What is hard software?

Feb 20, 2020

In Hard tech, I talked about the overarching thesis at Root Ventures. But I mentioned that my specific area on the team is hard software. What do I mean by that? I'm tempted to say, "you know it when you see it," but here's a few heuristics I think about.

Are we underwriting technical risk?

  • The primary risk at seed stage is technical risk.
  • The key milestone for Series A might be roadmap delivery.
  • The idea may be difficult to explain to non-technical folks.

Is building the technology hard?

  • Science risk is mostly derisked, and the underlying technology is ready to be brought to market.
  • Any time the customer is themselves an engineer.
  • The "why now" may be recent developments in technology.
  • The technology may be defensible. There may be significant IP.

Is the founding team technical?

  • One or more of the founders need to be technical to pull it off.
  • The early team is entirely or mostly entirely engineers.

Note: I'm not talking about anything here other than indicators that an idea might be the kind of software we invest in. Very important questions like market size and go to market strategy are not in here!