Engineering to Entrepreneurship – Making the jump

As an engineer it’s easy to find a nice entry level 9-5 job and settle down, but is that what you really want? Making the jump from a well paid mechanical engineer to an entrepreneur can be a difficult leap for most. There are obvious tradeoffs and I don’t want to be a venture capitalist who tries to convince mechanical entrepreneurs to take unreasonable risks that myself as an investor might not be willing to take.

The current state of manufacturing automation and IIoT is creating many new opportunities which didn’t exist a few years ago. You get to decide whether to help move your current employer forward or whether to do it yourself!

One way that we help this is through our “starting out” program. Many times mechanical engineers don’t want to take the full leap right out of the gate and we don’t expect them to. They would rather moonlight on their product for a while first. This can be difficult if you need specialized and/or costly equipment. This is how we help, by providing the investment needed to buy manufacturing equipment and proving the space to store your equipment and dabble on your product. Many venture capital firms generate returns by extracting value, we look to help entrepreneurs create value and create companies. Here is a list of entrepreneurs who moonlit their way to large empires – https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/06/these-billionaires-started-their-empires-while-working-day-jobs.html

Many younger engineers think maybe I am not old enough or don’t have the maturity yet to pull it off. We disagree, many younger entrepreneurs don’t yet have as many filters, which can be helpful when exploring new markets. Like MJ said…”I prefer to live in regret of failure than in regret of never trying!”.

I was reminded again in a recent article by Sam Altman (http://blog.samaltman.com/how-to-be-successful) one of the main reasons to consider starting your own company:

You get rich by owning things
The biggest economic misunderstanding of my childhood was that people got rich from high salaries. Though there are some exceptions—entertainers for example —almost no one in the history of the Forbes list has gotten there with a salary.
You get truly rich by owning things that increase rapidly in value.
This can be a piece of a business, real estate, natural resource, intellectual property, or other similar things. But somehow or other, you need to own equity in something, instead of just selling your time. Time only scales linearly.
The best way to make things that increase rapidly in value is by making things people want at scale.

Paying rents will eventually leave you without money and without assets. Collecting rents, charging people for products and saving money will help you achieve your goals. My goal is to find makers who want to run their own company and make their own products.

Forward Capital is at an intersection of two oxy morons. The first is Venture Capital Fund focused on manufacturing. The second is private equity focused on startups. We think that we have found a unique space and we are excited to see where it goes. We are crossroads of manufacturing. The off the shelf tools are becoming more impactful and less costly. We believe that there is a competitive advantage both in creating the tools and understanding how to use them.

We don’t like to plant flags in the ground in terms of which industrial revolution we are in. We do however believe strongly in the concept of mass-customization. Manufacturers are quickly adapting from a one size fits all model to an era of adaption, flexibility and automation.

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