Advancements in technological innovation over the last 25 years are expected to continue to accelerate in both developed and emerging markets, including innovation in fields such as well-being, health, longevity and space to name a few.
With so many groundbreaking ideas on the horizon, how can the current landscape of venture capital that greatly favors incremental growth compared to uncertain radical disruption be optimized to support the “moonshot” innovation of the future?
At the virtual Oxford Saïd Network Entrepreneurship Forum (OSNEF) in June - a two-day conference held virtually by The Oxford Saïd Business School for current students and alumni from around the world to engage in discourse around global business issues - Chōsen co-founder and Oxford MBA alumna Robin Connelley led a geographically diverse panel of entrepreneurs and industry practitioners to discuss the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and its future.
The panel analyzed the future of “traditional VC culture,” the lifestyle of entrepreneurship going forward, and the potential of business cultures where self-care, creativity, and lifestyle design are placed front and center.
Despite its rapid growth in the past decade, venture capital has limitations as an engine of innovation. For example, most “moonshot” innovations will have massive amounts of uncertainty, longer, less certain time horizons, and while at seed stage, present with lower probabilities of large successful exits. It is apparent that many investors' risk appetite is not compatible with radical disruption. As a result, many ideas are unfunded or underfunded.
Are there instruments in place that would enable VCs to take on more innovation risks?
According to Miguel Colebrook, Senior Associate at Vinson & Elkins in London, fitting into an investment profile is not necessarily a limiting factor for advancing innovation. “There is a way to allow a more radical approach, but it is not contemplated in abundance in the way VC operates today. But cooperation may be a solution here. When we invest in radical innovation alongside other VCs and corporates with disparate investment profiles, this allows more room for innovators to acquire funding as they are spreading the risk amongst several participants,” says Miguel.
Audience member Frank adds that conscientious investing is a key to maintaining the pace and quality of technological and economic growth, in order to open the world up to the level of progress that is coming down the pipeline. Speaking from both angles of having raised capital to go build companies as well as putting money to work, Frank invites us to think about how the most successful deals are structured like a “box” consisting of purpose, intention, patience and profit. “What’s interesting is that now we are in a marketplace where more capital is coming in than ever before. Instead of founders selling their companies for capital, they are out there to buy capital. When you define purpose as the strategy of your business, or your “why,” this is a ticket that will get you to sit down with investors. As for the “what” and the “how,” you can balance this by clever gated funding scenarios,” adds Frank.
Chōsen co-founder and serial entrepreneur Robin Connelley notes how innovation often comes at the untenable costs of the physical and mental health of innovators and their teams. Unfortunately, for most of our modern times, being successful equaled working harder, sleeping less and sacrificing mental and physical health for monetary rewards to get things done.
“If we are chronically stressed, this drastically affects the quality of our decisions. We need to get back into a place of calm to innovate and lead above the line. More than ever, I believe that we need a high-performance lifestyle support system for founders to ensure that all parties are making decisions from a healthy and grounded place. This is the starting point for allowing us to have vulnerable, patient, and constructive conversations to accommodate the pipeline of exciting technologies coming to market,” says Robin.
At Chōsen, we believe that supporting both innovators and investors with an optimized lifestyle is a foundational aspect of how we move forward.
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