Fernweh at 2023 SXSW

Industrial Tech: Secret Sector Driving Daily Life

Nick Santhanam

Fernweh Group’s CEO, Nick Santhanam, presented at the 2023 South by Southwest festival (SXSW), held in Austin, Texas, this past March. At what the festival organizers call a “convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture,” Santhanam brought the tech by describing leading players in Industrial Tech—companies that have delivered 5x returns over the past decade. His talk addressed who they are, what they can teach about business, and what will propel success in the future.

As in the title of his talk (and of the book he recently coauthored), Santhanam refers to this sector of consistently high-performing Industrial companies as “The Titanium Economy.” The Titanium Economy contributes $400 billion to the US economy and accounts for more than five million jobs, with another 1.5 million jobs yet to be filled. In the process, the Titanium Economy is helping to promote sustainable, inclusive growth in the communities where the companies operate. How can this experience be multiplied? Santhanam proposed looking at what top-performing companies are already doing: transforming at the core, managing portfolios and business models, and leveraging M&A to achieve a leading position in a micro-vertical. Though companies are now facing headwinds and heightened uncertainty, Santhanam noted that Titanium Economy companies have used such times to reinforce the advantages of differentiation.