Musings on Entrepreneurship

VCs picks winners but the actual work of building companies is done by entrepreneurs. VC firms have become platforms that conceive, create, and launch companies. For companies to be formed we need many things ; an innovative breakthrough idea, managerial skills to initiate, build, execute, and grow. We need capital. And to ensure that product, pricing, and execution works. All of these come with huge uncertainty and lots of friction which makes success elusive. Some firms are creating platforms which raise their own funds and invest in their own seeded ideas, in their own innovation capacity, in attracting talent – the idea being all factors are co-deployed in pursuit of a risky idea which comes from same source. Critics say things are impossible, improbable, undesirable. But entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. What an entrepreneur needs is for everything to work after she has taken the plunge. To have capital, confidence, community to get to critical mass. Entrepreneurship is not about sequential incremental. One has an obligation to jump into the unknown. In typical companies, incremental advances happen given decision making is driven by always questioning and organized skepticism. For an entrepreneur who doesn’t have all the pieces together people will be skeptical. But herein lies the challenge. Since creating is about making something that does not already exist, since innovation is not connected to current reality people tasked with investing in it don’t quite know what to do with it. This creates natural resistance and a nay sayer attitude. It is always easy to say no than say yes. The riskiest of ideas begin with basic research, which when done right becomes enabling research and is followed by applied research. To encourage entrepreneurship to flower at large scale we need to be systematic in creating conditions which allow new things to happen. This needs the exercise of leadership, patience, money. The only way new breaking ideas will see the light of day is when we are willing to embrace unreasonable propositions, accept people who have potential, but we do not judge them solely by past success or failure. For it is only when we have major breaks-throughs does incrementalism stop, and extraordinary advances and leaps happen.

It is for these and many other reasons we need to encourage and protect leaps into the unknown, nurture a special culture, create systematic ways, and build on learning that comes with it. We in the U.S. are fortunate to live in a country that attracts immigrants who constantly refresh and reconstitute our culture. We have roots and a rich history. We have world class institutions, and a can do attitude that says anything’s possible. Our innovative ecosystem has emerged from a sequence of events over the past five decades. It cannot be constructed overnight and is hard to reproduce. The entrepreneurial mindset is one that is anchored in future rather than in the present. It has few boundaries and is willing to imagine anything. And in the third decade of this century with increased knowledge, multiple paths, new tools, digital transformation, abundant capital anything is possible. The future is limitless.

Author: Sameer_Jain

Partner. Sameer Jain is founder of FinTech, the world’s first portal that seamlessly integrates traditional, illiquid and alternative investments within portfolios. Prior to this he was Chief Economist & Managing Director at AR Capital. Before that he headed Investment Content & Strategy at UBS Alternative Investments. At UBS, he served as a non-voting member of the Wealth Management Research investment committee, and as a capital allocator was responsible for all illiquid investing including fund manager selection and due diligence across the platform. Prior to UBS he headed product development & investment research at Citigroup Alternative Investments that managed over $75 billion of alternative investments across hedge funds, managed futures, private equity, credit structures, infrastructure and real estate. Here he led a team that developed proprietary models for portfolio strategy and asset allocation with alternative investments, provided investment support and research to pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, endowments as well as internal clients including Citi Private Bank. Before this he was with Cambridge Alternative Investments and SunGard (System Access) where he travelled to over 80 countries for work across Europe, Asia, Middle-East and Africa. He has written over 30 academic and practitioner articles on alternative investments with thousands of downloads at SSRN, presented at over a hundred industry conferences and has coauthored a book, Active Equity Management. Mr. Jain has multiple degrees in engineering, management, public administration and policy and is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He is a recipient of the Alfred Sloan Fellowship and subsequently was a Fellow of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for a year. He holds Series 7 and 66 securities licenses.

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