Why Becoming a Dad Makes Me Want to Invest in More Startups
Gen X VC looking to change the world for Gen Alpha
This is my daughter, Mirren.
She’s the best.
She was born 10 weeks early, on Labor Day, and like startups never are, has performed up and to the right nearly every single day that she’s been alive. We are incredibly lucky that she’s doing so well and we hope to have her home at the end of the month.
It would be easy to assume that now that I’m a parent, my deal pace of 8-10 deals per year might slow down—but I’ve realized something:
I’m more motivated than ever to lead pre-seed and seed rounds in NYC startups because I have a daughter. Never before have I had such a deeply personal stake in someone’s long term future—and it comes at a time where we face some seriously uncertain outcomes for society.
First off, let’s talk about the physical world she is going to live in. In all statistical likelihood, she will live to see the next century. Will she live in a world where the landscape is marked by floods, famine, and weather extremes worse than we’ve seen in the last couple of years, or can we stem the tide of climate change? I’m super interested in NYC companies looking to make environmental impact to improve the world of a young woman who will be around long after I’m gone.
How will Mirren work? We’ve had a serious disruption in the way we work that has been better in some ways, for some people, and worse in others. I’d like to invest in enterprise companies that make the experience of working better for all—from benefits and professional development to company culture. How can we innovate in the enterprise to make work better for my budding little professional?
Mirren’s been extremely fortunate to have excellent healthcare in the first month of her life—but I’m extremely conscious of the fact that not everyone is so fortunate. How can we fix the healthcare system to make it better, cheaper, and accessible to more people—so that she and everyone else can afford to be healthy over the long term?
What about her education? I took the tuition cost of my college when I went, compared it to what it is now, and extrapolated that growth rate out to when she’ll be of college age—and the cost is about $130,000 per year. That’s unsustainable in a world where access to content and expertise should be less expensive. How can we more cost effectively prepare intelligent, wise, curious, and ambitious humans at scale? These are solutions I want to invest in.
What about fun? What about just living life? Having experiences? Traveling? Meeting people and making friends? The ways in which my generation tried to connect people using technology has left a lot of people feeling isolated, depressed, and lonely. How can we create healthier, safer, more positive interactions between people that capture both the serendipity of being exposed to new people and ideas beyond who’s walking around in front of your house, without the toxicity?
Underlying all of these things is a layer of tech that needs to get faster, more resilient, and more secure. We’re not going to have safe self-driving cars without IOT security that prevents someone from hacking them into weapons. We’re not going to have AI that enhances our human capabilities without making our AI more human first. We’re not going to untether our businesses and our economy from archaic legal contracts and systems of permission without building next generation platforms—what many are calling Web 3.
On top of all the impact I want my investments to make in building a better future for my daughter—how I make those investments will be affected by my having a family.
I want to be the kind of investor that helps founders build more human companies—entities that get the most from their employees without burning them out. I’d like the companies that I invest in to be places that attract diverse pools of talent who want to stay for the long term and build their careers at because they feel supported. You’re going to find me bringing Mirren to Zoom calls and in person meetings and to community events, because we should do a better job normalizing the idea that people have other priorities in their life besides venture backed startup companies—and that admission doesn’t mean those companies will be any less successful.
So, if you’re building something interesting in NYC at a very early stage, please do reach out. Someone’s future depends on it!