One major problem was that each time we thought we had found a killer app for the materials, we followed that idea only to learn that (1) the materials did not easily incorporate into the commercial process; or (2) while our material gave the commercial product significantly improved properties (strength, fire retardence, etc.) the resultant modified product was not initially tested to have sufficient advantage to whet the appetites of the potential client, or (3) we placed reliance on published data on performance of a commercial product which we thought we enhanced by more than an order of magnitude, when in fact the true numbers were hidden by the manufacturers as trade secrets and our materials only offered a marginal gain.
There is a lesson in all of this. With technology, market pull works far better than technology push. Not so very different from other product areas. This was the most expensive loss I have taken in angel investing, and a number of friends came along too. You would think that I had learned my lesson in the 1980’s with my first company, which while successful (Inc. 500 in 1989) and providing a more than satisfactory exit for our investors, failed miserably on two technology push product ideas.