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How social platforms creating a level playing field for Deep-tech startups

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By Mahesh Gaur, Head of Marketing- sanchiconnect and Founder- Humans of Digital Marketing

The investment perspective
Unlike generic technology startups, deep-tech startups work on advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, blockchain, robotics, photonics, electronics, and quantum computing. They look promising to address big societal and environmental challenges and have the potential to impact everyday life. And to make it happen they spend an enormous amount of time in research and development and require large capital infusion before successful commercialization. India had about 2,100 deep-tech startups as of 2020, as per industry body Nasscom. From 107 deals worth $567 million in 2019 to 106 deals worth $556 million in 2020 and 133 investments worth over $1.4 billion in 2021, Indian deep-tech startups raised over $2.5 billion worth of investments from VC funds & Family offices.

The new-age entrepreneurs are striving to make societal and environmental changes for good subsequently working on more advanced technologies to offer reliable and economic solutions to mankind. Unfortunately, access to capital for research and development, experiments, engineering, or clinic trials emerges as a major setback to a large number of very-early, early-stage startups.

The business development perspective
The cost of the solution could be one of the reasons why deep-tech companies avoid selling directly-to-end users and see partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions as resulting distribution & growth channels. Several deep-tech startups in India are being acquired by larger global companies to gain access to niche technologies, quality talent, and the network.

KPIT Technologies buys a controlling stake in Bengaluru-based PathPartner. KFin Technologies owns a 17% stake in insurance tech startup Artivatic.ai. US-based cloud video surveillance firm Eagle Eye acquires Uncanny Vision and as you read many more arrangements are in development.

If you look at both perspectives you notice that deep-tech startups need to rely more on engagement with businesses than end-users in the ecosystem – large capital infusion and acquisition by larger global companies.

What could be better than LinkedIn in this case?
LinkedIn playing a deal maker role
With over 830 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, LinkedIn undoubtedly is the largest professional network in the world. There are more than 65 million plus decision-makers and 4 of 5 members drive business decisions on LinkedIn.
From a small employment network where candidates and companies can exchange employment opportunities, LinkedIn now is one of the best-performing sales channels for B2B businesses. Members can access decision makers’ profiles, send them connection requests and start a conversation.

As per Business2Community, 65% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through LinkedIn.

How should deep-tech founders leverage LinkedIn to meet crucial needs – capital and distribution channels?
Background research and connection requests
When you send a connection request to C-Suite leaders, VCs, or Family offices, quite possible you are one among hundreds of requests pending in their network tab. Not sure when they are going to look back at the requests piling up.
Instead, you should follow them for a few days and find out what time they are most active on LinkedIn. interact with their posts very first when they submit them. Chances are they may notice your engagements.

Finally, send a connection request being highly relevant and let them know why are you approaching them in the first 20 words or 80 characters. Make sure you are sending the connection request when they are actively browsing LinkedIn.

Considering the number of invitations already pending in their invitations tab it is wise to observe the time frame they are most active in for at least 3-5 days and engage with their posts or comments.

You have a better acceptance rate now compared to other requests that lack personalization and timeliness. If accepted your job is half done.

Build relationship
Once connected your immediate objective should be building a closer connection. Discuss industry topics, challenges, and solutions that fall in their area of expertise when they are active. Gradually introduce the solution and ask for their feedback or views over a call. Keep them apprised of the latest developments and ask for their support and guidance.

Pitch the proposition
Once you notice active communication and response it’s time to pitch your proposition. Data gathered for LinkedIn’s 2022 State of Sales report shows that the actions of top-performing sellers are paving a better pathway to selling the way buyers want to buy. Top performers use technology, yes, but they don’t use it to simply knock on more doors. Instead, they use it to knock on the right doors, find welcoming buyers and deliver the right message at the right time.

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