I’ve found a new mission that I am now working on. I joined Gaia Capital Partner as a General Partners, but here’s some info if you’d like to know more:
I sense we are at the beginning of a new era. The US elections, pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, positive diversity waves, the final stage of Brexit, and 2020 as a whole have felt like the start of something entirely new. I recently saw a lovely picture of the four founders behind the photo marketplace, EyeEm, which is undergoing a radical team change, and it provoked a deep feeling that nothing will be as it was. I have never had this pronounced of a feeling before — that we’re embarking upon a radical change — and I expect it will rapidly take form in 2021.
There was a time for startups that I can’t remember, because I didn’t partake in it. I rarely hear about it outside of Silicon Valley, because much of it disappeared in a flash, and a strong community hadn’t formed behind it. The period suddenly ended when the 1999 tech bubble burst, and with tech being in its infancy, it took time for a new era in tech to emerge. It took nearly a decade for Europe. Since 2010, a new era took hold and is the foundation from which the tech community now builds. That foundation is an institutionalized, structured, European ecosystem, from which founders and investors are now collecting the fruits of their labors. There are not many unaddressed blind spots left in terms of the minimum requirements that a community needs to survive and thrive. On the other hand, in the global context, particularly the capital that is flowing into technology in the US and China, we see that there are still plenty of new opportunities for Europeans to explore.
There will be many changes in the European startup community, taking form at an accelerated pace. The status quo will continue to turn to each other for inspiration, investing in a few new themes in the coming years. There will always be growth and a narrative to sustain the business system we have created and depend on.
But here is what makes 2021 different: young people have changed for the better. People in their twenties are more mindful, conscious, smart, and caring to make a difference than ever before. I feel investors are now at a tipping point of deciding who they want to be and what matters to society at large. I’m unsure whether it’s Corona, but I can sense the game is no longer recursive — there’s something new yet to come.
Most people who decide to become investors do so because their circumstances were fortunate enough that they can, and because they see the “risk to return” ratio as being extremely favorable when compared to other career paths, or to taking on tremendous personal risks of being a founder. Being a founder is all about taking a leap of faith, sacrificing, and suffering, all in the hopes of defying the odds with success. I have hope that we can decrease this distinction between investors and entrepreneurs, to the point of bringing about mutual success. I am proud of the founders we have today, and I hope more founders become investors, shaping the landscape towards making a difference, making brave decisions, and helping the new founders with all of their enterprising passion.
These days, with an acceptable infrastructure in place, I value investors who believe in Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Diversity, and Inclusion. I align myself with those who take a risk to make the world better — not just to make money — and with those who try to understand the entrepreneurial journey, who are in the founder’s corner, hustling.
When you grow as a founder, you continually evolve as a leader, constantly receiving and soliciting feedback, in an attempt to improve every day for the sake of your team’s success and execution of your mission. I would love for more investors to optimize themselves in the same way, by reflecting and challenging themselves, and perceiving their mission as *serving* the founders, rather than the other way around. I would be honored to have this sort of opportunity — to assemble, to administer the vision of the founder, to be brave, do good, be kind, and stay humble, every day! And I would hope to be good enough to earn the role of “partner” and “friend” to the founder in the process.
I am not the person I used to be ten years ago. I tried to grow and was humbled by my work, friends, all the people I met. The last 1.5 years of world travel was part of this journey. I hope to continue this course, and I hope this is the place I can continue to learn and to push myself out of my comfort zone to become the best I can be and to help others.
2021 is not only the beginning of a new decade but as we’re coming to realize, a new era. The decisions we make will shape its course, and I feel hopeful that the younger, global, connected generations will try in earnest to make the world better for not only themselves or those they are close to, but for all. I’m excited to see how we all evolve in the coming years, and can’t wait to get back to work, to try to be the best I can be to make a difference in the lives of passionate people striving to fulfill their dreams. I can’t wait for Corona to end and to start! Only the best to all of you and your families — stay healthy! Lots of love!