Jeffery: Welcome to the Supporters Fund Ask An Investor. I’m your host, Jeffery Potvin. Let’s please welcome Meir Rabkin from Blue Vision Capital as our investor for today. Welcome, Meir. It’s a real pleasure having you join us today.
Meir: Thank you, Jeffery. Having a pleasure being here.
Jeffery: Super excited to dive into all the great things that you’ve, not only accomplished in your past, but what you’re doing today because you’ve really jumped into a new area, not only for yourself, but just in the investment world. You’re kind of taking that next leap, which I think is fantastic. Every investor should be taking new leaps every day. And you guys are moving into some really amazing areas of investing so we’re excited to dive in. So the way we like to start our show is, Meir maybe you could give us a little bit of a background from… you know all the way from your investment day, CIBC, all the way through. And then one thing about you that nobody would know.
Meir: Awesome! Alright, sounds good. I’ll start with my background and I’ll think about the one thing that nobody knows about me. There’s quite a few actually but in any event I think I got a good one. So I started off my career honestly at Investors Group, which is a financial services company. We’re in portfolio management and you know as a very driven individual and very perseverant, I built my book of practice at a very young age I started 22. And that’s kind of how I started you know getting my my experience in the investment universe in the investment world. After a few years of doing that I entered CIBC where I was more on the corporate side banking, so got some exposure there. Then decided to pursue an MBA in Spain and Madrid to… you know I guess gain strategy in my career and move my career in a more strategic direction. Came back and worked with Mckenzie Investments were over overseeing you know you know large institutional asset management company with 100 billion of assets under management. And so my career was actually going on a really good trajectory. And you know but at the same time I did feel that there’s got to be more to life I guess than than just you know making wealthy individuals wealthier, right? Just generating higher returns for investors. I was looking for a higher purpose and this is how my journey began into how I ended up at Blue Vision Capital, which is saying you know what let me let me use the networks and the skill set that I’ve developed over the course of my career but let me do that to something that I’m very passionate about but also for a cause that I’m deeply concerned about, which is the climate you know the climate crisis that we’re facing. So about three years ago, I took the decision to launch a climate tag venture capital fund and fast forward to today I’m about to close a 40 million dollar fund so it’s it’s been a hell of a journey.
Jeffery: Well, that’s amazing! One thing about you that nobody would know and now you got a good story because you’ve lined it up so I’m excited to hear this one big or two things that you’ve got.
Meir: Yeah. So one thing that most people don’t know is that I was actually supposed to become a rabbi. I was prior to doing investors group was in rabbinic school and I dropped out so I’m a rabbinic school dropout who entered the venture capital space.
Jeffery: That’s actually pretty cool. That’s a different experience that most people can say that they’ve I would say have not gone through. I’m gonna guess there’s a small majority of people that would have that type of experience. And just because I have to dive into it, what made the change? What forced you to decide to go into the financial side versus kind of moving into the rabbi space and then maybe jumping from over from there?
Meir: Honestly you know it just wasn’t a lifestyle I was excited about I’m someone who loves life and when you’re in rabbinics you’re to some degree restricted right what you can can’t do and also felt I was always under the microscope and I’m very much of a free spirit. So I think I’m too much of a free spirit to be under (inaudible). I mean I think that’s the end of it. I like everything else about it but you know thrilled with my decision. And at the end of the day like I’m still preaching, just preaching to a different choir.
Jeffery: Well I still think that that’s an amazing experience that you had. And I would love to share this great book which is called “Think Like A Monk” and it’s by Jay Shetty. And the reason why this relates so well to your story is that he, at the same age, I think it was 19 / 20, decided to go in to be a monk. And nobody could understand why he was doing this and as he spent the two / three years in this facility. When he came out, he’s now doing a million other things and he learned a lot. But the stories that he shares and how it related back to his life today and what he went through, it was pretty impressive. And you have to check out the book because it just really summarizes it. And there was an interview that we did with another gentleman and he actually was in… he was a priest for 10 years and then became a venture capitalist and went through all other things. So I think there’s a lot of experience that you can take from working with people, understanding people. So like you said, you’re still helping people. You’re utilizing that value so I think it’s actually a really impressive skill set to have because you can really relate to people and go a little bit deeper than maybe the average person would when it comes to beliefs and how you move forward in life.
Meir: Yeah. I think you’re right jeff. It’s an interesting point. But you know I think also a rule of rabbi is to inspire and and I think as a venture capitalist you also need to inspire. so I think there’s definitely (inaudible) and overlap.
