Even though it’s a vast sector in the midst of transformation, manufacturing is often overlooked by early-stage investors. We surveyed top VCs in the industry to gather their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing manufacturing.
Traditionally, manufacturing companies are capital-intensive and can be slow to implement new technology and processes. The investors in the survey below acknowledge the long-standing barriers facing founders in this space, yet they see large opportunities where startups can challenge incumbents.
These investors noted that the pandemic is bringing overnight change in the manufacturing world; old rules are being rewritten in the face of worker safety, remote work and the need for increased automation. According to Eclipse Ventures founder Lior Susan, “COVID-19 has exposed the systemic vulnerabilities inherent to manufacturing and supply chain and, as such, significant opportunities for innovation. The market was lukewarm for a long time — it’s time to turn up the heat.”
- Lior Susan, founder and managing partner, Eclipse Ventures.
- Ajay Agarwal, Bain Capital.
- Greg Papadopoulos, venture partner, NEA.
- Dayna Grayson, co-founder and general partner, Construct Capital.
Lior Susan, Eclipse Ventures
What trends are you most excited about in manufacturing from an investing perspective?
Digital solutions that offer manufacturers greater agility and resilience will become major areas of focus for investors. For example, manufacturers still reliant on manual assembly were unable to build products when factories closed due to the coronavirus lockdown. While nothing would have kept production at 100%, the ability to quickly pivot and engage software-defined processes would have allowed manufacturing lines to continue building with a skeleton crew (especially important for any facility required to implement social distancing). Such systems have remote monitoring capabilities and computer vision systems to flag defeats in real-time and halt production if necessary.