Heavy Hitters: The Digital Industrial Podcast
By Ty Findley
The podcast where heavy industrial industries meet the venture capital ecosystem. Interviewing thought-leading investors and founders to better understand the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for digital industrial innovation.
33. Sam Baker, Scale Venture Partners - Cognitive Apps are the Future of Work
Sam shares how his iconic, early-stage enterprise s/w venture fund found itself investing in emerging tech applications like warehouse robotics, drones, etc., outlines why “cognitive applications” will be the next generation of great s/w companies and how those apps are built on top of the current foundation of cloud & SaaS infrastructure, describes how Scale leverages their Mega-Trends Process to identify the upside potential/alpha within emerging technologies, walks us through lessons learned of what does and doesn’t work to hit product-market-fit in industrial robotic settings where bits meet atoms (hint: start with doing one high-frequency task associated with a tangible ROI really well!), and finally he discusses how he thinks about early-stage investment syndication within these emerging tech and industrial applications.
September 13, 2021
32. Rayfe Gaspar-Asaoka, Canaan - A Generalist VC or a Portfolio of Thematic Specialists
Canaan is a storied, early-stage venture VC fund that has been around 34 years with ~6B AUM across 12 funds, and Rayfe discusses what the macro factors were that led Canaan into expanding a frontier and industrial tech thesis that would drive alpha for their fund. With a large and diverse partnership that is split 1/3 healthcare (digital, biopharma, medtech) and 2/3 tech (consumer, fintech, enterprise/cloud, frontier), he discusses both how to navigate a partnership into a new investment category/thesis and how the diversity of thinking within such a broad partnership leads to the beneficial cross-pollination of complimentary ideas and networks. He discusses how he leverages his thematic specialization to diligence and win deals (hint: a prepared mind from specializing = speed!), how he thinks about financing syndication nuances aligned to the categories of frontier and industrial tech applications (hint: supercharge networks), and finally why he is for off-cycle founder conversations to ensure deep relationships are built long before a fundraising process.
September 7, 2021
31. Ginger Rothrock, HG Ventures - When Industrial Innovation Meets the Physical World
Ginger explains why a private, fourth-generation family-owned industrials business founded in 1930 with over 38 operating companies (heavy construction and materials, environmental services, and specialty chemicals) would spool up a venture group, how her team leverages the extensive resources of The Heritage Group to drive differentiated value to their portfolio companies, why we should all remember industrial innovation relies on physical world innovation (i.e. hardware) not just digital innovation, what team DNA is required to lead these hard tech innovations that often require physical materials, and finally a capital markets discussion on the downstream investment and exit underwriting outlook in these categories (hint: value the moat!).
August 30, 2021
30. Trevor Zimmerman, Blackhorn Ventures - Redefining Resource Efficiency in Industrial Sectors
Trevor outlines how having a sector focus, and associated domain expertise, provides a prepared mind that allows him to both underwrite investments quickly and provide sector-aligned value back to their portfolio companies, where he thinks the venture asset class is headed between sector focused funds and generalist funds, why Blackhorn expanded its multi-stage investment capabilities from seed-to-growth with an opportunity fund that provides the ability to ‘play through’ with investments throughout the lifecycle of a company, how specialized growth equity (and SPACs!) has a key role to play within some of the sub-sectors involved with industrial innovation, and we finish with some tech trends of “What’s hot and what’s hype”.
August 23, 2021
29. Travis Connors, Building Ventures - A Better Builtworld
Travis explains how they saw the opportunity to build an architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and real estate focused network of investors to launch Building Ventures to invest in ‘sapling-stage’ companies, helps define what the terms Built Environment and Builtworld mean to them, outlines why buildings and the associated construction process of making them have a massive role to play in sustainability efforts going forward, why he feels the term “Constructuring” is indicative of how construction is evolving to be more like manufacturing settings, and how he thinks about the end game for startups in this Builtworld sector.
August 16, 2021
28. Bryan Dow, Stifel - A Capital Markets Outlook on Digital Industrial Innovation
Bryan has easily been one of the most active investment bankers within the digital industrial ecosystem, and he kicks off the discussion outlining why he believes Desktop Metal’s SPAC in late 2020 was the catalyst that set off the record level of dry powder in the capital markets to target the digital manufacturing ecosystem. He walks us through how 8 months after Desktop Metal’s SPAC there have been 61 transactions and ~$7B in transaction volume; which is on par for the entire history of investment in this category. Of those 61 deals, 22 deals and $5B were in public equity (SPACS, Follow-ons, IPOs), 22 deals and $1.3B were in M&A, and 17 deals and $420M were in private markets. We then discuss why we both feel this current flurry of manufacturing investment activity both is not a bubble and is structurally very different than the digital manufacturing wave of 2013-2014 (3D Systems, Stratasys, Protolabs, etc.), and how SPACs specifically have re-emerged in the capital markets to fill a growth-stage investment gap that existed in this category. Finally, we wrap up with a ‘What’s hot and what’s hype?’ section on innovation trends Bryan is seeing in the market.
