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Level Eight is a venture capital firm focused on science-based solutions that improve the physical world.  We invest in early and growth stage businesses with proven technology in Europe and North America.

Ann Arbor | Cambridge, UK | San Francisco

Focus

We live in an age characterized by accelerating advances in biochemistry, materials science, robotics and artificial intelligence.  These enabling technologies are being combined in novel ways to create solutions that are cleaner, smarter and more sustainable than those they displace.  Level Eight invests time and capital in the outstanding teams driving this disruption.  We are drawn to companies and solutions that:

PHYSICAL

Positively impact the physical world rather than being purely virtual

PROVEN

Have demonstrated efficacy, even if it is only at prototype scale

IP

Own defensible intellectual property that is integral to the solution

COMPELLING

Possess sufficiently compelling advantages to drive rapid customer adoption

VIABLE

Are economically viable without government subsidy or leaps of technology

MARKET

Have a substantial addressable market–we are not fans of market building

Sectors

Many of the most exciting opportunities exist at the intersection of multiple disciplines, across a wide variety of sectors.  While each business is unique and will be considered on its own merits, we see high potential in the following areas:

Materials and Chemicals

New and existing applications are demanding materials not only with advanced properties but also with their ultimate disposal in mind.  Green chemistry has become an important approach to achieving greater resource re-use and sustainability while newer areas like synthetic biology are already starting to bio-engineer next generation products.  The re-use of by-products such as carbon dioxide and methane is vital to the global carbon economy and reducing global warming.

Clean Energy

Renewables such as wind and solar have been incorporated in the energy generation mix, while bio-solids still require more efficient processes to be economically viable in most situations.  The dumping of organic waste in landfill is not sustainable because the methane released is 21 times more damaging than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.  We see no reason why, with the aid of good technology and operating practice, bio-digesters cannot be operated successfully without the benefit of subsidies.

Resources and the Environment

Clean water supply and waste remediation are key challenges to our society.  No longer regarded as cost burdens, they are essential and will increasingly play a role as economic resource generators. This is fueling improved clean-up and separations technologies, less toxic industrial water processing and biocide chemicals, smarter sensing, measurement and data communication technologies.

Sensors and Inspection

Efficient accurate sensors are essential to many areas from robotics and manufacturing to environmental monitoring and healthcare.  Miniaturization and Internet of Things capabilities are being augmented with active functions such as drug delivery and autonomous control.  Image analysis technologies are providing in-situ real time assessment of vital parts and structures, with machine learning adding accurate failure prediction.

Transportation and Logistics

More than a century of conventional wisdom is being turned on its head by electrification, autonomy, mobility as a service and compelling mass mobility solutions.  While grand plans for and huge investments in fully autonomous vehicles grab the headlines, there are a number of nearer term opportunities including smart components, intelligent infrastructure upgrades, novel and recyclable materials.

Investment Process

Our approach has been formed by decades of experience building, operating and financing technology businesses.  We dive deep (sometimes painfully so) into the technology, market and team.  We are curious and will explore various growth options and risk factors for the business with you.  Understanding what drives your business, the hurdles that need to be overcome, and how we work together enables you and us to determine the fit.  We aim to provide much more than finance, becoming long-term partners in building the business.  If we are not the right investor we will let you know quickly, and we will clearly explain why.  We will not tell you to call us back when you have a lead investor, or that some Goldilocks attribute of the business is too big or too small for our sweet spot.  If you have invested time to answer a multitude of questions we owe it to you to be honest and direct.

We are unlikely to be first money into the business, typically leading or co-leading Series A and Series B rounds.  In some circumstances, often close to a value inflection point for an early stage business, we will extend bridge financing prior to making an equity investment.  Check sizes range from $500k to over $5 million, and are usually large enough for us to get a seat at the table.  Capital intensive businesses with sound unit economics do not scare us; we have decades of experience putting sophisticated tax-efficient capital structures in place.

Post Investment

After we have invested we will not constantly call you to ask how things are going, but we expect you to be both brutally honest and quick to share significant good and bad news with us.  We also expect you to be organized and focused in all aspects of the business: from development and recruiting, to sales and cash management.  We can help you round out the team, enabling you to focus on the areas of the business where you can add the most value.  The Level 8 partners have all been in your shoes growing businesses with partial knowledge and limited resources.  Most likely we, or someone we know, will have faced and overcome similar challenges.

At our core we are business builders and are not wed to formulaic investment horizons.  As long as the business is making steady progress and the macro environment supports continued growth as a standalone entity we will almost always support management’s desire to continue building the company.  For most of the businesses that we invest in an exit to a strategic buyer is the most compelling option: your technical innovation can be integrated with their complementary offerings and sold through their much larger distribution network.  We have been on both the buy and sell side of many such transactions and can help you negotiate favorable terms while avoiding the pitfalls.

Occasionally a business may have a protected market position and high free cash flows.  In these cases, and once the business has organically grown to critical mass, we are open to cash flowing the business rather than seeking a conventional exit.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, there are times when an unsolicited offer the for business is so compelling that it is impossible for shareholders to resist.

Location

We recognize that the coastal startup hotbeds of United States do not have a monopoly on world class talent and innovative ideas.  This is especially true for the science-based technologies and teams that we focus on.  Accordingly, we invest in businesses across Western Europe, the United States and Canada from offices in Ann Arbor, Cambridge UK and San Francisco.  A key strength is helping portfolio companies expand operations across the Atlantic.

Ann Arbor

Cambridge

San Francisco