Case story: ATLANT 3D Nanosystems
“Startups are a rollercoaster, and one needs to enjoy the ride”, Dr. Maksym Plakhotnyuk, PhD in Nanotechnology, CEO and co-founder of ATLANT 3D Nanosystems. ATLANT’s journey to capital has, as Maksym puts it, not been without highs, lows and sharp curves. Read how the deep tech company found the right path to scale with success.
Next stop: Mars
Maksym was curious about science and entrepreneurship from his childhood, when he created a home-made chemical lab in his parents’ garage and earned pocket money by vaccinating rabbits with his father, a veterinarian, back in the 90s in a small village in Ukraine. Many years, two masters and a PhD later, he obtained a Fulbright Scholarship with a dream to make nanotechnology centers everywhere in Ukraine, to give access to advanced technologies and support innovation in his home country. But on a journey to precise manipulations with atoms, Maksym teamed up with other prominent engineers and scientist, Ivan Kundrata from Slovakia and Prof. Julien Bachmann from Germany to start ATLANT 3D, a startup with a vision to democratize access to nanotechnology and enable deep tech innovation, but now on a global level to encourage many more people to innovate using their own nano center. Maksym and his team were the first to create and commercialize a unique technology bringing until now hypothesized molecular assembly machine to life, predicted by such prominent scientists as Prof. Eric Drexler and Dr. Ralph Merkle. Based on this technology ATLANT 3D developed the first industrial machine for atomic and molecular assemblies and fabrication of micro and nanodevices - the Nanofabricator - that was turned from a science fiction idea to a real-world device.
“We started ATLANT 3D with a vision to democratize access to micro and nanotechnology on a global scale and enable on-demand micro and electronics fabrication on Earth – and beyond. I want to make great technology that can change the world and make the most precise printer that can go to Mars one day”. With a great idea and high ambitions Maksym decided to find investors who could help bring ATLANT 3D Technology to the market.
Scaling is a team sport
As ATLANT 3D embarked on the journey of finding potential investors, it became evident that it would not be as easy as first thought. Finding the right people with the right competencies, passion and understanding for the deep tech business was a challenge, as deep tech is a long-term investment business area, that not many investors have an understanding for. Furthermore, it has been a challenge for ATLANT 3D to explain to potential investors why they needed large sums of capital in order to scale, even though they were still in an early stage. “The two most notable challenges we have encountered have been: Scaling the business from an idea to a running company and finding the right people that have the skills and passion to help our technology and vision. Denmark is a very nice country with a lot of smart people and advanced technologies, but it is one of the hardest places to raise capital for deep tech ventures. So far, we were self-funded and by Innovation Fund Denmark and EU H2020 public funded projects, we also highly appreciate pre-seed investments from Sony Startup Acceleration Program that believed in us early in our journey.”
One of the biggest learnings ATLANT 3D has taken away from their capital journey is to surround yourself with the right people. From picking visionary investors that are driven and passionate about the business to highly motivated team members, which can drive a company into the future. During ATLANT’s 3D capital journey they have also sought experienced people that understand the game of raising capital and the deep tech business, which have been a vital support on their capital journey. “Scaling is not a sprint – it’s a marathon, but also a team sport”, Maksym.
ATLANT 3D has come a long way during the two years they have been in business. The technology has proved to be working efficiently, the interest in ATLANT 3D is great from many Fortune 500 companies and the team has grown from just three co-founders to a team of 14 colleagues that are highly valued by ATLANT’s co-founders. “We have come a long way since the beginning, because of our relentless team that are both brilliant and enthusiastic about being part of the ATLANT 3D journey– it can’t be emphasized enough how important it is to surround yourself with people who are passionate and involved with the vision and company. We ask our team why they choose and stay with ATLANT 3D and we receive the answer that one would not expect in other places – “It is super interesting, challenging; it is cutting edge technology and huge potential; we do things we cannot do elsewhere, and we receive respect for our work”.
Since the home-made lab in his parents’ garage in Ukraine, Maksym has come a long way. He wouldn’t have made it as far as he has without the people, the team that believe and work towards a shared vision. “Don’t be afraid to dream bigger – having a great idea for now is good but think further into the future!”
Maksym has always dreamt big and continues to do so. We can’t wait to read and hear about the most precise printer made by ATLANT 3D that will be going to Mars.
Read more about ATLANT here
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