August 2, 2021
27. Gina Chung, DHL - Creating The Logistics of Tomorrow
Gina leads the DHL Americas Innovation Center, a 28,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in Chicago where customers, partners, academia, and thought leaders can experience the next generation of logistics in an interactive showroom environment. From her vantage point helping create the logistics of tomorrow, we discuss what logistics innovation is hot and what is hype, why DHL’s recent sustainability pledge to be emissions free by 2050 is a critical initiative, how to deploy and actually scale innovation within challenging real-world logistics environments, and why we should all be preparing to advance the topic of the future of work within these supply chain environments.
July 20, 2021
26. Mike Plasencia, Ryder Ventures - The Rapid Pace of Transportation & Logistics Innovation
Supply chain tech startups raked in $7.7 billion in venture funding in Q1 2021, an increase of 90.6% over last quarter and a staggering 355.1% year over year (Pitchbook), and transportation & logistics subsegments were a major part of that activity. Mike & I discuss the innovation journey Ryder took to launching Ryder Ventures, what trends and technologies his team are focused on, how he defines and approaches last mile innovation to meet ever-increasing customer experience requirements, and where he sees the broader transportation and logistics ecosystem headed to further engage in the startup ecosystem.
July 12, 2021
25. Guy Perelmuter, GRIDS Capital - Deep Tech's "Present Future"
Guy’s unique background, blended between deep tech and capital markets, guides us through a fun discussion on the topic of “Deep Tech”. We define what “Deep Tech” is, outline why we’re already living in a ‘Present Future’ surrounded by these technologies, evaluate how the future of work will be impacted by these innovations, and then bring it all back to how the capital markets are exploding with funding growth in this category to meet the opportunity ahead.
July 5, 2021
24. Cindy Revol, Perot Jain - The Rise of the Family Office
Family office direct investing into the private markets, and the venture capital asset class specifically, is at an all-time high. Cindy joins us to outline how the Perot Jain office leverages its extensive industrial operator network and physical infrastructure footprint to gather market intelligence on real-world pain points to invest behind, how their broader platform leverages all of its resources to drive tangible value back to startups targeted at those pain points (hint: they’ve actually developed a master-planned smart city, Alliance, Texas, that also serves as a supply chain & mobility testbed for startups), and finally why she feels family office direct investing is here to stay.
June 28, 2021
23. Ram Jambunathan, SAP.iO - Building a Corporate Innovation Platform
Ram has deep experience on both sides of the tech startup and incumbent table, and he brings that experience to help drive SAP’s current SAP.iO corporate innovation platform efforts. We discuss why when SAP kicked off SAP.io in 2016 it all started and ended with thinking about how to drive value to their customers, how SAP.iO has become a gold standard in corporate innovation via activating multiple levers internally and externally (internal corporate venture investing through SAP.iO Fund, SAP.iO Foundries accelerators, SAP.iO Venture Studio efforts, and external venture investment partnership with Sapphire Partners), how his team is leveraging a confluence of innovation trends (open source, API, Ai/ML, platformization) to both support customers on their digitization journeys and drive strategic value and interesting insights back to SAP across different industries and lines of business, and why its critical to take an open ecosystem and platform approach where curated partnerships can flourish with integrations connecting customers and startups.
June 7, 2021
22. Julian Counihan, Schematic Ventures - Seeing sector shifts and adapting to shifts at the seed stage
Julian was ahead of the curve in identifying the e-comm wave that is now transforming our industrial supply chain, and he founded Schematic Ventures to go all-in on that shift to better compete in a venture capital asset class that is only getting more and more competitive. We talk about his transition from being a generalist into a very focused specialist investor, how sector specialization compounds learnings and benefits to his network and within the portfolio, why he is adapting his fund construction strategy to adapt to the emerging pre-seed category and ballooning seed-stage round sizes, why VC specialization benefits decrease as you enter later stage growth investing, and how investors in this sector must take both a grounded exit outlook and an optimistic outlook as to where new addressable markets may form over time. Finally, he even throws in some tactical advice on fundraising for founders in these sectors.
