Andrew Ashur, founder and CEO of Lucid Technologies, a robotics company focused on building robots that do labor-intensive tasks — i.e. its first product, a drone that can clean buildings. The idea came from an accident.
"I watched window washers hanging off the side of a building one day on a swing stage, and this platform got stuck in the way and started slamming against the side of the building," he says. "And the workers are up there hanging on for dear life and I just became obsessed with wanting to solve that problem by leveraging technology to make it safer. I didn't have a background in cleaning or robotics at the time, just really began genuine humanitarian concern."
In the company's earliest days, it got by with a lot of hustling and personal belt-tightening. But after the company got some early traction and proved, conceptually, that drone cleaning could work, a group of local angel investors that were really excited about the progress and opportunity ahead of them provided their first round, which enabled the company to build its earliest version of the cleaning drone. That first prototype got the company into San Francisco's Y combinator. From there, the company was introduced to a great network of venture capitalists and even more angel investors out on the west coast.
The company has since raised two rounds of capital, a process Ashur is becoming more comfortable with as investors become more comfortable with the company.
"It was difficult to get fundraising early on," he says. "I had to really build relationships with the earliest investors for them to develop conviction that Andrew is going to go and do the things he says he's going to do. As we've continued to evolve, it's become less and less personal on who I am as a person and who we are as a team and as a company. So, now in our current rounds of fundraising, people care a lot more about, who are your current customers? What does scale look like? Who's on the management team? What does your sales pipeline look like? More grounded, business metrics and traction. But for early fundraising, so much of it is about, who is the person or the people behind the business while you're still trying to prove things out."
Ashur spoke on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast about launching the business and how his fundraising process has evolved along the way.