By Deblieck Tommy, Managing Director / Partner, Zora Robotics
It is absolutely stunning to see how being disruptive makes you barely bankable.
When you become an entrepreneur, you’re first convinced that difference is an asset, that heading for a direction that no one follows is one of the keys. You with me?
Apple still invokes its “think different” philosophy. As long as you can (and actually, it should never stop), that’s the way you naively think and expects investors and banks will think.
But no matter how big you are, no matter how bold your projects are, no matter how loud you speak: disruption often means exclusion and innovation brings relegation.
One need only look at the way a smart leader like Elon Musk had and still has to fight to find financial support.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t doubt the sustainability of his business or that we shouldn’t qualify his enthusiasm, but how many “small Elon” gave up?
Forget about the scale of Tesla. He was one of the first to bet on electric cars and spent a long time in wilderness. He was told that the global infrastructure and opinion were not ready yet. And that was right, the shift came out after… Too early, too small, too ambitious, too specific… touché!
And now, Tesla is worth a bit more that Ford and General Motors together. This deserves a dance 🙂
We’re in robotics and feel this current thinking every day since we started eight years ago. The boundary between being judged crazy and starting a craze is really subtle. Being moulded in the acceptable model and conform to standards should no longer be the pass to entrepreneurship.
Investors, especially European investors, must change their mind-set. We met a lot of them. Across the world and in Europe. It’s not enough you put yourself at risk, you have to call them when you succeed. And even when you made the impossible real, you still have to weigh much into a heavier market.
Everyone is talking about innovation, digitalization, huge changes. Kings of the world, politics or financial experts, they all swear by disruptive technology, quoting “apps”, “robots”, “ai”, “start-up spirit” as the undeniable components of tomorrow’s life.
Like I said, for our part, we’re into robotics, social robotics to be specific.
With climate changes and Trump’s tweets, I don’t know a trendier topic. And that topic has now lasted several years, meaning it’s certainly not a flash in the pan.
But when it comes to building up partnerships, European investors are not bullish. Unfortunately, a few of investors, and we consider ourselves lucky to team up with them, are up to turn the “we love disruptive” speech into tangible acts.
It’s time to consider both opportunities and risks. It’s time to be “optimisrisk!”
And it’s time to align rhetoric and reality. If not, territories will miss chances to embrace a steady, or prosperous, future. And a lot of ideas and companies will remain on the sidelines.
In finance, like in technology, makers have to be dreamers too.