Jeffery: Ah! It’s brilliant. Agreed. There’s a lot of support mechanisms that get in there and help people move forward and different ways of doing it, different ways to see it. So pretty impressive and pretty amazing. So regardless that you didn’t go all the way through, you still gained a lot of experience and I think that counts for a lot. So amazing to hear that. Now if we pull back all the way to your kind of analyst and investment side I wanted to kind of get a better learning for what the portfolio side because I think there’s a lot of value that that’s seven years of your background really drives forward to what you’re doing today. You know a lot of people that get into venture capital do come from the financial space. They understand a lot of it because they understand the numbers. They understand how the numbers work with inside the business. Now taking seven years of running a lot of portfolio even into your CIBC days, you’re really driving for big portfolio companies. You’re understanding the numbers in and out of a business. Managing a lot of finance and you know you made the comment that you don’t want you didn’t want to maybe make a lot of people a lot of money but at the same time you were good at it. And you understood how that process worked and that really trickles down to helping an early stage company get off the ground. I would say 90 of them may not have that same understanding of the financials of how a business operates. Wow the numbers need to be managed in order to get to that scaling side. So maybe step us back into when you first dove into this. And you said you were young, 22, pretty driven. What were the things that you did that kind of stood out in your career today from back then that really propelled you forward? Was it understanding the numbers? Was it understanding business? Was it operations? What were the key factors that really supported you back then and helped you today?
Meir: Yeah. You know, it’s funny but I think a lot of a lot of what I was doing back then has been a great school to prepare me for for what I’m doing right now without me necessarily realizing it. But I’ll start off even you know outside of the financial realm of you know diligence in companies and you know doing a deep dive in the financial side of things you know my first step was was really to build a book of business, right? And that was a really tough process especially coming out of schools like welcome to life you know. And it was growing, right? I really had to be out there finding new clients which is the same thing as as raising capital, right? And I was successful at it because I was persevering, because I didn’t allow the demons in my head to try to convince me otherwise. A lot of people said, “You know you’re 22 years old. You know you’re too young for this stuff. You have no experience. Who’s ever going to entrust you with their capital”. Well, the reality is it’s all about positioning, right? And you could if you know it’s true if you’re just 22 years old no one’s going to trust you with anything. But if you come up with an amazing pitch an amazing thesis, if you convey trust and confidence people will do that. And I’ve had situations where you know I had someone literally transform his entire retirement savings account to 24 year old and at that meeting I said I cannot believe this gentleman has saved up his entire life and is transferring me all his wealth to 24 year old kid. But I think that I was able to demonstrate some very big value propositions. And you know my approach to investing is something I think impressed a lot of individuals and when that occurs I think you know age and whatever other you know judgments people may have on you kind of goes goes out the window. So I think it’s really key to be able to have a very clear value proposition to be able to have a very clearly defined investment thesis and to also be able to clearly convey confidence in your ability to manage profiles.
Jeffery: Well, very well said. And I’m going to jump on a couple of those to unpack them because I think they’re brilliant on what you shared because it does really line up very strongly to what you’re doing today but what all venture capitalists are doing today. And you talked about demonstrating a value proposition and you used age obviously because it was earlier in your career so you know it’s 22 and then at 24. The stress of somebody giving you all of their financials would be probably quite stressful thinking, “Oh my god. I really need to not sleep and just work all day to make sure I don’t make this a bad mess”. What were those valuable propositions that you offered? And I’m a big fan of value you give and you get but you have to really find the value in everything that you do and so do the people that are investing in you. So what were some of those things that triggered people to believe that? And again, age doesn’t matter to me if you’re amazing at what you do. You could be 15 and rocking it out on investing. What are those things that sell people into you and to the business? Was it there’s a brand and that brand was you? What were those things that really triggered everybody to say, “I’m aligned to this story or I’m aligned to this pitch”? What were those key metrics that really drove people to want to work with you?
Meir: You know I quickly realized that it’s a you know the investment universe or landscape is very competitive, right? And you know what am I doing differently than you know the financial advisor across the street? And so it was really important for me to differentiate myself from I guess the mainstream. And you want to make sure that you’re not just offering table stakes, right? Offering investment portfolios I mean everyone’s offering investment portfolios. So what I started doing is kind of building a moat around my business practice which is around, you know… Let me show value on how to help you save on taxes. Let me help you on all sorts of other cash management tools. Let me talk to you about you know what’s the best way to buy a car. So things are outside of the direct you know just here’s your investment portfolio. And so they started to see that there was a lot of value in it. I was starting to give them a lot of strategies that they’ve never heard of before, you know. And they’ve been working with it with investment professionals for 10 / 20 years and here I show up with with all sorts of out of the box ideas and they loved it. They loved it they said, “Wow! I’ve never heard this before. I got you know this is something I really gotta try out”. And I told them, “Look, I said my job here is to give you ideas and your job is to say hey I like this one and I don’t like that one”. And it’s okay if you don’t like all of my ideas but you know this is my value proposition to you for the same cost, the same fee that you’ll you know anyone else will charge you. You’re gonna get access to all these you know unique ideas strategies that could help you on all sorts of facets of all your finances outside, above, and beyond. Just your investment performance.
