Why We Invested – The Foundry Lab Story
Written by Dr Laura Faulconer
One of the latest investments at WNT Ventures is in Foundry Lab – an advanced manufacturing startup company. I’d like to share some of the reasons why we invested in this opportunity to help other founders better understand how WNT approaches investment decisions and what we look for in deep tech startups.
When I first met David Moodie, Foundry Lab’s founder and CTO, he was operating a successful product design and engineering firm, Makegood. He showed me a metal bracket he had made using his “digital metal casting” process. It was hacked together using begged and borrowed equipment and materials. In spite of doing a bunch of things that really shouldn’t have worked… his technique did work, AND it worked well. So well in fact, that it was way cheaper and faster than the old-school metal casting and machining approaches, and even the latest metal 3D printing. David had demonstrated proof of concept from a lived pain point – an ideal position to come talk to early-stage deep tech investor like WNT.
We Invest In Founders We Can Work With Long-Term
WNT worked with David over several months to validate the technology and the opportunity. We brought in technical experts, market research professionals, and patent gurus. We worked and reworked the plan and the financial model together.
Over that time, we saw that David was enthusiastic, dedicated, and ridiculously smart at working through and around challenges – the exact type of founder we love to back. In the end, we bought in to his vision: ‘Digital metal casting will make short-run metal production simple and orders of magnitude faster and cheaper’.
A Big Opportunity Where We Can Add Value
The manufacturing sector is undeniably huge and growing. The Foundry Lab opportunity brought into focus the fact that traditional manufacturing is beginning to be disrupted by metal 3D printing, but the adoption restraints have left a lot of untapped disruption potential. We always evaluate investment opportunities through the lens of whether we can add meaningful value – the manufacturing sector and hardware product development are sweet spots for WNT.
At the time we invested, there were still a lot of unanswered questions – could we find a path to defensibility? Would the actual economics of the final product stack up against the competitive landscape, existing and emerging? WNT decided to accept the risk and worked with Foundry Lab to relentlessly pursue robust answers to these questions. There’s never a lack of risk in any business – but our hands-on approach in risk reduction is one of the biggest value-adds in a startup + WNT Ventures partnership.
Where To Now?
WNT and Foundry Lab are now 10 months into the partnership, and we are excited to have moved into customer pilot trials ahead of the next capital raise. With US market entry on the horizon, Foundry Lab are targeting R&D intensive industries like automotive manufacturing and consumer products. These companies are already investing hundreds of millions to solve this problem and have come up short – we believe Foundry Lab has market timing on their side.
This is another iconic New Zealand startup brand in the making.