Inside my venture ‘black box’ — thinking out loud, shaping ideas and getting feedback to make them stronger
What the f***k do venture capitalists do? There are different approaches. I have my own role and my own approach which is focused on very early stage ventures coming from the imagination of inventors and scientists.
For many, the work of a VC is a black box and cliches run deep on what we do. Taking these cliches as a playbook can be dangerous as we all work in different contexts. I hope you will take my ideas in this way — as something I do that you might learn from, but you might also disagree, or want to hack it so that it works for you.
If you are a founder, you may also find it interesting to see how I work which is much more like being a founder than you might think.
Here are some topics that I will explore.
What is the work when building a deep-tech company from scratch?
I’ve been building companies from scratch for 30 years.
Starting with nothing is intimidating. For scientists, moving from a world that rewards publishing and speaking to a world that rewards building value is a massive shift.
The mindset is different. The practical work is different. I’ll write about what I do to make this happen.
What is different about building a growth company and how research organisations and big companies typically work?
I am a big believer that ‘it takes a village’ to create a deep-tech startup and the partnership between entrepreneurs, research organisations and big companies can deliver ‘unfair advantage’. The challenge here can be that startups need different, and often counter-intuitive, approaches to how research organisations and big companies operate.
I’ll try to describe the mistakes I see organisations make and how I have seen others confront the difference and design winning strategies.
Which mind-blowing technologies are creating the industries of the future?
I built by company building muscle in the digital world and was a part of the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ of new companies that emerged in the early 2000’s through founding Australia’s first tech incubator — Pollenizer.
But now I work with scientists and inventors who blow me away every day with their ideas. I have become especially interested in technologies that work with the tiniest elements of nature like particles of light (e.g. quantum technologies) and DNA (e.g. synthetic biology).
Sometimes entrepreneurs that have come from a digital background are not aware of what is possible using other technology. Often these are technologies that can build a new generation of industries that are much more powerful and scalable without destroying the planet. I will write about that.
What is my workflow? Which tools do I use?
I deal with a huge amount of information. I start my day very early in the morning and then spend the rest of my time leaping between topics that can often be unrelated. I need to mode-switch and stay focused and never forget that the people I am working with are facing existential decisions so I can’t be lazy or distracted. I have developed a workflow and set of tools that I use to hold it all together.
I hope you will follow me on this journey. If you do, please let me know your ideas especially if you have found a better way. You can find me on Twitter at @philmorle.
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