Jeffery: I love it. So how important in these strategies is your execution? You’re selling. So you’re selling these ideas that you just talked about. So now you’re getting people really excited about oh I never even thought you could do that, or this seems very different. So you’ve created this mode of value which I, again the startup world, it’s exactly whatever startup needs to be thinking of. Focus, focus, focus. So you go in and you’re talking to all of these different people with a lot of money and everybody has a different solution but you’re kind of spreading that across all of them. What created that value then to get them to say I’m in? Now it’s execution. Were you showing that you’ve done this in a couple other instances that worked? Were you doing it with your yourself and then showing that you’ve got this win so people were like okay he knows who’s talking about. I’m in. What were the triggers that got people interested in that early time that you were doing this so then became cookie cutter after, which again that takes a lot of time, right? It’s creating that first three to five companies or three to five people that start to revolve and understand and see what you’re doing and then they’ve got the KPIs and the execution. How important is execution and what were the things that got them across the line to say I’m in?
Meir: Yeah. So I was very thorough in in my approach. I would always prepare a very detailed financial plan that kind of outlined you know a timeline of you know these are the KPIs we’re going to measure and these are the deliverables that we’re going to also do on on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. And so they have the next 20 years planned out and mapped out. And they’re like okay this guy obviously knows where he’s going he’s going to be the captain on my ship and I want to be on it. But of course you know you are selling a story you are selling a future you know and that’s that’s a thing that that I realized early on is that I’m not selling anything that’s tangible. You know an investment is by definition a future outcome of something that does not exist today. So being able to convey that message really clearly but also in a way where you demonstrate a very high level of expertise and and know-how with I think a very clear deliverable is my win the way I was able to win them over and my key to success.
Jeffery: And how much of that was based off of professionalism? Did you show up in a ball cap and a tank top and we’re like let’s make this happen? Was there an essence of professionalism that had to follow what you did? Or was there enough confidence and value that it didn’t really that wasn’t the objective? You didn’t need to do those things but the way you talk the way you work them through it, the diagrams, the logic, the understanding, the output, the execution, those things are very highly formatted in what you need to do as a startup but also what you did in when you’re building this.
Meir: Yeah. I know absolutely. I mean, listen, people judge you based on content but also on appearances so I’m going to date myself but this was back in the day when wearing a tie was a thing. And yeah I know obviously and tie, you know the corporate boardroom, the you know everything had to be very professional, very clean, very timely, you could never show up late, you could never you know all these things would be reasons for them not to do business with you, right? And you don’t want to give them any reasons for that so no definitely you know the level of professionalism had to be a at the max.
Jeffery: I love it. So now, you’re executing and you’re making sure that you’re professionalism, the people you’re following up, I’m assuming like a hundred times a day. You’re making people aware of what’s going on. Now, on the execution side, how are you proving back to them? Is it daily, weekly, quarterly? What are the things that you’re doing to really round this forward so that the person you’re working with isn’t calling you every day and eating up time, that they’re sitting back and paying attention just enough that it’s not being overbearing but enough to keep them interested? And maybe giving you more money because they see the execution. What are the kind of steps that you went through in order to really keep them engaged?
Meir: Yeah. So one thing I made sure of is meeting them on a quarterly basis, especially the top guys, right? I mean there’s always the the 80-20 rule and you know to your point you know once you start building a significant mass you cannot you know your time is limited but typically 20% of my clients generated 80% of my revenue. So on these I would make sure to be very close to them, meet them quarterly, keep them engaged, keep them informed, pivot when necessary, and that you know created even greater trust and confidence, which over time translated into more dollars into my practice. So it was an execution that worked well but very the the engagement part is something that I was just probably the most important.
Jeffery: And with that engagement part, I like the the breakdown, the 80-20 because that gives you a focus so that allows you to keep the people that are driving the dollars at least coming back and putting more into it. Is somewhere in the portfolio management side is there an overall KPI that you have that you report back to? And that you say that you had a 20% increase over your entire portfolio year over year so these are the kind of numbers that you push out when you go on to your next clientele or your next business. Are the things the factors that you see were valuable to your clients because you’re working with high net worth individuals? So are there things that they were looking for that you really tried to emphasize on so that they would be more willing to open up and participate in your book of business?
