"It may be hard to wrap a plan or even an application around a significant technology breakthrough or science experiment. But just because we cannot quantify an opportunity does not mean it is not a real or a large one. Big technical breakthroughs do not lend themselves to spreadsheet analysis or IRR
calculations, but we will often take the risk if it feels right. Even a technology with 90 percent probability of failure may be worth doing if there is a 10 percent chance of massive impact in a large, important market."

what we look for: seed fund – what matters
what matters / what we care about in your plan

At the seed stage, what we're really looking for is a crazy idea that may have a significantly non-zero chance of working. We want good teams. We don't need complete teams or even complete plans, but the key technology risks of your approach—and the economic and market benefits if it is successful—need to be identified. From a seed perspective, planning for risk elimination at the lowest possible cost is the key variable we look for. Your seed plan should validate your hunches about the market and help you decide what market segment you want to enter.

problem overview
  • What is the problem you are trying to solve?
your unfair advantage
  • Do you have a scientific breakthrough or IP, a business-model innovation, or a unique partnership? And why is now the right time? If your plan is successful, what economic or market benefit will the technology convey to you?
  • Address the innovation in significant detail—think science and engineering, not marketing. Explain what the principles of the technology are. What, if anything, has been proven (and how far is this from a commercial scale)? What risks remain to be proven? What are the three major things that could go wrong? Have theoretical models been created/validated? What external third party has validated your theoretical models and/or experimental results? How long will it take to experimentally validate the technology viability?
your team
  • Who are you, and why are you qualified to lead this opportunity? What skill sets do you bring to this problem? What technical skills will your team need to add? Do you envision yourself as the long-term CEO or in another role? The focus is mostly on you, your goals, and your technical team. Address why you are uniquely qualified to solve this problem. People key to your innovation matter to us.
  • What is the role of every member of your current team? Are they all working toward mitigating your primary risks, or are they really working on non-critical "development" that can be addressed later? Are they the best possible people for meeting your current milestones? Are the founders thought leaders or associated with the thought leaders in the field? What critical people who could address your key risks are missing, and where can you find them?
milestones / financials
  • It is important to understand your pathway toward mitigating the technical risks you face. What are the technical milestones that this financing will achieve? What are your future milestones, and how much capital will you need to achieve each of the milestones outlined? What is the company status and burn rate at each of these milestones? What are your contingency plans if things don't go well (and they seldom do)? Is the amount you're looking for in line with the risk-removal milestones you have outlined? What is your total and operating cash burn (the amount you're spending) per month, in case months stretch into years?
market / competition
  • Do you have a good understanding of the competitive landscape? Are you comparing your company against the technology competition in areas that matter to the end customer? Are you comparing your future product to your competitor's current product or to their future product? Is your innovation addressing a need in a large enough market ($1B plus)?
  • How significant a step forward is represented by the technology or innovation? What impact will it have on the competition? Why can't your plan be replicated tomorrow by a competitor? Why have other players in the field missed out on the technology?