Investing in the Full Stack – From Hardware to Software

Lemnos has built a reputation over the last seven years as the premier partner for hardware entrepreneurs working on complex systems. We focus on full-stack startups that sense and/or actuate the physical world, and “full-stack” includes software.

Hardware does not exist without software; they are a symbiotic pair. A complex system often has device firmware, device algorithms, client software for multiple platforms, a server/cloud software stack, and a full suite of data analytics applications. More recently, teams have added perception and image processing specialists to their required mix of software resources. This deep software investment is part of what makes hardware so difficult. Hardware startups must build a complete hardware solution and integrate a complete software solution.

We’ve been helping our teams build out software organizations as long as we’ve been helping them build hardware. Along the way, we were introduced to companies that were more weighted to software than hardware. These companies rely on hardware to sense or actuate the world, but most of their gravity is focused on differentiated software.

Our portfolio companies Enview, Dream, and Ceres Imaging are great examples of software companies that rely on hardware to achieve their goals. Enview and Ceres both use drones and fixed-wing aircraft to fly sophisticated sensing payloads over assets, so their software can sense the real world. They don’t have to own or maintain those planes or drones, but they do rely on them to achieve their end goal.

We also invest in software companies that augment critical software stacks associated with hardware platforms like applied robotics. Our portfolio company RavenOps is an excellent example. They provide developer tools and data infrastructure that almost all applied robotics companies were previously forced to develop on their own, allowing them to bring better autonomous systems to market faster. We have more investments in this area that we’re excited to announce soon, and we’ll continue to invest in software startups that facilitate sensing and actuating the physical world.

We know that great hardware requires great software to be successful. They are an AND, not an OR. We are excited to invest in software companies associated with hardware. My long-standing joke is that while we’ll probably not invest in “Tinder for Cats,” we will invest in software that unlocks the hardware renaissance. If you are creating a software startup riding on top of hardware or facilitating hardware, please consider Lemnos as a partner for your growth!