Meir: Yeah. No, definitely. I was trying to be careful. Again, you don’t wanna… you wanna shoot for the stars and promise to the moon but one thing I did make a promise on is the and the KPI that I was measured on is downside protection. I was very big on downside protection. That was kind of a big part of my thesis because people would typically come in you know for capital preservation purposes. No one’s in it… it’s very different than a venture world, right? But no one’s coming in and say I want a 3x I want a 10x. They’re saying here you know I’ve saved up a couple of million I want to make sure that I’m you know above the index but what I really want to make sure of is if there is a market correction, a market crash, or a meltdown. I don’t want to lose my shirt and I made sure that by putting all sorts of protective insurance structures within the portfolio embedded within so using not only a very good diversification, but also a very active rebalancing methodology, which again you don’t want to time the market but you know the second there was a five percent drop in equity you take part of the fixed income, you rebalance into the equity, and creating this automated process. Made it in sort that you take you know you buy the dip. You had you know a good 30-40% of your portfolio was not in the capital markets that was not correlated to the stock market. And so that when there were new opportunities, you were able to capitalize on it.
Jeffery: That is, again such great insight because now I’m going to dive into how you actually were balancing this out because again taking this whole program 100% this is an exact we could actually create this into a course right now for startups because everything you’re going through is exactly how a startup has to envision supporting their business, preparing their business, talking to investors, moving it through the channel, and now you get into the diversification of it. But take that back from diversification and look at securities if there’s a downward swing. Like, take Luna for instance, you’ve got a a stable coin that should have been nothing but greatness and going further and further and it’s basically lost 98% of its value. Worth peanuts today. And nobody probably thought of diversifying because it was a stable coin. So how do you get a startup to prepare for something that they’ve never experienced and they don’t know what’s going to come to be able to ensure that this environment can’t crush them as a business and force them into failing because they haven’t prepared capitally, or operationally, or financially, to be able to work their way through a type of Covid problem, or maybe even a recession. What kind of thoughts would you put into that and helping them prepare, especially today, as you start to work with climate companies, who today they might have the best hydrogen product in the world and tomorrow they’re going over back to reverting back into a different system that they feel is stronger and better and all of a sudden these companies become zero overnight. So what kind of things can you advise startups and investors to look for in supporting this these types of adverse changes that can affect their business?
Meir: Yeah. No, I mean in in the startup world, I think it’s important to a be able to pivot when necessary and to fail fast and you know the fail fast approach which is you know most entrepreneurs have failed once, twice, three times and it’s it’s only normal. But I think the ones that stand out are those that fail but they know how to pivot and change your strategy. You know there was actually one investment we’re about to do in our fund and he’s an entrepreneur that failed. I mean he was in the drones business. You know preparing electrical drones. It failed, he pivoted, now he’s in the EV electrical bikes which is a surging, surging market, especially Middle East, Africa, and many other parts of the world is replacing a new mode of transport. And he has over you know it’s a seat stage startup and he has over 10 million of signed contracts, right? Which is quite impressive for someone that’s that early stage and someone who three years ago was essentially a failure. So yes, there’s Covid. Yes, there’s challenges. Life does throw curveballs at you but you will stand out if you’re able to take a step back and say, “Okay. What can I change? What can I pivot?” And you know is it time to pull a plug and start something different or you know, but of course all these things also you know the runway and a cash flow runway has something that you have to be very careful with and mindful of, right? What is your burning rate? If you’re coming to the end of your runway, why haven’t you planned a raise earlier on? Why haven’t you prepared for it? So there’s also requires a lot of preparation and planning, pacing. You know so these are all things that, again, might be tough for some startups to you know juggle with all these elements but that’s where venture capitals do come in and assist. And that’s you know we’re probably gonna get into the moment but you know a lot of our value proposition is outside of just giving them the capitals helping them with all these other aspects to ensure their success.
