A Fast And Founder-First Deep Tech CVC fund

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(Image: TDK Ventures)

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TDK Ventures is a deep technology-focused venture fund, investing globally in founders building revolutionary early-stage innovations across the energy, industrial, mobility, health, materials, and climate sectors. TDK Ventures invests primarily in scalable solutions that contribute positively to society with a line of sight to commercialization.

Fund Snapshot

  • Stage: Seed – Series B
  • Check Size: $0.5-5M
  • Geography: Global
  • Lead/Follow: Follow, Occasionally Lead
  • Revenue/Valuation Thresholds: None, they are return multiple-oriented

About the Fund

Why was the fund created?

TDK Ventures is the exploration engine for TDK Corporation. TDK is a 100,000+ employee company with over 100 core business groups spanning sensors to batteries, and TDK Ventures fulfills TDK’s need to discover and learn about new technologies and markets beyond the traditional context of corporate development and R&D.

TDK Ventures invests to understand what TDK should be looking at beyond its current horizons, and is building a core competency for working with founders developing technologies that dovetail with products and strategies essential to the continued growth of TDK. As an exploration engine, the TDK Ventures team also has a broader mandate to invest in and learn from technologies in completely new areas of digital, energy, and environmental transformation that may help guide TDK in building new competencies, products, and businesses in the coming decades.

What is a contrarian idea TDK Ventures believes to be true/accurate?

TDK Ventures believes that solutions rooted in foundational sciences are at the core of properly solving problems posed by the climate crisis. One of TDK Ventures’ essential competencies is comfort and understanding of hardware – and being able to help founders building hard tech with resources and guidance in commercializing their products. They are excited about technologies that can change current paradigms and bring physical products to the table to solve the problems we are facing today.

What domains in climate tech does TDK Ventures have the greatest expertise in?

At a fundamental level, everyone on TDK Ventures’ investing team has a background in foundational sciences or engineering and is passionate about helping climate tech founders bring their innovations to life. This combines with the decades-long experiences of TDK Corporation in commercializing cutting-edge electronic components, sensors, actuators, power systems, and lithium-ion batteries to build expertise in evaluating climate tech as it relates to the energy transition, specifically in energy storage, renewables, and energy management. TDK Ventures also has combined team and corporate expertise in chemical and materials engineering to support investments more broadly across electrochemistry, hydrogen, fuel cells, and carbon capture.

What type of portfolio support does TDK Ventures provide?

TDK Ventures is a financially-focused CVC that seeks to provide strategic support to its portfolio from TDK Corporation when it is most valuable to founders, and without constraining portfolio growth. In their pursuit of being “smart money” for deep-tech founders, TDK Ventures supports portfolio companies to seek positive collaborations with TDK for technical support, product development, and business development.

In addition to the relationship with the parent company, TDK Ventures is focused on comprehensively helping founders with:

  • Fundraising
  • Hiring
  • Market research and strategy
  • Governance
  • Channels partnerships
  • Customer network

About Investments

What is TDK Ventures’ investment process and timeline?

TDK Ventures encourages startups to understand the fund’s focus before reaching out and has an introductory deck about their fund available online in an effort to be as transparent as possible.

TDK Ventures is generally thesis-driven and invests based on deep insights developed for each portfolio company. The team balances pro-active thesis development, which enables them to move fast when meeting startups where technical and market knowledge is established, with fast-moving diligence relying on internal and external experts to learn about promising new technologies. They pursue conversations with startups when they have a deep enough understanding of a sector to ask the right questions.

TDK Ventures’ diligence process is founder-friendly and can move as fast as needed without dependence on explicit buy-in from TDK Corporation. At a high-level glance, they seek to understand a startup’s potential for outsized returns, strategic relevance, and positive societal impact. Some key pieces the team assesses in each startup are the technology differentiation, unit economics, team, and traction that will lead the company to be a “king of the hill” in their space.

What would make TDK Ventures consider deviating from their typical criteria?

TDK Ventures will consider investing outside of their “sweet spot” in situations where a startup’s core innovation is in an area that’s very relevant to TDK Corporation. They will also consider investing in software that enables climate impact in areas where the underlying hardware may be less differentiated / more commoditized.

About The Author

Daniel Kriozere

Daniel Kriozere

Co-Founder @ The Impact

Daniel currently works at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a Product Manager. Outside of his day job, he is a Principal at C3, Tech Scout at For ClimateTech, and Venture Scout at Prithvi. He also works with various climate incubators/accelerators (Cleantech Open, Techstars, and Joules Accelerator) and runs The Impact and Innovate Climate – both are newsletters covering startups in the climate space.

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