In order to send the ‘right’ signals to founders, VCs tend to lean into the what (historical success, team and network) and how (process, founder support) of their value proposition. But I believe the most overlooked signal is found in the why ; the philosophy.
As such, here is why Stoicism was and continues to be the perfect playbook for our fund.
Only after you’ve lost everything, are you free to do anything.
This is the story of once wealthy merchant and founder of stoicism, Zeno of Cyprus. On a voyage to Greece almost 2000 years ago, Zeno’s ship along with his cargo of Tyrian purple dye, fatefully succumbed to the Mediterranean.
His ship was his life, and his life was his wealth. All dismantled by the forces well beyond his reach.
But it was by these same forces that blossomed serendipity, marooning Zeno on the shores of Athens. Here he found refuge in the dialogues of Socrates and eventually devoted his life to the practice of reason, equanimity and temperance. The way of life we today coin, Stoicism.
A Founders Philosophy.
One of the most difficult things to do, is to be a founder.
Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll come back with an entire monologue on the stresses they‘ve dealt with in the past week alone.
Now ask those same founders, whether they have a framework to manage that. Their response wont certainly be as long.
Stoicism is what we believe to be the perfect playbook for entrepreneurship. Primarily because it remedies what 99% of founders fall victim to,
The Hedonic treadmill.
Entrepreneurs are obsessed with the pursuit of unattainable satisfaction. It’s exactly what’s lead Bezos to acquire One-medical, Musk to buy out Twitter and yes, Melanie Perkins to challenge Microsoft, Google along with common sense.
It’s why their net worth is in the billions not millions.
But what Forbes doesn’t publish, is how intensely draining that mentality is. Especially given the extremely low likelihood of outsized success.
Stoicism instead encourages us to not pin satisfaction on expectation, and rather stay focused on the present. It helps build our mettle in the face of uncertainty and remind us that we alone control our emotions, actions and desires.
As Aurelius writes —
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Our Five Tenets.
As ex-entrepreneurs themselves, our founding partners saw first-hand what emotional resilience and bold optimism could do for their success. They now look for the same in founders they invest in today. Founders who exemplify the five tenets of Stoicism.
1. Turn obstacle into opportunity
2. Focus on what you can control, accept what you can’t
3. Love everything that happens
4. Practice misfortune
5. Act for the common welfare
Building the future through novel therapies, medical devices and deep engineering, take time.
We’re willing to stay the course, and that’s why we were founded.
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