Reimagining and Investing in Legacy Industries with Obvious Ventures’ Nan LI

Nan Li is a Managing Director at Obvious Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs reimagining every sector of the global economy. Nan leads the firm’s investments in companies harnessing deep tech to transform legacy industries like pharmaceuticals, protein therapy, industrial materials, and manufacturing.

In this episode, we learn about what Nan looks for in startups and why it’s not just about a winning business idea. It’s also about the founder and the team themselves. We hear some insights into how the tech world has been changing and moving towards greater adoption of robotics. Nan also shares his predictions for the future and why he thinks startups will increasingly spread advanced technologies to legacy industries.


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. As the tech sector becomes more advanced and competitive, we’re likely to see more startups distributing tech into totally different industries.
  2. When investors look for a startup to invest in, it’s not just about the business. It’s about the people as well.
  3. A systemic change seems to be taking place in the tech world. Customers are much more willing to take risks, and startups are more likely to deploy things like robotics.

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “I think the first thing [I look for] is a team that is not tripped up by the technology alone.”
  • “I think there’s just going to be an explosion of new companies being started that are very problem-specific and tackle different things.”
  • “I think that we will start seeing documented company-wide deployments of robots in the thousands of units in the next five years.”

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

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What We Discuss with Nan

  • Why networking is crucial in the startup world
  • The importance of having an open mind as an investor
  • Why startups will distribute tech to other industries
  • Nan’s favorite examples of startups leading the way in tech
  • What investors look for in a founder and team
  • How startups in the Midwest differ from Silicon Valley
  • What to expect from Nan’s Machine Visions podcast

Recommended Resources

  • Obvious Ventures, venture capital firm investing in entrepreneurs reimagining legacy sectors of the global economy
  • Machine Visions Podcast, a show about the acceleration of robotics deployed across every sector of our economy hosted by Nan Li
  • Toronado, a classic craft beer bar in San Francisco, CA

Connect with Nan

LinkedIn | Twitter | Nan Li