Lessons 1 year into Venture Capital: The Change’s first birthday!

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One year in it feels pretty great! Was I certain I would get here? I said I was. Did I expect it to look like this? Absolutely not! Was it going to look something like this? Absolutely!

I fear the lessons after a year can always look generic, it’s all “it takes longer than you think!” “If I’d known then what I know now.” Easy to make comments yet impossible suppositions to make any tangible use of as a person following the process!

This is deep and meaningful again.

Many lessons ahead, but what a great and tangibly transformational year.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson One: Health and Happiness

Of all my journeys this has felt the most well balanced. It’s a voyage into the unknown with unknown outcomes and yet this time, I allow myself to be continuously reminded of the value of friendship and family.

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My little Imogen. A Crazy One 🙂

My Grandad having a laugh at 87. It was a good year before he took ill.

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Asset Nexus was the glue that brought Gavan Wall & myself together. We completed Springboard many thanks to Paul Campbell, John Knapton and Dominique Cummins. Every minute of the journey has been an adventure. The Ups and downs have shaped us forever.

While still punching in the hours I have probably confided and exposed more on my journey this time than on any previous journey I have ever had.

I lost my grandad and unlike the old me I shared it. It felt wholesome and as a result, I feel even my long-suffering wife seems quite proud of me. Pride comes before a fall, and yet it’s also extremely difficult to re-build quickly after a fall. It’s only through sharing some of this journey that my wife, my children, my wider family circle ever got a clue what I do. It gives me a sense of inner confidence needed to transverse the unknowns without fear of disaster.

COVID-19 (yes it had to be mentioned) has unleashed horror but at the same time a brand-new world of opportunity, destroying long-held beliefs in the wider population. It’s hard for someone like me not to get immersed completely in the landgrab of discovery and social change that is upon us. It’s clearer now to me that I need a team even in the deployment of capital, that team includes my family, my colleagues, and my wider network.

I am clear that not only the administration of capital should engage others but also that through engaging my network I end up with a fuller picture of what comes next.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson two: Getting a deal over the line feels as good as it ever did!

So it’s been extremely difficult to get alignment before investment particularly given the time pressures of a term sheet. The ups and downs of agreement even among like-minded people is a struggle, strain and tangible test on any new relationship.

Founders who in some cases have had a decade or more of trial and tribulation care. The people we invest in have and are giving their lives to greatness. They are passionate, often quirky and definitely gifted people who with the right guidance just might change the world.

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I 100% recognise that if the business is worth investing in the creation of a data room, a transformation agreement and a term sheet/ investment agreement will never be easy.

It has taken a year to get there. What a journey to our first investment which is now imminent! I can’t wait for the next hit and our first handover to a next round VC what an exhilaration that will be.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson three: Always be the gadfly – Be yourself and question

Often in discussion I am told that a point I dwell on isn’t important. That said despite rigorous debate I continue to explore a point or possibility. It’s always with great risk that I dwell. I can lose someone’s train of thought, or can experience a disengagement without realising it. That said sometimes it’s only with time and focus that ideas turn into real fruit and hence despite some learnings along the way I realise that I have to continue to be myself and to challenge the ideas, executions and inspirations of others. It’s always also important to stop and not go too far so as to prevent simply being a hassle.

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What a delicate art, one no doubt we all face as a challenge.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson four: Taking Time Is as Important as using intellect & Intuition

When making a deal, in times of stress, there is no rush. Rush simply exacerbates and inflames situations of conflict.

It’s often valuable to take the day to reflect on terms and get back with a new mind than simply to argue a point to death.

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Time is our friend when we use it effectively and I have learned to stop and ponder during this journey just as much as I have learned to continue to balance that considerate attitude with rapid and responsive action.

The power of the mind to stop think and reflect is a gift I hope I have begun to gain over this exceptionally transformational journey.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson five: The FCA process teaches you that you truly can’t “change the weather”

We hear of King Canute today and we believe he thought he could command the sea. The truth is that Henry Huntingdon held him up as an exemplar of humility.

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He in fact aimed through the fabled act of setting his thrown to the sea to show that his power was limited by the wider influence of god.

You get the chance to learn that through your everyday life. If you haven’t learnt it yet I advise anyone with ambition, to discover how much is beyond their control, to apply to become FCA registered as a new to market venture capital firm!

Process, purpose and execution do not matter in their own right, rather opinion and external critique from the body matters.

I could not count the number of times we supposed to understand the will of the FCA, only to discover we were wrong. I do not say that to criticise the FCA, but to help understand better a process we must trust.

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Despite being wrong about understanding the judgement process we are none the less exceptionally proud to have met the criteria of the FCA facilitating our journey to progress towards the next big milestone. We can move work towards collecting the team and the supporters that will take us to the £500m under management that our EUVECA compliance allows.

