The Venture Chills
Today I got three of those…
They are why I do what I do,
The reasons why I’m looking to back a priori impossible dreams,
They are at the heartbeat of the best and craziest investment decisions,
They are everything that provide this feeling of fulfillness in Venture Capital. When reasons and emotions, are individually blurred, together they provide an impression of absolute clarity about the state of a company and its future, through the incredible impulse of its founders.
It doesn’t come easy to express or explain how reasons and emotions collude into clarity. It would be short-sighted to narrow it to instinct.
First, I believe it all starts by looking for founders going through their entrepreneurial journey with humble-aggressive convictions, obsession, and incredible abilities to learn and execute with speed and excellence. And if this wasn’t enough, all these attributes must be coupled with the unbreakable will of founders to build world changing ventures with a remarkable purpose and a ridiculously huge ambition.
During the early days of any first-time venture, it’s difficult to assess any of those traits as we lack remarkable facts, data points and of course a sense of how things progress. As entrepreneurs move forward and grow-up through their journey, it becomes easier, almost natural, to see who they are and how they evolve.
The first sign of greatness is when they manage to leverage learnings from people around them, make those pieces of advice and resources theirs and pull off excellent results that often exceed expectations.
The second sign of incredible ability is when they successfully overcome difficulties that most people couldn’t cope with. This is when they gain the trust, support and respect from their believers and win allies.
The third sign of remarkable singularity is when founders reveal things that are obvious and brilliant, yet unexpected. They teach you something they have learnt and executed and you feel incredibly humble before them.
Reflecting on how people leverage learnings, overcome difficulties and end up building unique, singular ventures that look like the natural extension of themselves, allows to merge reasons and emotions into unwavering trust and conviction.
A short story of the past
In my early career, I backed two companies, Capitaine Train, sold to Trainline and Zen.ly, sold to Snap. Both in the $200M+ mark with great returns. I was advocating a lot about those companies, people were probably tired of me always talking about them, but I was this one supporter against an opposed consensus. I have always believed that I could compete and win while sidetracking the status quo, and I needed those validations for myself.
Aren’t we all in search for love & recognition?
This being said, I must admit that Capitaine Train should have been the one absorbing Trainline. They had achieved the impossible with the most incredible team. Regarding Zen.ly, even though it runs as an independent company, I sometimes feel nostalgic and responsible as we failed to provide them with enough capital for them to thrive without doubts or concerns.
I got my first chill today when I watched a 2016 presentation from Lucrezia, the CEO of Kukua. Knowing her story and reflecting on her path towards where she stands today made me realize how beautifully big her ambition was and how far she would have taken her venture. It feels like nothing is going to stop her from building one of the most iconic and transforming company that Africa has ever seen.
The second one was when I received the most recent update from Pierre, the CEO of Side.co, shortly after we had talked over the phone. Pierre has always been a very thorough entrepreneur, obsessed with excellence. He’s relentlessly looking to become the most insightful player of the temporary work industry. Witnessing his growing determination and the increasing velocity of their team is one of the most rewarding feelings as I follow their progress.
The third one was reading the newsletter of The Family, and remembering that Phil, the CEO of Dice.fm, was giving a talk tonight. Reflecting on our last board meeting and the time spent together recently, I was remembering our March 2018 meeting, when I realized that he was on the verge of successfully transforming the live entertainment industry by providing the most incredible experience to fans, venues and artists.
Reflecting on those three separates events today reminded me that I had never shared what it’s like to experience the fulfillness of being in Venture Capital.
Today was this opportunity.
I hope that these three companies do become juggernauts in their respective spaces. But regardless of the outcome, the path these founders are on, is a lot more important than the destination itself. As long as they progress through the journey with the purpose and resilience that defines them, I will still get those venture chills. The chills that allow me to believe in them, to build sincere relationships, and to feel grateful to them for letting me be a part of their remarkable journey.