Every story at Lemnos starts with an application. When screening applications, I focus on three things: people, product, and process. I hope to see a team with flashes if not veins of deep experience and expertise, a product I intuitively and rationally feel will disrupt a segment and grow into a product line, and seeds of a process to get from the duct-tape prototype to production.
It seems like only yesterday that we screened Sproutling’s application. My first reaction was “amazing market opportunity, but that product will be hard to build well.” Their founding team fit one of the archetypes we appreciate most; serial entrepreneurs who love and understand the basics of hardware but need help navigating the myriad of challenges separating a prototype from a mass produced product. Chris and Matt have had great success in the software world, knew enough hardware to build a solid prototype, but also knew they were going to need help scaling from prototype through production.
When Sproutling described the product they wanted to build, I bonded to it both emotionally and rationally. That is so important in an application. As a parent, I had instant flashbacks to my first child and the desire to spend any amount of time and money to make sure everything was ok with this new bundle of joy whose cries and actions I did not understand. New parents crave information, and more importantly, insights about how their kids are doing. It starts with their first cry and really never ends 😉 If Sproutling could wrap those insights into an intuitive and beautiful solution, I knew parents would buy their product. The Sproutling team rationally described the size of this community of parents and had done solid research beyond simply describing the total addressable market (TAM). I knew they would build their product with their hearts and their minds.
In terms of process, it’s always great to deal with a serial entrepreneur. Hardware and software process are different, but common engineering practices backplane both efforts. I knew Chris and Matt lived through multiple ship cycles, and our diligence revealed founders who not only knew the “what and when” of development, but the “why and how.” Chris’s style and personality was energizing according to his references, which is a refreshing statement in a Valley filled with egos, intelligence, and “winner take all” engineering meetings. What sealed the deal for me was Chris’s willingness to learn. He craved the opportunity to learn from others how to ship a best-in-class hardware based solution. Sproutling was by all metrics, people, product, and process, a perfect fit for Lemnos.
Chris and Matt have exceeded our wildest expectations, both in the product they are building and their contributions to the Lemnos culture. They truly reflect an archetype of the founders we hope apply to Lemnos. Congratulations to the Sproutling team on their significant seed round investment. We can’t wait to be a part of your expanding story. Onward to shipping your first product!