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Building a Deep-Tech Startup, Fundings: Prime Lightworks, Nano Nuclear Energy, The Sky Guys
15 February 2023 - A Weekly Publication by New North Ventures
Daniel Turner graduated from Virginia Tech with a Computer Science Engineering degree minoring in Math. He has previously worked for the federal government managing complex and strategic technical development projects. While at TRAXyL, he has successfully executed NSF and Air Force SBIR Phase I & Phase II’s and has led the effort to win additional contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force.
Turner explores his path from the intelligence community to the startup world, his biggest takeaways as a first-time founder, and the application of his government background in the private sector.
Listen below on Spotify:
Key People: Founded by Kyle Flanagan
Elevator Pitch: Electric propulsion systems intended to support space satellites. The company's electric propulsion systems engage in the direct conversion of electricity into thrust for space satellites and spacecraft,
Funding: The company raised $2,481.58 of the targeted $3,929,997.60 of equity crowdfunding via StartEngine as of February 13, 2023.
Key People: Founded by Jay Yu
Elevator Pitch: Nuclear reactors based on micro-small modular reactors and advanced nuclear reactors, which offer readily replaceable mobile reactors to clients along with operative personnel to power various projects.
Funding: The company raised $4.14 million of venture funding from undisclosed investors on February 13, 2023.
Key People: President & CEO Adam Sax
Elevator Pitch: Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) enabled services intended to capture, analyze, and deliver business intelligence for large-scale operations. The company provides UAV services such as aerial inspection, virtual mapping and surveying via camera drones and aerial technology and offers consulting services such as aviation insurance and drone flight training.
Funding: The company filed to go public on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol of DRFY on February 8, 2023. They intend to sell 923,077 shares at a price of $6.5 per share, the expected offering amount is $6 million.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering a new rule that would expose investment funds such as venture capital, private equity firms, and hedge funds to litigation for failed investments. This rule, which is set to be released and put to a commission vote, would address levels of liability for “negligence” related to funds and fund advisers.
As the SEC considers the proposed changes, it is important that it does not overcorrect at the expense of innovation. Venture capital has driven America’s historical economic growth, providing a firm foundation for U.S. national security. Venture funds, in particular, are associated with some of the most successful industries and firms in the world, from Microsoft to Amazon and, more recently, to SpaceX and mRNA vaccines.
Innovation and risk go hand in hand. Rules that would punish VC firms for taking risks will kill America’s ability to compete with China.
Expensive military hardware like a new tank undergoes rigorous testing before heading to the battlefield. A startup called Istari, backed by Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and chair of Alphabet, reckons some of that work can be done more effectively in the metaverse.
Ishtari uses machine learning to virtually assemble and test war machines from computer models of individual components, such as the chassis and engines, that are usually marooned on separate digital drawing boards. It may sound dull, but Schmidt says it can bring a dose of tech industry innovation to US military engineering.
The Defense Science Board concluded that AI-powered autonomy would shape the future of military competition and conflict. But AI technology is mostly being invented in the private sector.
The US DOD primarily works with the private sector through large defense contractors specialized in building expensive hardware over years, not nimble software development. It is valuable to have people like Schmidt, with serious private sector clout, looking to bridge the gap.
Schmidt is involved in several companies developing technologies in areas that should receive more government funding. Schmidt’s work perhaps shows not only the value of government and private collaboration but the need for greater transparency and new accountability as that collaboration grows.
Look for a new episode of Securing the Future Podcasts wherever you listen. In our latest episode, we have guest Daniel Turner sit down with General Partner Jeremy Hitchcock for an engaging conversation where Turner explores his path from the intelligence community to the startup world, his biggest takeaways as a first-time founder, and the application of his government background in the private sector. Listen below on Spotify.