, not just your technology or service. That said, you still need to be transparent about the potential risks you face. Remember: no matter the situation, all you can control is your pitch.

this problem originally appeared in Know almost – A place to acquire and share knowledge, enabling people to learn from others and better understand the world.

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