Many of my favorite Atlanta startups are in midtown hanging around Georgia Tech (at places like ATDC). They are highly scientific research based startups that have big opportunities to change the world.
Often in those startups, the scientific research is the bottleneck. Either the researchers will make it work or they won’t. For this reason, they are often higher gambles than other kinds of startups, because in addition to product-market fit risk and all the other regular startup risks, they have serious product development risk. But if they succeed, they are often highly defensible through patents and sheer technical barrier to entry.
In some ways, ArrayFire is one of these more highly scientific research type startups. Many of the things we do are scientifically novel and difficult for competitors to replicate.
However there are other kinds of science (not computer science) that are more risky and require bigger breakthroughs to succeed. I wrote briefly before about startup ideas I explored in undergrad. One of these was a company trying to miniturize mass spectrometry. The whole company relied on our ability to catch and trap ions in a magnetic field created by silicon wafers. No one had ever done that before. The electronics to make that happen were super complicated. It was entirely risky. And that risk (plus the fact that I did not really have a vital role in it) led me to leave and pursue my own future at Georgia Tech.
I have a huge respect for scientifically risky startups. They are awesome and innovative in ways that don’t always see the limelight of the fancy Techcrunch’s of the world.
What are your thoughts on startups where scientific research is the bottleneck?