How to attract investors who fund breakthrough companies •

A lot of problems that are worth solving are not things you can solve in a year or two or even 10.

For founders and investors alike, such long timelines can seem daunting. But for Gene Berdichevsky, co-founder and CEO of battery technology startup Sila, hard tech issues are also some of the most tantalizing.

“It’s always a good time to be a hard tech startup,” Berdichevsky told Disrupt. “One of the reasons is that the world doesn’t change just because it should. It changes because someone goes after something insanely hard and actually succeeds.”

Such startups range from advanced batteries like Sila’s to nuclear fusion, quantum computing, automation and robotics. Any technology that has the potential for such a broad impact also has a huge potential market, and that means a certain class of investors are willing to stay in it for the long haul.

“Hire people to do the technical stuff. Keep an eye on it, but then go learn the other pieces.” Gene Berdichevsky, Co-Founder and CEO, Sila

“We’re looking for real step-by-step, breakthrough technologies that will benefit everyone and we think that’s a huge [total addressable market]said Milo Werner, a general partner at The Engine.

When Berdichevsky founded Sila, he believed that his company’s technology, a silicon-based anode that promises to improve the energy density of lithium-ion batteries by 20-40%, would be such a big advance that it would have no problem creating a ​to find the market.

What he hadn’t expected was how long it would take. When Sila’s first product debuted in the portable Whoop 4.0 last year, the road to market was twice as long as Berdichevsky expected.