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Building a business as a founder is like being alone at sea in a rowboat–there’s fog everywhere, and you’re surrounded by people standing on the shore yelling directions at you, when what you really want is for someone to get into the boat and row with you!
What has you the most excited when it comes to your work with founders?
We have this wonderful opportunity to work with founders who are creating something new, and who have a vision to change the world. I think building a business as a founder is like being alone at sea in a rowboat–there’s fog everywhere, and you’re surrounded by people standing on the shore yelling directions at you, when what you really want is for someone to get into the boat and row with you! That’s what I try to do. I bring my own experiences and the Vision Fund’s resources to our founders, so that we can build something together.
Where does your work ethic come from?
Well, like many of us, I come from a background where hard work was a constant. I grew up working in a restaurant, which is a backbreaking business; I’m actually a pretty good cook! So I have a lot of respect for people who take on the hard challenges and work hard to perfect their craft. I was fortunate to gain an education that gave me access to a much broader world. It’s taken me around the globe as an entrepreneur, investor, and operator. It turns out that hard work still pays off.
What brought you back to technology?
I never really left it. I was one of those kids who tooled around with computers growing up, but in college I really expanded my breadth of interests to literature and the liberal arts, and then I started my career in finance. But I’ve seen firsthand how transformative technology can be in our world. My college class was one of the first in which everyone was assigned an email address, and I remember the creation of Mosaic and the first browsers and home pages. So I feel privileged to have grown up in the midst of this tech revolution.
How does your background influence your partnership with founders?
My path has been unconventional, but the same is true for many of the founders we work with. I’ve had enough orthogonal shifts in my life that there is always an element of trying to hack the system without being weighed down by all the context and precedent. I see that in founders as they disrupt industries. They don’t say: “it’s always been done this way”. They focus on solving the problem at first principles, not the way it’s been done before. It’s liberating to think “Why not do it this way?”
So what advice would you give someone who’s just starting out?
I’d say, put yourself into the middle of the wave. Life is like being out on a surfboard, paddling around. When there aren’t any waves, it doesn’t matter how hard you paddle, you’re not getting up on the board. If you are where the waves are coming, you’ve got to get up. It may not be the exact wave you were looking for, but you get up on the board and you ride.