May 24, 2021
21. Santosh Sankar, Dynamo Ventures - Supply Chain Sector Focus
Dynamo was one of the very first sector-focused VC funds that lasered in on supply chain. Santosh outlines how they leverage that sector focus to add value in 3 distinct areas at the pre-seed and seed stage when founders truly need a trusted partner (not just capital), how having a focused 'prepared mind' provides him an advantage in helping founders navigate these complex industrial supply chain settings, and why fund size drives fund construction strategy in a VC asset class that is blurring the lines of how a ‘seed’ round is defined today. We wrap the episode outlining why early-stage VC is still all about carefully evaluating the human element behind the team.
May 18, 2021
20. Enno de Boer, McKinsey - Revitalizing Manufacturing
There has never been a more critical and more opportune time than right now to revitalize the US manufacturing base, and as the Global Head of Manufacturing for McKinsey, Enno has one the most unique vantage points in the world on this topic. We discuss how the US excels at manuf. tech innovation but has work to do in adopting and scaling those technologies domestically, why it’s critical to both bring new talent into and build a more inclusive manufacturing workforce, why McKinsey and the World Economic Forum created the ‘Global Lighthouse Network’ to highlight the best digital manuf. efforts in the world, and having looked across over 10M factories, which innovation trends are making an impact (spoiler: it's not about a specific technology, it's about systems change). Finally, we both align on the analogy that we’re only in the “1stinning” of Industry4.0 adoption!
May 10, 2021
19. Tom Davis, Microsoft - Turbocharging Startup Growth Through Partnership
As the cloud infrastructure heavyweight within industrials, Microsoft is now throwing its resources behind startups through its Microsoft for Startups platform to accelerate vertical growth for both sides. Having sold his last IoT software company into Microsoft in 2016, and now leading Microsoft for Startups focus on industry verticals, Tom brings us a very unique perspective as to how the times have changed for what startups do and don't need to build themselves. We cover a range of topics including where Microsoft wants to start and stop when partnering with a startup, how their platform can help a startup accelerate the path from ideation to MVP to product/market fit as an enterprise-ready solution, what drives a 'build vs. buy vs. partner' decision, and finally, which trends Tom sees emerging in 2021 (hint, Microsoft Teams now has ~115M daily active users). Summary pro tip for startups, don't recreate the tech platform wheel!
April 12, 2021
18. Brandi Bridges, P33 - Industry4.0 Takes an Ecosystem
Industy4.0 will not succeed without a vibrant and diverse community of both private and public support. As P33’s resident Industry4.0 and Ventures expert, Brandi helps lead P33’s mission to turbocharge Chicago’s tech ecosystem stimulating growth and providing inclusive opportunity to all through orchestrating the various voices of the business, startup, non-profit, and government communities. She discusses why building up an inclusive Industry4.0 ecosystem is so important to both P33’s focus on Chicago’s future and the US economy more broadly, how their “Company Connect” effort supports growing tech companies with structured introductions and engagements into industrial incumbents, and finally, how P33 is playing a powerful role to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are brought to the forefront to further a more inclusive future in tech.
April 5, 2021
17. David Hindley, Autodesk - Organic vs. Inorganic Growth in Industrials
There is more inorganic growth activity within the digital industrial ecosystem than ever before, and given there have been over 120 completed acquisitions for over $4B in consideration during David's 18-year tenure at Autodesk, he has seen this wave since the beginning. We discuss how his team uses inorganic activities to find step-function acceleration for Autodesk's roadmap, why he approaches early-stage venture capital investing in a win/win/win mindset, and why it's critical for the current rush of new capital sources into these sectors to build a healthy, viable ecosystem for the long term.
March 29, 2021
16. Burcin Kaplanoglu, Oracle - How Big Tech is Shaping Industrials
Thousands of guests have visited Oracle Industries Innovation Labs, physically and virtually, to see how this Big Tech giant is innovating to help shape the future of various industrial industry verticals. Burcin explains why he helped found the Innovation Labs with a mission to create an environment and physical space that offers hands-on experiences to learn in these industries that often can’t afford to ‘fail fast, fail often’ in operational industrial settings. He discusses how their labs act as a means of Innovation-as-a-Service to help their customers and partners effectively cut through the tech buzzwords to find real-world application and value. Finally, we cover the topic of ‘build vs. partner vs. buy’, and why regardless of the tactic chosen, it is key for Oracle to build a robust ecosystem of external partners and startups that can foster a win/win for all sides to learn from one another along this digital transformation journey.