Jeffery: No, I love it. Well well shared again. We’re going to kind of slide a little bit over to your your kind of your experience between Desjardin, Mckenzie, I think it was Henley & Partners just befor he got into Ash, Quebec. Now taking all of these big corporate names, you’ve built a strong corporate background, which to me brings a couple of things to mind, which is compliance, securities, big brand so you know what the top of the food chain looks like on how to operate with big money but also within that corporate governance side of things, and compliance. So now taking that experience and what you’ve gone through and everything we’ve just talked about you know some people would say, “Venture capital is great. All they care about is money”. They don’t understand where an entrepreneur comes through and how they can be what we are. They’ve never been one. And I’d kind of make an argument that you’ve got just as much experience, if not more experienced, than what a startup would because of all of the things that you’ve built from your book of business plus the corporate side. You’ve done more than what a startup’s done to get to where you are today. You’ve gone through all the steps that we just discussed. So you have a massive background on how to support work with and really dive into these startups. How much do these big brands and this commercialization help you better position an early stage company to better understand how to commercialize themselves at an early stage?
Meir: Yeah. All valid points. I would agree, Jeff. I mean I do feel like my you know my first experience was was a startup. I literally started from zero. Nothing was handed over to me and I had to build my own book of business from scratch with all you know all the growing pains that that comes with it. So you know it does make you founder friendly and now that I’ve just finished raising my my you know 40 million dollar fund, I kind of went through a similar process but you know of course in a very different well a different structure, which is a venture capital structure. But I think that having experience on both ends of the spectrum both from you know early startup to the corporate side and the banking side, you know I… to be honest I think for me where that really was helpful is being able to connect because at the end of the day, you know I’m a big believer that you know people do business with you because they connect with you. They build rapport with you. I mean they justified later on rationally but how am I able to connect with the largest institutional players? How am I able to you know convey the trust to have them cut me a check of 10, 15, 20 million dollars is precisely because I was in their shoes a few years ago. And I know their language, and I know their culture, and I know how they think, and I know what check boxes need to be marked. So having both sides to me ended up being extremely valuable. I think that was kind of you know it set me up perfectly to be able to launch a venture capital fund having that you know institutional experience but also that startup experience and having that that marriage is important. And I think the message for startups is is very similar. You know you will be pitching to family offices to institutionals to venture capitalists. You need to be able to speak a language. You need to be able to build rapport. When I’m going to call with a startup, you know I could you know within five minutes I know I probably have a good idea if this is something I’m going to pursue or not and it’s a lot of it is just in their approach how you know how professional are they, how ready are they, how are they conveying the message, the tone. I mean there’s there’s so many aspects that come into play that are so key and so important. But you know, it’s not baseball, right? You don’t have three strikes, you have one strike, so you better get it right and be very well prepared. So no, I definitely think that the you know the diversity of experiences could be very valuable both for startups and for launching venture capital funds.
Jeffery: Agreed. Well I think it makes you certainly very founder friendly and it helps quite a bit on how you’re working with the companies through your your own experiences. That business development side, that being able to work and grind and understand what it takes to sell in and again, referring back to all the comments that you just made and what we’ve talked about. It really does resonate strongly to a founder and how they have to run and organize their business over the next you know first first one to three years, if not further along. So I think that’s highly valuable and super needed for any founder to be you know building a company and having a venture capitalist that actually understands this. So I think that’s amazing. To now move into what you’re doing on the fun side, you created the fund over I guess now you’re getting ready to kick off the the final investment side. Can you just chat a little bit more about the thesis, the types of companies that you’re looking to invest in, and what you what you’re looking to as a as an outcome over the next three to five years?
Meir: Yeah. So essentially as mentioned you know career-wise things are going good and I made a decision to launch a venture capital fund. So it’s been two years in in the works. Our coming to life actually came through winning a contest in quebec that was launched by the minister of economy, which gave us you know a 32 and a half million commitment from the largest institutional players such as (inaudible) Quebec. So those who know the local ecosystem would be familiar with these names, which is a huge win and great tailwind for someone launching a fund. And so now we’re going to have a 40 million first close June 3rd. That’s our closing date so it’s been two years in the works but excited to finally be at the finish line. And what we’re going to be doing is essentially it’s going to be a seat stage fund so we’re going to be looking to deploy between you know 15 to 20 companies in our portfolio. Mostly seed but we could also do some pre-seed, a some series A as well, but our sweet spot is definitely seeds evaluations anywhere from 15 to I’d say sorry valuations from five to about 20 million on average. Our thesis is high conviction, right? So it’s not the spray and prey approach but rather we really want to do a very strong deep dive, high concentrated beds, minimum 10% ownership of a business. The reason we do that is we want to lead the rounds but we also want to sit on the boards. We want to be able to influence some of the decisions. And for us that’s you know a very big part of it, right? Not just capital, but offering that relationship capital. And in terms of verticals, so we’re looking at verticals such as mobility, right? So everything that’s EV charging, battery technology, sustainable mining, renewable energy is a second vertical with sub-verticals such as green hydrogen, carbon capture, energy storage. Then we move on to circular economy. You know what to do with all the waste that’s being created and how to avoid it. And it’s amazing to see how much innovation is in that space and lastly AgTech, right? So how do you work think about sustainable farming, vertical farming using less chemical products, less fertilizers and there’s a tremendous amount of AI that is applied to farming today to create a much more sustainable future. So that’s what we’re looking for but these are the main verticals. We have quite a few sub-verticals you know such as smart city, smart grid. At the end of the day, as long as we could have a meaningful and measurable impact on the climate, as long as we could demonstrate that you got our you got our attention, right? And so that’s you know the onset of the portfolio construction. Happy to elaborate further if need be or you might have some follow-up questions on that.