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It’s only the beginning now our structures must become tangible reflections of our intentions, no doubt growing to a new level as time goes by.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson six: Getting in touch with Emotion is where purpose comes from for The Change Makers

I’ve always been very different to other people. That point doesn’t warrant deeper analysis. I think those who meet me realise that. That said where do I fit in the world. How I can form long term relationships with others as my purpose has never been about personal enrichment, like some others, but about legacy. How I began to set out to understand and accept their Weltanschauung was a real journey.

I realise my own focus is on a life less ordinary, focused on change and purposeful for wider benefit and development. I’m the “weird one,” of course many of the population just want to seize the day, the biggest house, the best lifestyle and enjoy it for what it is. How to communicate with others has been a journey, and I have realised to surround myself with those who at least have some shared view on why they are here and for what good, rather than those focused purely on stockpiling wealth.

I felt the need to ask the question during this journey who were those people who sought change. Who were The Changemakers? Who were those that felt compelled to make a difference? How would I find them? How would I identify them when they came along? How would I inspire them to be part of a quest for a life of Changemaking as hard as that journey would be…

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I needed to ask myself the core reason behind why others would not get purpose from watching a butterfly, or a drop of water? Why they perhaps could not bask and enjoy the beauty of this world? Why I was born to ponder the very nature of reality and the self while others perhaps got a blockage finding that quest irrelevant and self-indulgent? I then needed to reassess. There are Changemakers out there. Our founders, Our supporters, those outside our reach who are making a difference.

Perhaps others did not have the benefit of a clear and direct vision and mission statement as The Change but they none the less were by definition part of what The Change itself stands for.

I saw how our brand, our mission and what we have created already all matter as the numb of a brand new world view.

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I am not too proud to say I have had feelings of worthlessness and irrelevance at times in my life. It is reinforced by a non-extraordinary body and a peculiar mind, a mind where the wiring is probably not wired the right way, breeding a view point and purpose that is different. It’s only through work, focus and application that I can fulfil my purpose. But no matter how strong that purpose I must be content that my efforts may help individuals but may still be irrelevant to the wider cosmos.

People that inspire me often create themselves rather than find themselves through a life of turmoil. Some never realise greatness during their lifetimes and are only considered so on reflection post existence.

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If ever I create something that matters, I realise that it will be through adding high value to the collaborations I am often compelled to explore and understand. Such a journey is not one of the discoverer, academic, or industrialist but I hope the philosopher king. Bringing purpose and meaning to that which may otherwise have none.

It was through collaboration with Dawid Glaza with input from Gavan Wall that I was able to express a burning desire to express myself in how emotional and cause driven The Change is for myself, why I do it, what we aim to leave behind and how big this vision really is.

My feeling of irrelevance gets quelled and submerged in inspiration and drive to succeed every time I watch it…

Sometimes we need such inspiration. The journey has not been easy.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson seven: Perception mattered it always has

I’ve always noticed how some people spoke more eloquently than I did. I always noticed how a message from one person was more powerful from one person than from the next. I always noticed how some people connected and others didn’t. I always knew it mattered, BUT I didn’t acknowledge it outwardly and through my actions I probably evidenced that it didn’t matter to me.

It’s during this journey that I wanted to begin to improve my expression. Formerly I was happy to write in riddles, with non-explicate purpose. Somehow I felt someone or something would understand me if they needed too.

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I have seen the need to improve and focus on refinement and articulation. Anyone who has seen me speak will know I have a long way to go on this journey. I have spent so little time on the polish. It’s the rough and ready yet raw passion that flows out to the world.

I realise one year into my journey as a venture firm founder that is no longer enough…

Public relations, engagement and getting a message across aren’t just about planning they are about emotion, consistent delivery and poise also.

I can’t change my face, my height, my unusual intellect, my lack of substantial wealth or my lack of tangible empathy for those who settle for a world where their biggest impact is their choice of champagne, not the impact they make and I wouldn’t want to… I’m going to leverage all of the above. The power of my message is in me and all the more potent because of my limitations.

Automation of the wrong things is something I’ll often advise others about coming to me for advice on technology, the same should be said about my messaging, public speaking and other communication.

Practice and learning are required, whether that’s inspiration and direction from my friend Sarbjit Bakshi or inspiration to contribute to the debate regularly by Gavan Wall I have become more aware that it’s not always what you say but how you say it that matters.

Still working on it, with focus I will get better. No question…

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson eight: Be prepared for purpose and find change in yourself

So many go into scenarios and learn nothing saving the reinforcement of an EGO. They believe they have done the right thing because they get what they wanted from the situation. Countless others may have lost out and most certainly it was not a win-win scenario for all.

