541 Ventures Thesis

541 Ventures invests as a lead in frontier tech startups, predominantly in their seed round.  As frontier tech is a fairly novel concept in many of the ecosystems we’re focused on to find extraordinary founders from, we’ve received tons of questions since our launch on July 5th about what we mean by frontier technology and what kind of companies we’re looking for to partner with.  One thing about 541 Ventures is that it’s always fully WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and I’d like to take this opportunity to answer the questions and be transparent about the spaces we’re super exited about. So without further ado, here we go!

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How Much is an Hour of Your Time Worth?

A founder recently told me that she’d won an opportunity to fly over to Europe and attend a startup event there, and asked if I’d think it’d be a good use of her time.  Quick answer: I told her “no” because there was simply no good reason for her or her company to attend that event: the fit was very weak, she didn’t have any plan for European markets and most certainly she won’t raise her seed from the European investors.  In fact, I think she also knew that it wouldn’t be a good use of her time because otherwise, knowing how she is committed to her startup and driven for success, I know she wouldn’t have asked in the first place.  I think, she just didn’t have a good idea about the value of her time that she could compare the benefit from the opportunity to.

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Manage Your Growth Velocity

At the core of a startup is a high growth. Let’s think about it: there are incredible university labs that develop state-of-the-art and first-in-class technologies but we don’t call them startups; you have your favorite bar or restaurant down the street that you visit (well, used to, at least before the Pandemic) frequently but you don’t call it a startup.  It’s not the technology, product, VC funding or anything else that qualifies startups to be startups but a high growth. Therefore, as a startup founder, you need to understand what a high growth looks like and know what to manage to achieve it.

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Time Traveler Founders

* Note: I invest in seed/pre-seed-stage frontier tech companies and this blog post is to some extent biased toward such thesis.

As a founder, you must have heard the word pain-point so many times. And I do think it’s a very important word – as sailors say, “without knowing where you’re headed there’s no favorable wind.”  The downside, however, is that I think the mighty word can be dangerously misleading.

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