Types of Edge
There are two types of Edge — Technical and Domain.
We love funding technologists who want to apply their skills to hard problems — even if they’re not yet sure what problem they want to solve. Most individuals joining EF fall into this category.
Technical Edges have usually worked on a specific technology for a significant period of time. If you have a PhD or a postdoc, you are most likely to be a Tech Edge. You could also have worked in a commercial research lab. Maybe you’re a professor.
As a Tech Edge you are obsessed with a particular technology. You are at the cutting edge of your field and are working with the world’s best researchers and academics. You love your academic career, but you’re frustrated by the amount of impact you can have. You want to see what your work can do in the real world.
Why should you use your Tech Edge to develop an idea?
Having a Tech Edge means you have deep expertise in a technology that very few other people do. It’s your unfair advantage compared to other founders.
You may feel in your lab you’re surrounded by academics who know more about this technology than you do. Ask yourself, how many of them are starting startups? You aren’t comparing your technical ability to your lab-mates, you’re comparing it to the rest of the founder population.
At EF, we like investing in startups that take technical risk. This means we want you to build something that’s on the edge of your ability, that’s on the edge of what’s possible.
Zehan graduated from Imperial with a PhD in Medical Imaging Computing. EF helped him to apply the visual processing skills from his PhD to the problem of helping computers to imagine. Twitter acquired his company Magic Pony Technology for a reported $150m just 18 months after it was founded.
Rostislav left academia to join EF. He holds a PhD in Material Science and Engineering from the National University of Singapore. He started Involt leveraging the expertise from his PhD to develop supercapacitors as the next generation electrical energy storage medium to replace batteries.
Noor was a junior Professor in Deep Learning at the University of Aalborg before she joined EF. Her work had been cited thousands of times, but it wasn’t enough impact for her. She wanted to see what her work could do in the real world and is now building GTN that combines deep learning and quantum physics to find life saving drugs. Read her profile in Wired here.
Danesh holds a PhD in Nanophotonics from the National University of Singapore. Before joining EF, he had designed and built photonic systems for A* STAR and Sumitomo Electric Labs. He had also published 10 papers in top photonic journals. He used his Tech Edge to start Transcelestial which is developing a space laser network that will be able to transfer data 1,000 times faster than current wireless technology. Read more here.
If you have experience within a certain industry, and have an insight on how it could be improved, you are likely to be a Domain Edge.
Your insight should be non-obvious. It should be surprising. Ask yourself, could someone outside of the industry have guessed this? If yes, you need to go back to the drawing board.
As a Domain Edge you are constantly frustrated by how your industry works or by how your vertical operates. You have tried to make changes where you work, but feel this has had insufficient impact — you’re ready to change an entire industry. You might have a technical background (maybe you did maths, physics or engineering at undergrad), but it’s as likely that you don’t. Either way you’re excited about bringing advanced technology to your industry.
If you’re still a student, or straight out of academia, it is unlikely that you are a Domain Edge. Make sure you don’t confuse Edge with passion. If your idea is in music, sport, dating, housing, food or entertainment and you don’t have years of experience in that industry, it’s unlikely you are a Domain Edge.
Julian had experience as a media executive at Warner Bros and Netflix. He used his experience as Director of Content at Netflix in Japan to start Blockpunk at EF. Blockpunk flips the world of content on its head, giving anime creators more control over digital rights to their work through the use of blockchain technology.
Phoebe worked at Aviva, the insurance company before joining EF. She is now co-founder of Brolly tackling the consumer nightmare of managing insurance products. Phoebe’s experience in the sector gave her a unique insight into the mechanics of the insurance world and the network required to solve this problem. Read more about Brolly here.
Hazel had experience in the music industry and was part of companies such as Shazam, Universal Music, Pandora, Guerva and BandLab. She used her Domain Edge to start Musiio at EF. Musiio takes on one of the toughest problems in the music industry — new artist discovery using deep learning and feature extraction. Read more in Techcrunch here.