Jeffery: No, that’s good. Thank you. Perfect. And maybe the last kind of question to on the fun side maybe you can dive in a little bit about how that structure is going to work. You talked about a board seat. You talked about how you want to work with the companies. Is there a set policy in that 15 to 20 companies you’re investing in? Is that per year? Is that over a four-year stretch? And then again, are you carrying them to series A or B and how much do you see deploying in that in those companies? Maybe a little bit more on that would be helpful too.
Meir: Yeah. So as I said, average ownership 10 to 20% in seed. Now we will keep 60% of our capital and reserves for follow-on investments. And you know it’s interesting when you look at seed stage start a seat stage venture capital funds those that have the best track record and the best performance are those that use exactly that approach, which is you know piling in as much money on the follow-ons because there’s always a bit of informational symmetry when you’re investing in a startup. A it’s extremely early stage. Typically, it’s pre-money. You’re basing yourself a lot on you know the team and some other metrics but you know some traction but it is very very like right. And all often people say it’s more in art than a science but that’s where the beauty becomes when they’re ready to erase their follow on their series A. You know you followed that that entrepreneur for the past 12 to 18 months, you know the business, you know the competitive landscape, you understand the technology, and so now in a position to double down and inject heavy capital. And so definitely on you know let’s say if we invest in 15 companies if there’s you know four to five that we’re really really excited about. We not only will be leading the series A but we’ll be doubling downing and injecting heavy capital not just our parada but you know to get significant ownership of the business. On those that were you know not sure but you know think it’s still interesting we’ll keep our parata you know and then those that we think are just you know not going anywhere well we’ll obviously not reinvest. That being said, we do have a strategy on our bottom quartile companies you know what we also find is that there’s always a focus on the top quartile guys, right? Let’s focus on winners or unicorns, sure. But imagine if you had a strategy in place for your write-offs. What if you could give them a second life? What if with you going exploring through your network of entrepreneurs that you have in your database? You have this company in your portfolio that’s a total write-off. It’s going to zero. But rather than letting it drift, you find them in a choir. You find them someone that could buy them out at least you could potentially get your capital back, new management, and then reboost them. And we’ve seen this done successfully where one company that was a total write-off they did exactly that. They found them in a choir. And lo and behold, they were listed the IPO and the stockholm stock market a few years later. So I think it’s important to have a strategy on how to invest but also very important exit strategy, particularly on the last quartile and that ends up you know it’s a parallel, right? But it ends up increasing the multiple of your fund by at least one 1x.
Jeffery: Awesome. Well, that’s a great strategy and love to hear that you’re trying to support your portfolio all the way across all areas of investment so that’s great to hear. We’re going to kind of now shift a little bit into more of a use case and if maybe you can share. You talked a little bit about a company before that you worked with. Maybe you can share what it takes to be an entrepreneur and kind of that moment where she or he didn’t think we’re gonna make it, or whatever that kind of heartfelt story is that really kind of helps people really understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Maybe you can share a use case or a story that maybe you’re a part of or one that you’ve experienced.
Meir: Yeah. I mean, listen. I think to be a successful entrepreneur you know it’s as an investor right you’re you’re investing in the team and we heard that on and on again but I think a good analogy is you know very simply you’re a pilot, right? You’re a captain of a ship so you know there could be many different types of captains but what I want to see is a captain that could weather a very severe storm because you know crossing the river when it’s nice and sunny, anyone can do that, doesn’t take a lot of skill set. So I want to be able to see that determination, that perseverance, that ability to pivot, that ability to not give up because times will be hard. There will be challenges. You know there will be curveball thrown at you. And I need to be able to assess to see how well they’re able to handle that and manage that. It’s very important to have a very long term vision but more importantly you know it’s extremely important to inspire your team and make sure that everybody’s aligned to make it to the finish line. And I think that’s probably the most important ingredient in an entrepreneur and if I’m able to see that, if I’m able to see someone who has that you know that hustle, I know that you know whatever’s going to happen, I, listen… I don’t know what the markets you know look at this year like without just the last three years. So unpredictable, so many curveballs, (inaudible) Covid, you know a war between you know a war in Ukraine, energy crisis, potential famines, plus a climate crisis adding on to all that stuff. So there will be a lot of instability in the future and the question is you know can you, you know could be a captain the ship and get us to the other side despite the storm. So that’s something that things is really important that we really look for in entrepreneurs.
