News flash: Tech is more than software. 

 Silicon Valley is often associated with tech, but in reality, it’s primarily a hub for various software industries. Enterprise SaaS, social media networks, deep AI, and others have all found a home in the Bay. After all, if you need to hire 500 software engineers, it’s the best place in the world to do it. 

 Software has already eaten much of the world. So what comes next? I think we’re going to see a consistent rise of software + hardware companies: “Hard Tech”. Hard tech industries consist of products like electric vehicles, semiconductors, robotics, and agtech. While software companies typically automate processes that we’re doing today, hard tech companies build a completely new way of doing things. Software may help a farm run more efficiently, but a hard tech company will literally build a new type of farm from the ground up. 

 Hard tech thrives in the Heartland. And no, that’s not just because of the awesome alliteration.

 Hard tech requires a diverse workforce beyond software engineers. Building robotics requires electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, machinists, and a customer base – all of which are located around the manufacturing capitals of the country. Other products, like silicon chip production, require similar skill sets and have other needs like 10,000,000 gallons of water a day – something hard to acquire on the dry west coast. These needs are why hard tech companies, like those that focus on EV’s, have primarily set up across the Midwest

2022 Year in Review

Tesla has shown everyone that these types of companies can generate incredible returns because they can hire the best talent. Why? Because great talent is attracted to a company that is changing the world. EVs provide the world with an alternative to gas, reducing pollution. Vertical farming companies can provide food to those in need at a fraction of the cost, right in the middle of a food desert. And some space companies are literally on a mission to change our world. 


Hard tech is going to continue to rise. And the heartland will rise with it. 

Inside this issue

  1. Hard Tech Corridor In The Heartland
  2. Thin-film solar sparks a manufacturing boom in the
  3. Founder Friday: Interview with Charles Robinson
2022 Year in Review

Four days before the 2022 Indy 500, two special places were unveiled. Next to Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, the 460-acre Discovery Park District showcased why smart cities might get smarter faster in middle America. As mentioned in an earlier article here, a connected community of thousands of residents will also facilitate a “lab-to-life” deployment of the latest autonomy technologies, serving as a first-to-deploy site for technology solutions next to faculty expertise and student talent. On the same day, Eli Lilly… Read More.

Pittsburgh on track for standout VC year

Scientists had experimented with cadmium telluride solar panels in the lab since the 1950s, but the technology was commercialized just two decades ago after important groundwork by a pair of Ohio entrepreneurs who founded what would eventually become First Solar.

After years of fighting for a niche next to cheaper and more efficient crystalline silicon solar cells, cadmium telluride has recently closed the gap on cost and energy output. Cadmium telluride panels hold the largest worldwide market share among thin-film solar technologies, which use very thin layers of semiconductor material… Read More.

Electric Battery Company Building $2.6B Plant in Atlanta

Charles, a serial entrepreneur, is a partner with 1888 Capital and co-founder of TeamWorks and Forward Cities. Charles is a graduate from Duke University and his background is in investment banking, ad agencies and worked for several tech startups.  He then built a successful career in real estate before becoming an angel investor. He is a partner in Team Works, a sports tech company, a successful venture which has acquired other smaller companies. Watch the full interview on YouTube