Motivations for being a startup investor
Around mid last year, I found myself in a situation where I was working 16 hour days. On the weekdays, during the day, I would plug away at everything I was required to do at Netflix. In the evenings and on weekends, I was sourcing deals, working with portfolio founders and building relationships with other investors, as an angel investor. This was not sustainable and eventually led me to the realization that I needed to make a choice. That choice was clear - I wanted to be a startup investor but before I jumped headfirst into being one, I reflected on my motivations for being a startup investor. The note that resulted from these reflections, follows.
In the mosh pit, not the sidelines
I discovered the internet in the late 90s and was instantly transported to the superhighways that connected the world. It was empowering like nothing I’d experienced before. That moment, is still being lived daily by millions of Indians, across ages, geographies, and income/affluence levels. Unconnected users are getting lit up, and connected users are discovering new ways to transact, consume, be entertained and delighted, daily. This tide is also birthing very large businesses, from zero. There was no way I could watch this transformation from the sidelines. I needed to be a part of this, in it’s messy glory. This was my original motivation to start investing in startups.
An insatiable hunger
I have always been insatiably hungry to learn and have been unashamedly curious. In my circles, I have usually been the first to try a new app, eaten strange foods, known strange facts about esoteric subjects. One of the phrases I hear most often from my spouse is “how and why do you know that?”
Talking to founding teams feeds this hunger like few other things do. Almost always, I leave meetings with founders highly energised and bursting with optimism about possibilities. This is why I keep investing.
The first step in making a dent in the universe is to know thyself. Through two failed attempts at launching a startup, I now believe that I am best when I am working with founders and founding teams, on early problems that I have experience/insights on. I am also eager to constantly solve. This makes me far better as a gardener, than a fruit bearing plant.
These three motivations candidly and unabashedly capture why I invest in startups, and why this is something I envision doing for a long long time.