How to pivot for success in deeptech?| Ed Wood (Nu Quantum)

Deep Tech Product Podcast with Ravi Sundaram
Deep Tech Product Podcast with Ravi Sundaram
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Welcome back to DeepTech Product, where we delve into the world of deep tech product management. Today, we bring you insights from a riveting conversation with Ed Wood, VP of Product at Nu Quantum. Ed’s journey through the realms of quantum computing and hardware cryptography offers invaluable lessons for navigating the complex landscape of deep tech product development.

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We cover the following topics:

  • What is the specific challenge in quantum computing that Nu Quantum is addressing, and why are their products needed?
  • What are your responsibilities as VP of Product at Nu Quantum, and how do they vary across sectors and companies?
  • Can you walk us through Nu Quantum’s initial product vision, the specific problem it aimed to solve, and the customer feedback that led to a pivot?
  • How did you approach the internal feedback process, and was there immediate buy-in or a period of debate?
  • What was the process of shifting gears at Nu Quantum, and how did you manage the transition from the old vision to the new one?
  • Did it require significant changes to the underlying technology, or were you able to leverage existing components?
  • How do you balance focusing on the new product vision while keeping an eye on future changes in direction?

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Key Takeaways:

Starting with Market Foundations

Ed emphasizes the importance of understanding the market before diving into product development. Nu Quantum’s journey began with a thorough analysis of potential markets, examining their dynamics, sizes, and existing problems that the company’s technology could solve. This foundational step ensured that the team had a clear vision of the market needs, enabling them to tailor their product accordingly.

Embracing the course correction

Initially, Nu Quantum aimed to produce components for quantum security markets, including random number generators and quantum key distribution systems. However, extensive market research and customer feedback revealed a more pressing need in the field of quantum computing. The company pivoted to focus on developing solutions that interconnect quantum computers, addressing the scalability limits of individual modalities.

Ed describes this pivot as a challenging yet necessary course correction. The decision was backed by relentless conversations with industry players and validation from larger players, who acknowledged the need for quantum networking.

Understanding the Market and Finding Urgency

One of the key insights Ed shares is the importance of finding a market with a sense of urgency. “You can tick all the boxes—there’s a need, people are willing to pay, you can make a profit—but without a sense of urgency, you’re not going to make any money,” he explains. This urgency is crucial in deep tech, where the development cycles are long and the investment required is substantial.

To find this urgency, Ed and his team conducted relentless market research, involving numerous calls and meetings with potential customers and industry players. This exhaustive process helped them triangulate their understanding of the market and validate their new direction.

Dont get hypnotized by your own tech

Ed also emphasizes the danger of getting hypnotized by your own technology. “Deep tech is fascinating and magical, but just because it’s cutting-edge doesn’t mean it automatically translates to a product people will pay for,” he warns. Staying sober and focused on the business value and real-world applications of the technology is essential.

This approach helped New Quantum pivot from focusing on quantum security components to addressing the broader and more urgent need for quantum networking. By constantly questioning the business benefit and ensuring their technology solves a real, urgent problem, Ed and his team have been able to stay on course.

Building the Roadmap and Gaining Buy-In

After identifying the new market direction, gaining buy-in from the board and the team was crucial. Initially, there was skepticism, but validation from major industry players helped solidify the new strategy. The transition involved leveraging existing technology and securing grants to mature additional components needed for their new product focus. This strategic alignment has allowed New Quantum to maintain a clear roadmap while being adaptable to market changes.

Lessons for Deep Tech Product Managers

Ed’s advice for other deep tech product managers is grounded in experience:

  • Focus on Urgency: Ensure there is a real, urgent need for your product.
  • Stay Grounded: Don’t get hypnotized by the tech itself; always tie it back to business fundamentals.
  • Relentless Market Research: Engage deeply with potential customers to validate your direction.
  • Clear Communication: Be able to articulate why a market is healthy and why your product is valuable.

Resources:

Brought to you by:

With support from :

  • The Quantum Insider- the world’s leading database on quantum investments and market activity. TQI provides insightful data and analysis to navigate the rapidly evolving quantum landscape. Visit https://thequantuminsider.com/ to learn more

For inquiries about sponsoring/supporting the podcast, email: deeptech[email protected]

Time stamps :

(00:00) Teaser

(00:52) Podcast Intro

(01:26) Nadia’s Intro

(02:31) Role at Sandbox and the diverse product portfolio

(05:52) Product management strategies for such a deeptech (08:40) How to approach customers when product is not ready

(12:00) How to provide incremental value?

(14:50) When does make sense to buy vs make?

(16:55) Multiple reasons to do acquisitions

(18:03) Tactics for identifying acquisition targets

(20:57) Post acquisitions actions and strategy

(26:09) Internal and external acceleration of strategy post acquisition

(27:00) Activities to integrate teams post acquisition

(30:14) Examples of successful acquisitions

(30:25) Advice to your past self?

(30:35) Book recommendation and deep tech trend

(42:05) Outro and links to join the deep tech product community

If you found this article to be informative, you can explore more current quantum news here, exclusives, interviews, and podcasts.

Ravi Sundaram

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