Sparking Wonder: The Magic of Deep Tech Investing

What watching magic and investing in deep tech have in common

Recently, the Ubiquity family came together for a very special event. With the global pandemic and quarantine having worn us down for the past six months, I wanted to break up the monotony with a change of pace. So I had one of the world’s greatest magicians, John George, perform just for our Ubiquity family (the teams and family members that power our 20 Ubiquity portfolio companies, as well as the technical experts that comprise the Ubiquity Extended Team).

With almost 100 faces visible in my Zoom window, it was incredible to see jaws drop in unison as we watched John George’s outstanding magic performance.

That is exactly why I put the event together. We live in a world where anyone can Google the answer to any question, and people no longer revel in the magic of the unknown or the discovery of something new. We’ve lost that “spark of wonder” that previous generations felt when looking at something and questioning “how does this work?” without having immediate access to the answer. 

From childhood into adulthood, watching magic has been my go-to way to inspire that special feeling. My pursuit of that spark of wonder is also why I’ve built a career out of investing in deep tech startups. But unlike a magic trick, where the wonder evaporates once you learn how it’s done, in deep tech, the wonder is only magnified after peeking under the hood.

The Magic of Deep Tech Investing

Investing in deep tech isn’t like investing in yet another CRM application or photo sharing app. When researching those types of startups, you rarely experience a “wow” moment. 

On the other hand, I can walk out of a meeting with a deep tech startup with my entire perception of what’s possible having shifted. I felt this way when I met the team at Diligent Robotics and found myself thinking, “I didn’t know robots can move themselves around a hospital and pitch in with various jobs!” I felt it again after flying to New Zealand and seeing for myself Halter’s technology that can move cows to precise locations across a dairy farm.

When I meet a team doing something so revolutionary, it almost feels as if I’m witnessing magic. But the technology makes so much sense that I want to do everything I can to bring it to its full potential.  I am always on the lookout for startups that nail that magical overlap of (1) sparking wonder while (2) creating measurable business value for customers.

It’s hard to recreate the feeling of wonder that magic evokes, but I’m fortunate enough to be involved with startups developing technologies that not only continue to astound me, but will transform the world. 

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C. Clarke


Are you a founder creating magic in the smart hardware or machine learning sectors? Let’s talk! Leave a comment or get in touch with Ubiquity Ventures.

Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm focusing on early-stage investments in software beyond the screen, primarily smart hardware and machine intelligence applications.