How to Attract Top Tier Defense Investors with Sam Gray

How to Attract Top Tier Defense Investors with Sam Gray

Sam Gray

Show Notes

Today on the show, Tyler is joined by the executive director at Silicon Valley Defense group, venture partner at Franklin Venture Partners and former defense innovation extraordinaire, Sam Gray. Sam has a diverse background as a Navy pilot, then working in the Pentagon with some of the most pressing innovation challenges and some of the most prominent leaders, and now navigates both the private capital and non-profit sectors of defense tech. In this episode, Tyler and Sam take a deep dive into raising capital: from what makes startups attractive to venture capitalists, to everything you should and should not expect from a dedicated and educated VC, and a whole lot more. You’re bound to learn a thing or two, so you’d better get a pen and paper handy. 

What’s Happening on the Second Front:
  • Assessing changes in the defense climate
  • Common startup qualities that attract venture capitalists 
  • Why it’s hard to sustain confidence in the government's ability to scale tech
  • Other measures of success aside from securing SBIR
  • Life after defense tech: retirement goals 

Connect with Sam: LinkedIn | Website

Connect with Tyler: LinkedIn | Website

This show is produced by Soulfire Productions

Top Relevant Quotes:

 “I don’t think we’re ever going to get to the point where defense dollars, or federal dollars, are seen as better than commercial dollars. In reality, the best companies and the best investors leverage government dollars to be an add on, or something that can help you when you borrow free revenue, particularly if you’re doing something that’s capital intensive, like long-duration deep tech.”
Sam - 5:12

“I think, what a lot of people don’t realize is that, the economics behind venture capitalism actually aren’t all that great, particularly when you’re starting out small. A $50 million dollar fund traditionally takes $1 million a year to run the entire program—legal fees, travel, any pay, if you are paying yourself.” 
Sam - 10:09 

“A part of me dies every time I see the department of defense, or the broader government, just completely fumble what should be a runaway touchdown in innovation and actually bridging the gap between emerging tech." 
Tyler - 12:31

“There are moments where I’m super excited and I get all these indicators that this is the time that the department of defense and congress are going to get it right, and the investor community and entrepreneurial community are all coming together, and then like five minutes later I see something that crushes my soul and I think, ‘we completely missed the boat on this.’” 
Sam - 13:10

“Venture capitalists shouldn’t just be writing a check then disappearing—that’s not the model. When you get to growth stages, they should be opening up their network and helping you elevate your company.”
Sam - 17:54  



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