VC investment fell nearly across the board in 2012, but the electronics industry remains especially neglected.
Some of the lowered funding is due to lack of interest or the
perceived long-return windows or frustrations about the global
macroeconomic environment. But some of it undoubtedly is due to the
fact that semiconductor start ups are leaner than they were 15 years
ago, fewer engineers, better tools delivering more productivity,
more robust global supply chain to leverage. In other words,
semiconductor startups are less expensive to invest in.
The other trend I cling to is that all the amazing innovation of the
past decades in hardware and software is not only putting
accessible, affordable hardware and software tools in the creators'
hands, it's enabling more and more affordable applications for the
consumer market. Remember, this is a relatively new opportunity for
an industry that has long been a slave to behemoth segments like
mil/aero, computing and telecommunications.
When a kid can conceive of aftermarket driver-assist system that
uses low cost, stick-on sensors communicating via WiFI with your
smart phone or tablet, it's a whole new ballgame (I will
find this guy). And it's a ballgame that allows more engineers and
entrepreneurs to play without the VC stranglehold. Greater risk
perhaps, but more freedom, control and potential reward.
I am not surprised. Fewer than one in ten great ideas ever end up as great products. Since we are experiencing a transition in electronic device use, that makes each technology advancement more risky.
I learned a long time ago that you need to look very carefully at your product/innovation, your projected market, and define the acceptable features list with deliberation.
Many great ideas are just overcome by events before the device can reach maturity. In other cases, the FAD environment for that "type" of product passes, so you have the last great old device.
Venture Capitalists want low risk high payoff/profit devices. There are a lot of different ways to get there, but the VC must be persueded that yours is the one that makes them the money.
When you pitch your idea, make sure that you speak their language. They are not as technically astute as you are, but they know when the numbers work, so show them a low risk path to the pot of gold.
Just my opinion.
If you really do have a low risk to the pot of gold, and could convince other people of this - go to a bank.
VC should be all about medium-to-high risk and large pots of gold.
But I do agree, some VC companies has started to act like banks in their risk portfolio.
I think part of the reason is increased capital gains taxes. Other reasons are that most semi startups are outside the 5 year investment window that VCs look for and the perceived return on the investment is 10 to 1. VCs are wanting more than that. I wonder how many good semi investment opportunities there really are today?
VC are just leeches and fleas on the backs of entrepreneurs. They *will* steal your company. Just ask the founders of Cisco. Use the lean startup model and places like kickstarter to fund your company. If you have a good product, the money will come to you and you can negotiate on your own terms. NEVER loose control of your company. Running a business is not rocket science as Steve Jobs once said.