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For me I have reflected and while I have for a long time wanted to achieve great things my way of approaching problems was often so purist that I only changed them for myself.

That’s changed on this journey. It’s required purposeful effort to allow others an effective input and one that enables others to not just say that The Change is the outcome of their efforts, but for that to be real and for them to also believe it.

Coming to know and shape myself has been a powerful driver for success.

Going through each element and tweaking it with the benefit of experience has been a cause of reflection. Exploring and adapting decision strategies, approaches to knowledge transfer, and the wisdom gifted by mentors and coaches has enabled me to grow and develop within a controlled and planned way, while not perfect and with a way to go I feel better adapted to the task at hand than I was when this journey began.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson nine: Use every weapon in your arsenal to survive

Starting a venture capital firm shortly after a personal financial failure was no mean feat. Many would wonder how? Why would you be the one to do this? What experience do you have of investment management?

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For me I asked myself what do I bring to the table?

My answer was innovation. This sustained The Change to an equilibrium on income with limited effort and also provided a transformative process for the radical and disruptive companies we will invest in, in our first fund.

I am grateful for being gifted with the opportunity to explore innovative concepts and to be part of the enablement of some great ideas over the years of my career, without that time I would not have been shaped to capture this very special moment.

Lucky for me technology and innovation are second nature and have a wide span of profitable applications. I have been proud to assist some amazing companies on their journey so as to unlock real value that was left unrealised on the bottom line by others.

If I’m right innovation transformed what was a broken idea and got us to our first £million in value this year.

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Without that push to success we would be fighting an uphill battle and would not have reached the starting line.

If your company needs help on dealing with the future, whether because of COVID-19 or otherwise reach out to us at The Change and we will aim to assist you on unlocking your dreams, through the application of our own.

Whether new co, established corporate, or family business no matter, we have approaches and mechanisms for all.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson ten: It’s time for the status quo to fall especially in parochial markets

For me venture capital around small and new businesses has been broken. If any industry had 8 out of 10 efforts fail we would say it was a poor result. If a business created -12% of a return (the return from startups vs capital in seed stage across the industry) we would expect that needed fixed.

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Many efforts exist to systematise the success of start-ups and no doubt many of those who went before have discovered great people and guided a number of them to success.

There is work to do. So many still fail and the lessons are not taken in. So many don’t get the right help and guidance to advance them on their journey and as a result it all falls down.

Some get it too easy, some too hard… Whichever it is finding the optimum for the individual team and company is essential to find and hone the right concept, at the right time, with the right people.

It’s time for The Change…

Lesson eleven: Have something to prove! I am fired up and ready to go!

Some would feel after a year it was a time to take stock and rest on laurels. Sure we must mark and be aware of our successes including having hit over £1m in value in our first year at The Change despite being held back by COVID-19 and the need for FCA registration. BUT it’s only the beginning!

This was a time to lay foundations and now it’s time to work towards the next (£9.999bn) over the next 9 years!

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Not only am I inspired by the vision but I am also driven forward by an awareness of what limited time we have on this world. I am aware my time is short and given the limits of impact of my life to date I have so much more to do and deliver for the world, my colleagues, my investors and for my children.

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Some doubt me, some challenge my focus on vision over financial outcomes however none will deny the fact that despite getting limited reward for my past I have already made some major contributions to many lives and I plan to make a contribution to many more.

At 37 I no longer have youth on my side the younger me was quicker to act and more determined to succeed with 100 hour weeks not the struggle then they are now. This said the vision and work ethic inside me gives me the zeal to succeed in a way that the 18 year old version of myself never did. This time I will be grateful for the opportunity, but focus a little more on creating for my own family and me.

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Me today at 37: Rounded Experienced Fired up and ready to go.

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Me at 30… : Creating new me phase

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Me 24: Married and Software Phase

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Me 18: Animal Rights, Environment and Activism Phase

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Me at 15: Everything Animal, & Sports Phase

There is fire in my belly and even if no one knows or has reason to know my name, I along with others are part of the rushing current that changes the very nature of reality of this world. We will Be The Change, I am Spartacus those that challenged the power of change in the past, better watch out the future is coming. When it comes we will have an army of followers who realise what a wasted journey it is to lead a life without a wider purpose. Without Change…

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I have been knocked down, I will never not get up again until my last breath. Maybe I have my confidence back through writing this down!

It’s time for The Change…


I’m firing on all cylinders, I have my family and a great team with me, many who inspire me have joined my journey and we are on this leg of life’s journey together. It’s time for The Change! We have in the face of challenge comfortably achieved our first million of value in our first year. Hard work indeed but someone has to do it if this world of ours is to truly change for the better!

I think our video gets across the message as to who we want to work with on our journey as clearly as I ever could…

An unstoppable, immeasurable change is coming, It’s time for The Change