Venture Capital is a very powerful economic engine. Meaningful innovation, the type that improves our lives, reshapes enterprises, industries, even entire economies, happens only when there is a construct designed to deploy and apportion capital to innovators. Venture Capital provides an apparatus to deploy capital in both a relatively efficient and somewhat-choreographed manner. It does not provide innovation per se, but it helps innovators in their quest by allowing capital to fuel innovation.
"This contribution has a major impact on our societies as the resulting enhanced products and services, better health, quality jobs, new sectors of the economy benefit us all. The system is also designed, rightfully so, to reward investors at all levels for putting their capital to use in developing or evolving sectors of our economies."
Pilatus does not take the predominant VC path. While many are looking for companies that are “packaged for prime time”, we focus our efforts on enterprises that are in an early stage of development, technologically driven, and will likely deserve operational and commercial help along the way. We see the biggest potential for financial return in those scenarios and work hard every day to find, qualify, invest in, and guide enterprises with new technologies or business models that have the potential to make the world a better place.
When I was a child, I wanted to be a guitar player in a rock band. I was drawn to the creative freedom and the impact musicians have on people’s daily lives. Music has incredible power. A single song at the right time or place can change our mood, convey a message, or create a lifelong memory. I never ended up learning to play the guitar and I can’t sing to save my life, but I’ve found that I can still be creative in my line of work. Although I highly value my analytical engineering and business-derived skills, I think creativity and perceptiveness can be even more important in my day to day.
When I am not at my desk, in a conference room or traveling for work, you would probably find me sailing. I see many parallels between being on the water and investing, particularly regarding early-stage startups. On the ocean, we have limited knowledge of the waters ahead while needing to continuously manage fuel, water, electricity as well as crew morale, fatigue and even discourse. Making potentially life-threatening decisions under those circumstances requires conviction, purpose, vision, leadership, and patience. Similarly, the stakes are high when investing—there’s lot of risk to manage and we never have perfect information or full consensus. We sometimes find ourselves steering at night on an angry sea with a headwind, not because it is easy or comfortable, but because we have the conviction to get to our destination.
My Business Strategy professor had one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever encountered. He pushed all of us past our preconceived limits—which is to me the ultimate form of learning. He had an incredible ability to instill clarity in complex problems, to distill them to their purest form. To this day, when I’m faced with a complex problem, I use the analytical frameworks and skills he taught me.
I sometimes wonder, in our modern, fast-paced world, if we have forgotten the great virtue of patience. I generally do not believe in shortcuts. Innovation, for example, does not happen overnight but often takes a zigzag path of insight, theory, and experimentation. Patience in investing is fundamental; even the largest successful technology enterprises took years, if not decades, to reach their full potential.