Jeffery: I love it. You really do have to have a strong person that has a lot of all of the keywords that you want to put up on a wall that they can be able to balance through and be able to pivot change and grow within the business but also lean on the people that are supporting them, not just on the team the board, everywhere along the lines that they always feel the doors open that they can reach out. And this allows everybody to kind of share that two-way communication. So I do agree it’s very crucial to supporting that your investment in the people and their health and everything else as they move their business forward. We’re going to now kind of pivot into the rapid fire questions. Are you ready for the rapid fire?
Meir: Ready. Excited.
Jeffery: Alright. I love it. Alright. You’re gonna pick one or the other, coming in as an investor here’s the business questions. Founder or co-founder, which would you choose?
Jeffery: Unicorn, or a four-year 10x exit?
Jeffery: Tech, or CPG?
Jeffery: NFT, or web 3.0?
Meir: Web 3.0.
Jeffery: AI, or blockchain?
Jeffery: First time founder, or a second / third time founder?
Meir: Second/ third.
Jeffery: First money in, or series A?
Meir: Series A.
Jeffery: Angel, or VC?
Jeffery: Board seat, or observer?
Meir: Board seat.
Jeffery: Safe, or convertible note?
Meir: Convertible note.
Jeffery: Lead, or follow?
Jeffery: Equity, or interest payments?
Jeffery: Favorite part of investing?
Meir: The exits.
Jeffery: Number of companies invested per year?
Meir: we’re going to invest between four to five per year.
Jeffery: Any preferred terms?
Meir: Preferred shares when possible.
Jeffery: You mentioned these before but we’ll reiterate them again. Verticals of focus?
Meir: Verticals of focus will be mobility, renewable energy, specular economy, and AgTech. I could also add we will have a leniency or focus on the software, the AI, the ML that’s applied to these verticals so software could be like a fifth vertical if you were to consider that a vertical.
Jeffery: 100%. Two qualities of startup needs in order to stand out to you?
Meir: Resiliency and innovation.
Jeffery: Love it. Okay, now personal questions. Book, or movie?
Jeffery: Superman, or Batman?
Jeffery: Restaurant, or picnic?
Jeffery: Five minutes with Bezos, or Oprah?
Jeffery: Mountain, or beach?
Jeffery: Bike, or run?
Jeffery: Big mac, or chicken McNuggets?
Meir: Chicken McNuggets.
Jeffery: A trophy, or money?
Jeffery: Beer, or wine?
Jeffery: Camera, or mobile phone?
Jeffery: King, or rich?
Jeffery: Concert, or amusement park?
Jeffery: Fortune cookie, or birthday cake?
Meir: Birthday cake.
Jeffery: TED Talk, or a book reading?
Meir: TED talk.
Jeffery: Most famous person that pops in your mind?
Meir: Most famous person that pops through my mind… Elon musk.
Jeffery: Favorite movie, and what character would you play?
Meir: Goodfellas and yeah (laughs) and I can’t remember his name but I’ll pay them. I’d play the main actor. He was brilliant.
Jeffery: I like it. Goodfellas is awesome. Great movie. I think I watched it like six months ago or something but yeah I had to go back and watch this incredible, well done.
Meir: Never gets old.
Jeffery: And there’s a lot of there’s a handful of great actors in it so I think you could pick any one of them but yeah. Good choice. Favorite book?
Meir: Favorite book, hmm… so favorite biography that I read was Steve Jobs biography. Felt very very inspired about on that so yeah. Let’s leave it at that. Steve Jobs biography.
Jeffery: I haven’t read that one yet but I got to work on that one. I’ve been reading a lot of biographies lately and if you haven’t checked it out, you do have to check out. Will Smith. I read that before the slap and it really will tell you why he did the slap because there’s a lot of insights in the book that share about all of that so it’s a good one. Chris Bosh. Phenomenal book as well and it’s like an entrepreneur book. Literally what he did is like being an entrepreneur. All the things you talk about by creating that space and creating that unique value, it’s exactly how he made his way through as a sports person so it’s really cool on how he related to being an entrepreneur. And there’s many more but those would be two that kind of really stand out. Okay. First brand that pops in your mind?
