My Philosophy

How I approach startup investing

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Vision and Sector Focus

My vision is centered around identifying key areas of underserved regions and targeting sectors in those regions that the region excels at and the world has a need for. I am starting in the Midwest, where they excel in biotech (particularly around rural and local health), agritech, aerospace and engineering. These regions are poised to be at the leading edge of our biggest challenges in healthcare, food and agriculture technology, and the climate technology.

I would focus my fund as generalist fund but inclined towards areas of strong internal expertise, such as biotech and neurology. I aim for my first fund to be an early stage fund starting pre-seed into Series A, with plans to broaden in future funds.

Investment Approach

Preferred investments would range from $100k to $5m, targeting a portfolio of 10-25 companies per fund. I would aim to also reserve around 20% of a fund for follow-on investments. The overall approach would prioritize revolution rather than evolution. Innovative products with impactful reach that create a new systems and approaches are key to bettering the world and achieving returns, as opposed to companies that simply move the needle. Another key to our approach is to identify and support these companies 6 to 12 months before others catch on, support them while they are in dorm rooms and partner with them until they reach a boardroom.

What I Don’t Like

Downside protection: Why would I invest in a company that I do not 100% believe will change the world? Why should only the founders and employees share the risk?

Rules and metrics: Specific numbers, rules, and ratios should only be used to confirm a good thing when I see it. If these were the driving forces behind my investment, I would have created a hedge fund or prop trading company.

Overreaching boards: The board of directors’ job is to oversee, advise, and ultimately help the company make the right decision. We do not need 15 people to do that, and we certainly do not need 15 people micromanaging a company. The board members (while accomplished) are rarely better experts than founders and their teams.

Geographical Strategy

I would like to be based in the Midwest, particularly around innovation hubs that have a strong university presence. Starting in Minneapolis with access to the University of Minnesota system, Mayo Clinic, and innovation hubs and then establishing presence in communities like Grand Forks and Fargo, Ann Arbor, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Chicago. This aims to give access to creativity and entrepreneurship from city environments while bridging the innovation gap between rural and urban areas by encouraging university startups.

Role and Relationship

I reject the traditional VC oversight model in favor of a partnership approach. For most investments, I would aim for board observer seats, but above all, to focus on building close, supportive relationships with founders. Guiding rather than controlling is the key to leverage their expertise fully, after all, VCs are rarely better experts than founders, so we should let the experts lead the way.

One of the things I want to emphasize is having a connection with a founding team. I want to know the first 12 employees (including the founders) personally. I want to know that the team will speak up and even speak out if they see something wrong or think something will work better.

Impact and Innovation

My decisions are guided by the impact and product as opposed to simply hitting KPIs and growth targets. Simply chasing growth has led to a dilutive power of VC in their ability to impact the world and has led to the “private equitization” of VC. I want to focus on companies that are delivering groundbreaking products and processes to the world and supporting great founders and marginalized groups. While ESG considerations are not my primary focus, I am drawn to ventures with the potential for meaningful environmental and social contributions.

One of the things I want to emphasize is having a connection with a founding team. I want to know the first 12 employees (including the founders) personally. I want to know that the team will speak up and even speak out if they see something wrong or think something will work better.

Competitive Advantage

My extensive network, spanning top universities and the venture capital landscape across the Midwest and East Coast, provides unmatched resources and opportunities for synergy among our portfolio companies. I am to create a network across my portfolio that allows each portfolio company to act as a resource for the other. My philosophy focuses on a partnership-based approach which doesn’t dictate control but fosters a shared interest between the VC, founders, and the company.

One of the things I want to emphasize is having a connection with a founding team. I want to know the first 12 employees (including the founders) personally. I want to know that the team will speak up and even speak out if they see something wrong or think something will work better.

Bottom-up Investing

Many VCs have historically looked at a basket a companies and picked the one they think will win, I want to look at what people need and pick companies that deliver that in the most innovative game-changing ways possible.

What Do you think?

What did I hit? What did I miss?