Hard technology is difficult, but big breakthroughs can come with exorbitant returns and huge opportunities. cantos has just closed its third fund to invest in forward-thinking companies in the pre-seed and seed stage to “improve billions of lives and save the planet.”
“I have a bachelor’s degree in international relations. I’m not technical at all. I’ve always been a sort of reader and viewer of science fiction,” admits Ian Rountree, general practitioner and founder of Cantos Ventures. “You hear all these truths that I think are largely a myth of modern venture capital. Those myths include that ‘hardware is hard and slow’ and that hard technology is more capital intensive. There are assumptions that it is not as good as a And yet when you look at the biggest problems in the world, you wonder If we want to reduce climate change, disease, armed conflict, existential risks, poverty, building real shit in the real world has in many cases probably more impact than software, but venture capital was basically chased away from it, which didn’t sit well with me.”
Rountree looked deeper into the sector and where others saw risks, he saw opportunities.
“If all of Sandhill Road categorically says I’m not investing in hardware and bio, then it might be an interesting hole to step in,” says Rountree.
Cantos 3 focuses on pre-seed and seed-stage investments in highly tech climate, TechBio, aerospace and next-gen computing startups. It specializes in taking technical risks alongside its founders and will tolerate more of it than other venture firms, it claims.
“We try to minimize market risk and we look for companies that make raw materials cheaper and with a lower carbon footprint, raise the standard of care or improve the defense capabilities of democratic countries. We believe that the largest companies can have the greatest positive impact on people and our shared planet if managed well, so we strive to support entrepreneurs with the ambition to build $10 billion to $100 billion businesses and beyond.” , says Rountree. “Our thesis is that such companies will either offer platform potential or be full-stack. We see our founding partners as the new industrialists.”