March 22, 2021
15. Kris Lengieza, Procore - An Open Ecosystem Approach to Construction Innovation
With over 300 partners integrated into the Procore Marketplace, Procore is helping drive collaboration and build a startup ecosystem within a construction industry that is rapidly evolving. Kris is an industry insider who has played numerous roles inside a construction company from project engineer to leading cutting edge construction tech deployments in the field. He shares why, short of Tooey, he thinks he has the best job at Procore, why an open platform & ecosystem approach is critical to the future of construction, what challenges still exist at both the GC & sub-contractor levels, and “What’s hot and what’s hype” in emerging ConTech trends. Finally, Kris gives a refreshingly open answer to why he would never tell his partner ecosystem to only integrate with Procore.
March 15, 2021
14. Hugh Evans, Additive Manuf. Ventures Group - The Additive Revolution
Make no mistake, industrial-grade additive manufacturing is now here to stay. Hugh's background blending both financial market leadership at T. Rowe Price and operating leadership at 3D Systems brings an additive outlook very few have experienced. He discusses why this background led him to co-found the Additive Manuf. Ventures Group investment syndicate, why investor specialization is critical at the earliest stages, how this "2nd wave" of additive investment differs from the 2013 "1st wave" (hint: consumer vs. industrial applications), and the 5 friction points additive is now overcoming at a rapid pace.
March 8, 2021
13. Michael Young, CAT Ventures - The Evolution of Corporate Venture Capital
In the world of digital industrial innovation, corporate venture capital (CVC) can play a major part in supporting and accelerating a startup's go-to-market efforts. CAT Ventures leader, Michael Young, is one of the most experienced corporate venture capitalists in the country, and he joins us to share his outlook on how CVC has evolved over time. We discuss his "3x3x3" investment framework, how a pilot/PoC should be approached, which terms matter when evaluating CVC investment, and why "A corporate's job isn't just to make a startup successful."
March 1, 2021
12. Zach Barasz, G2VP - The Rise of VC Specialization
With its roots at Kleiner Perkins, G2VP is one of the first specialist venture capital funds to focus exclusively on how traditional industrial industries are digitizing. Zach discusses why VC specialization is just good business, makes the case for investors to "Get a Major", outlines why industrial digitization is moving faster than ever, and lays out why SPACs are just getting warmed up in these markets. We also outline why we both believe sustainability and resource efficiency are naturally tied directly to industrial technology investing.
February 22, 2021
11. Will O'Donnell, Prologis Ventures - The Future Of Commerce
Quick fact: an estimated 2.5% of global GPD flows through Prologis facilities that span 19 countries and ~1 billion sq/ft. Will joins us to outline how his venture arm, Prologis Ventures, helps this ~$78B market cap company stay ahead of the innovation curve. He discusses their outlook on fund construction, current innovation trends they are focused on, the power of the data they are collecting, and why VC specialization is more critical now than ever. Finally, we discuss a topic that is mission-critical to all of this... the human element of skilled laborers/heroes (!) who have bravely kept the supply chain moving throughout the global pandemic.
February 15, 2021
10. Michael Keogh, Stanley X - 175 Year Old Industrial Innovator
Mike walks us through how his Stanley X team is helping a 175 year old industrial staple, Stanley Black & Decker, stay innovative and on the leading edge of technology advancements. We discuss why they believe an open ecosystem approach is key within industrials, why they chose to build a venture studio model into their orginization, and how they select and screen which opportunities to engage with.
February 8, 2021
9. David Wilson, Bechtel - Infrastructure = Less Dirt, More Data
Did someone say something about infrastructure? David's role as Chief Innovation Officer within one of the world's largest engineering, procurement and construction firms keeps him as close to the center of this discussion as you can be. We discuss what's ahead for infrastructure innovation in 2021 and how his team takes a structured approach to engage with digital industrial innovators advancing the theme of "Less Dirt, More Data".
February 1, 2021
8. John Tough, Energize Ventures - Lessons Learned from Two Waves of Industrial Innovation
John brings a very unique investment perspective having been an active participant in the famous 2010 energy investment wave and now actively investing in the broader digital industrial wave of venture investing underway. He gets very candid with how Energize Ventures evaluates deals and defines what he coins the "Pre-growth" round of financing. Finally, we dive deep into the importance of taking a data-driven exit analysis from the very earliest stage of company formation.
January 11, 2021
7. Francisco Betti, World Economic Forum - Industry4.0 Taking the World Stage
We're taking Heavy Hitters global! Francisco outlines how the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production platform he leads within the World Economic Forum is helping global leaders from business, government, academia and civil society anticipate the impact of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies on manufacturing and supply systems. We also touch on digital industrial adoption trends, what role the venture capital ecosystem has to play within this ecosystem, and the Global Lighthouse Network joint effort between the World Economic Forum and McKinsey to bring a spotlight on those industrial companies pushing the boundaries of innovation.
