Role Model Investors

Hunter Walk wrote a post recently about his VC role models. It made me think who my investor role models would be.

I’ve written about Cargo Cults and Straw Planes, or how a lack of context in decision making and action can be a killer, in the past. The importance of context over and above most other things is something I believe deeply in. As such, while it would be easy for me, having come from an accelerator background to praise Paul Graham or Dave Cohen, I simply don’t have enough personally derived context to know if they truly are valid role models.

So what then? 

I have had personal experience with Fred Wilson that makes me understand how open and humble a successful investor needs to be, so he’d be high on my list. I’ve had enough personal experience with Jon Bradford who runs TechStars London to know how hard you have to work to get new programs off the ground and make them successful, so he’d make my list.

In Australia some of my favourites are Pete Davison, who has knocked it out of the park once, and could rest on that reputation forever, but instead is constantly seeking new data to challenge or confirm his thinking. On top of that, while it only serves to reduce the impressiveness of his investment history, he is honest enough to be a vocal advocate of the huge role luck plays in black swan type liquidity events.

Of course I’m biased but I also like 25Fifteen partner Luke Carruthers‘ approach. I’ve seen first hand his commitment to his investment thesis. I suspect it’s this discipline that made him such a successful entrepreneur.

There are others.

Andrey Shirben is one of my favourite people but also a really interesting investor in the Australian context. He’s been successful as an investor, makes decisions quickly, invests a lot and aligns himself with the founders by taking common shares. Oh, and he’s a professional angel investor – i.e. this isn’t a hobby it’s his job.  All  of those are pretty unique individually in Australia but combined are unparalleled. What’s also interesting to me is that, despite investing in many startups, he always seems to be working hard with those he does invest in to help them grow their business. There’s no coat-tail riding here. If you’re an Aussie startup you could do a lot, lot worse than to have Andrey on your cap table.

Paul Bassat is awesome. An incredibly likeable and successful guy who has the only real tech VC fund in Australia in my opinion (What about Blackbird? I’d describe it as a large seed fund or a Micro VC).

I enjoy the way Niki Scevak thinks and have heard really good things about him from investees (but, oddly enough for someone who i’ve known through the community for years, have never really had any direct experience with his investment style).  I’m also a big fan of Guy King and the way he’s constantly trying to find ways to improve his dealflow while also supporting the startup community.

I’m sure I’ve missed some others but as I mentioned above, it’s hard to comment if I have no directly-attained context about investment styles.

Who would your investor role models be?


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