HOW TO REACT WHEN ENCOUNTERING DEFENSE RELATED STARTUPS
By: Guillaume Meulle
VCs tend to stay clear from defense techs. There are some exceptions however, and mirSense is one of them. We are thrilled to co-lead their first €2,0M financing round !
Let’s be clear, this one is (almost) all about management. I met Mathieu & Mickael 2 years ago, after they left their lab to launch mirSense. Their plan was to work on civil applications for the quantum cascade laser they’d helped develop for a defense program, but they didn’t really need our money.
Their plan was to rely on their first clients to launch the business, full R&D and successful tests included. It’s one thing to say it, and it’s another one to go all the way.
With their 10+ years of industrial experience and outstanding business skills, Mathieu and Mickael endured all the expected hardships. And yet, they managed to stay close to profitability the whole time. Even more, their R&D program is more promising than ever.
At XAnge, this is exactly the kind of maturity we’re looking for in a founders team!
THE CASE FOR DUAL USE TECHNOLOGIES
Defense techs rarely make good investments, and VCs wisely tend to steer clear from them. There are exceptions, however, in the case of “dual use technologies” — those that can be used for both civil and military aims. Such technologies become attractive when the civil market opportunities exceed the military ones which are uncertain. It is obviously the case with mirSense.
The first applications for the Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCL) developed by the lab were Direct InfraRed Counter Measures, i.e. countermeasure systems that protect aircrafts from infrared “heat seeking” missiles. As one can imagine, this market is rather small.
Quickly, the team started working on much more peaceful applications for their technology, and gas sensors proved the most promising. Their lasers can detect any given gas and its density at a lower cost than any other technologies on the market. Even better: their semiconductors are the smallest available.
NEXT GEN SENSORS FOR THE “GAS AGE”
The interest in our atmospheric environment is increasing every day. Governments, industries, the World Health Organization… all need reliable statistics to monitor their policies.
mirSense will provide them with the smallest and most affordable gas sensors on this $3 billion market.
With the funds raised, the company will work on making the sensors 5 or 10 times smaller. They will be easier to implement, and cheaper to build — by a factor of 30. The founders will also recruit a world-class sales and marketing team to support their effort.
A major milestone was reached this year, with the signing of a big industrial partnership to develop a sensor for a mass market. We can’t wait to see mirSense unleash its full potential !