December 28, 2020
6. Vivin Hegde, Hilti - Building an Innovative Future Within Construction
Intersecting at the heart of Silicon Valley and global construction innovation, the Hilti Tech Office has a front-row seat to where construction technology innovation is going. Vivin shares his outlook as to what his office is looking for when engaging and investing in early-stage innovation companies within this sector. And everyone likes talking about robots, right? We hit on that trend and many others evolving on construction sites globally.
December 21, 2020
5. Bilal Zuberi, Lux Capital - Science-fiction to Science-fact Within Industrials
As another one of the most accomplished venture investors in this sector, Bilal gives us a masterclass on how he and Lux Capital look for new ways of solving hard problems with a focus on both business and technical risk. We dive into both why he feels the industrial ecosystem is in the midst of going through radical transformation and why the "timeline and magnitude" of an ultimate exit in this sector gets determined over time. We even slip in a discussion about Elon moving from California to Texas!
December 14, 2020
4. Dayna Grayson, Construct Capital - The Time is Now
Dayna is one of the most accomplished and pioneering venture capitalists within the digital industrial ecosystem. We discuss why she believes the time is now for transformation within these "foundational industries" that make up half of the US GDP. This coming wave of innovation was enough to convince her to launch out and co-found Construct Capital, and we talk about all facets, start-to-exit, of how she identifies and supports these innovative founders.
December 9, 2020
3. Usman Shuja, Honeywell HCE - Digital Transformation Lessons Learned at both Fortune 100 and Startup Scale
Honeywell Connected Enterprise Chief Commercial Officer, Usman Shuja, shares his experiences leading digital industrial innovation efforts within both a Fortune 100 industrial conglomerate and a hyper-growth, venture-backed startup. It's a rare combination within the digital industrial ecosystem to find someone who has led commercialization efforts at both ends of that spectrum, and we're fortunate to have Usman walk us through his outlook on what works and what doesn't work to scale in these industries.
November 23, 2020
2. Grant Allen, SE Ventures - Corporate Innovation Through Venture Investing
As both a seasoned venture capital investor and corporate innovation changemaker, SE Ventures General Partner, Grant Allen, discusses his outlook on how corporate venture capital investing is evolving and expanding to better suit the broad range of corporate innovation approaches in market. And given his leadership experience linked to industrial giants Schneider Electric and ABB, Grant shares his lessons learned on what it takes to scale innovation efforts within these nuaced environments.
November 4, 2020
1. Rick Bullotta, IIoT Pioneer - An Introduction to Digital Industrial
To kick off the Heavy Hitters podcast series, Rick Bullota joins us to discuss all aspects of past and present digital industrial innovation. Having spent his entire career focused on industrials, Rick provides a rare outlook on the topic as both an experienced operator and proven venture investor. His vantage point comes both from starting and exiting a number of successful industrial software companies, most notably Lighthammer and Thingworx, and from holding senior roles at companies such as SAP, Wonderware/Aveva, PTC, and Microsoft. We could not be more fortunate to have Rick share his lessons learned on launching, operating, scaling and investing in digital industrial businesses.
October 27, 2020
0. Welcome to the Heavy Hitters Podcast
Join us as deep dive into the world of digital industrial innovation. Bridging innovative technology companies into legacy industrial industries may not get the same glitz & glamour as other parts of the venture capital ecosystem, but these “digital industrial” innovators are critical behind-the-scenes to advancing the way our world designs, builds, distributes and operates daily. Welcome to the Heavy Hitters podcast, the first podcast dedicated solely to bringing this important discussion of digital industrial innovation into the spotlight it deserves. I’m your host Ty Findley, and along with my partners, run Ironspring Ventures a venture capital fund focused on investing in early-stage digital industrial companies. I’ve spent the last decade immersed in the digital industrial ecosystem as both an operator and investor talking with hundreds of founders, investors and industry veterans about their experiences innovating within these legacy industries. And on this podcast, we’ll pull the curtain back to talk with these industrial thought-leaders about their learnings on launching, operating, scaling and investing in digital industrial companies and capabilities. The objective is simple. We simply cannot afford to leave these critical industries, and the amazing skilled labor powering them, behind the on-going technology wave. We hope this podcast fosters a new community of listeners to engage and help us collectively write a new chapter for the future of industrials.
October 24, 2020