How to attract investors who fund game-changing companies

Many problems that are worth solving are not ones you can solve in a year or two or even 10.

For founders and investors alike, such long timelines can seem daunting. But for Gene Berdichevsky, co-founder and CEO of battery technology startup Sila, the tough tech problems are also some of the most alluring.

“It’s always a good time to be a tough tech startup,” Berdichevsky said at TechCrunch Disrupt. “One reason is that the world doesn’t change just because it has to. It changes because someone goes after something insanely difficult and actually succeeds at it.

Such hard.tech startups run the gamut from advanced batteries like those made by Sila to nuclear fusion, quantum computing, automation and robotics. Any technology that has the potential for such a broad impact also has a huge potential market, and that means a certain class of investors are willing to be in it for the long haul.

“Hire people to do the technical stuff. Follow it but then go learn the other parts. Gene Berdichevsky, Co-Founder and CEO, Sila

“We’re looking for real step-change, game-changing technologies that will benefit everyone, and we think that will lead to huge [total addressable market]” said Milo Werner, General Partner at The Engine.

When Berdychevsky founded Sila, he believed that his company’s technology, a silicon-based anode that promised to improve the energy density of a lithium-ion battery by 20%–40%, would be a significant enough advance that it would have no problem finding shopping.

What he didn’t expect was how long it would take. When Sila’s first product debuted in Whoop 4.0 wearables last year, the road to market was twice as long as Berdychevsky expected.

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