What gets you excited about Seed phase?
It's the most challenging part and therefore the most rewarding. When a founder has experienced a problem and describes a clear vision of how technology can solve that problem, that optimistic feeling is infectious. Being involved at Seed means I get to experience the beginning of a serendipitous journey.
But the Seed phase is also the most difficult part to crack. Founders need to reach product market fit, find a scalable path to market and convince early team members and investors to take a chance on their vision. It can be tough and tiring, but it's never boring.
You also bring an operator lens to the team, how has that experience shaped you as an investor today?
In 2012 I was part of the early team at Rackspace Australia, selling the early version of cloud computing infrastructure into Australian corporates and startups. This was around the time that AWS launched in Australia, so I had direct experience selling in a fast growing market with some tight competition on every deal.
During that time I was deep in the weeds of our local go-to-market strategy, including digital and brand marketing, product localisation, partner and channel selling, direct enterprise and SMB selling and what we called 'fanatical customer support'. Through that time I gained a great appreciation for the challenges around unlocking rapid growth and how to accelerate in a new market. Rackspace had a strong sales and support culture and took its values extremely seriously, a quality that I actively look for in a founder when I invest.
What's something you wish you could go back to tell your less experienced self?
Figure out what makes you happy and then just optimise for that. Don't compare yourself to other people. When you tell the stories of your accomplishments, the things that you will remember the most will be (1) the way you felt and (2) the people you were with. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.
Is there a type of technology that you don't use?
I have never really been a user of social media, it's not a tool that appeals to me at all. Despite being a technology investor I actually don't use a lot of technology outside of the standard tech for work. I still use my iPhone for making traditional phone calls more so than anything else.
What is your niche, your passion outside of work?
I am an avid reader and I devour fictional stories like other people binge-watch netflix. Pre-covid I would go to the library and take out 5 books every 4 weeks. Post-covid I use a Kindle but I still miss the real thing. The last book I read was Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. It is centred around an "artificial friend" to a lonely child and is narrated by the machine - Klara. I have always been more interested in fiction as a commentary on human nature than autobiographies or business books.
How do you think the world would change in 10 years?
When my baby was born last year on Christmas Eve, it occurred to me that 'Gen Alpha' may be one of the last to be conceived and born with no optional genetic editing offered to the parents as standard medical practice. The field of genetics has great implications for innovation in the preventative health market, which I believe will come to dominate the healthcare space in the next 10 years.
If you're a visionary founder who is ready to make waves, please reach out via our website.
Why we led FrankieOne's Early Seed round back in 2019, and why we continued to invest through the rest of the Seed Phase and now into the Series A.
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