Jeffery: Nice! Alright. Favorite sports team?
Meir: Montreal Canadiens. I’m biased though.
Jeffery: It’s true. They are next door. But that’s still they’re good and they’re way better than Toronto.
Meir: That is correct. That is correct.
Jeffery: What is the favorite app you’re using on your mobile today?
Meir: Oh, Strava.
Jeffery: Strava? Don’t know that one.
Jeffery: Alright. See as you see this is all data. I’m just learning. Now I’m going to look up Strava and see what what this product does but very cool. Alright. Last two questions. What is the meaning of success to you? The the meaning of success is monetary but in addition to that is also the feeling of being purposeful, the feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of being content. I think it’s a lot more qualitative than quantitative and I think that you know if you’re learning something new every day you’re a successful person.
Jeffery: I like that. Learning something every day. Last question. What is your superpower?
Meir: My super power is I think the ability to convey trust. I feel like people just really trust me and I mean it’s great, especially in the venture capital world but I have that way of just you know conveying it. I don’t know how I do it but it’s there.
Jeffery: I love it. Well I think the trust probably comes with your ability to work with people and understand the financial side and help connect people to aspirations and goals and really help people feel comfortable because they’re working with somebody that has a strong understanding and experience. And you’ve been there from a young age so I think there’s a lot of great value. And I think your your mannerisms carry you very well and put people at ease. So very great strengths and I will say, Meir, it’s been a true pleasure getting the opportunity to chat with you today, and get to learn a lot more about yourself, and how well you have been a startup pretty much your whole life, and it’s exciting to see the next venture that you’re going to be jumping into. We’re excited to stay in touch and keep watching all the great things and the impact you’re going to make in the climate world. But thank you again for all your time. And the way we like to end our show is we like to give you the last word. Anything that you want to share to the investor community or to startups? I turn it over to you but again, thank you very much for all your time.
Meir: Yeah. Thanks, Jeff. No, listen. It’s been a great hour. I really enjoyed your questions and the fire fire questions as well. You know I guess a message to to the startups who are trying to raise capital out there I think that there’s you know often a real big focus on the innovative aspect on how to scale. And you know most entrepreneurs that I speak with are geniuses in their own right. You know they’re very very intelligent, driven individuals. And kudos to them for you know taking that leap of faith and trying to build something and I have a lot of respect for that. But I think you know sometimes if there is one one piece of advice I could give is to to make sure that you also inspire when you convey a message to investors. That you connect, that you build rapport, and you don’t rely on the numbers and the data solely because doing that alone, in my opinion, will not give you to get you over the hump. You know there’s thousands of startups out there. You know you want to stand out and how do you stand out will you build that connection. So I find that there’s maybe less of a focus on that typically and more of a focus on how great we are and how great our product is and how we can you know we’re so breakthrough and we’re so innovative and we’re going to scale and our you know financial projections are going to reach you know 500 million in the next three years. All great stuff but don’t forget building that raport. So best of luck. It’s been a pleasure, Jeff and yeah can’t wait to get started.
Jeffery: I love it. Build connections, build rapport. I love it. It’s a great way and some a lot of great advice today. Thank you very much again, Meir. Have a fantastic day and thanks for joining us.
Meir: Thank you. Bye.
Jeffery: Okay. There was so much great stuff there and kind of went in a great direction too on you know background experience on really what it takes to build your own book of business and how that relates so strongly to the early stage founder side of things from you know creating great strategies, building a remote around yourself, what makes you different, what’s that differentiator, demonstrating value propositions on how you create value, very detailed plan, professionalism, 80-20, you know focus on your your bigger clients and making sure you’re delivering for them, execution is key all the time. You know I think at the onset of everything you shared was really fits nicely into that startup headspace which is you know you’re building customers, or proving your problem your solution, and now you’re kind of working on those customers and you really want to focus on the ones that are going to grow and become not just beach heads but multiple areas that you can grow into and build on. So I think that’s all super valuable information. And I love that even when he was talking to startups, build relations, build community connections, really about building connections with the investors. So lots of great stuff. Super glad that we got the opportunity to dive in again. Thank you very much for all of that, Meir. And thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this conversation, please feel free to share with your friends or subscribe to our youtube channel. Follow us on spotify, apple podcast, and/or stitcher. Your support and comments are truly appreciated. You can also check us out at supportersfund.com or for startup events visit openpeoplenetwork.com. Thank you and have a fantastic day.