I bet big. Big bets mean they are more risky. They mean that you will lose more often than you win. But when you win; you win big.
Alright, so we’re talking relatively, I’m no Zuckerberg. But I believe in my reasons for investing in the areas I do. I don’t want to make a marginal or incremental gain. I want to disrupt an industry. I want to replace an entire profession. I want to make a corporation go bust as it didn’t move quickly enough.
The safe investment would have been to buy up five London flats and price students out of another area. Safe, but not really game-changing is it?
Blockbuster had enough notice. They didn’t react. They are no longer here. There’s no profession that isn’t vulnerable. Everything can be improved upon.
There are robot armies being built as we speak by Dyson and Google. These Androids are slowly going to take out every dangerous or menial task.
Big bets are all over the place. Solar in Africa, Property in South America, or say, virtual reality gaming for $2bn. Me, I prefer mine global and mobile; specifically WebTech. Apps which change the way we do things, build communities and algorithms that measure and speed up the way we work and make us more efficient.
In the recession, you could have bought up small struggling local businesses desperate for capital and be sitting on a nice 10-20% return for the last few years. Good enough. Me - I decided to back an SF startup that was pulled off the store 4 weeks later. No win this time.
But what I was investing in excited me, I believed it could change things. It’s a risky game. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you know or what you’ve seen before, for all the right reasons, you make the wrong call.
In this column I will share my thoughts, successes and failures as both a founder and investor - and I have no doubt, for anyone that’s interested, that the balancing act required to run, fund and launch a startup will play out for all to read. Feel free to ask me, correct me or disagree with me about the topics I cover @jamesolden