Entrepreneur Turned Angel Investor

with Josh Felser

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Extracurriculars make for richer investing

Josh Felser

Co-Founder of Spinner, Grouper & Freestyle Capital

Lessons Learned

Having extracurriculars allows you to continue to challenge the world & engage, not just listen.

You don’t stop being an entrepreneur because you’re investing: entrepreneurship is a lifelong club.

Investors should do something entrepreneurial so they can stay empathetic with their portfolio.


Lesson:Entrepreneur Turned Angel Investor with Josh Felser

Step #10 Prescient: Extracurriculars make for richer investing

It's easy to fall into the trap of just listening. I think what we do, at least around here at Freestyle, is we really try and pretend we're starting this company with you. I think all these activities outside of just listening reminds us to just be conscious of engaging and not just listening.

So, when I think about how extracurricular activities affect me as an investor, I think about two things that it does for me. I think there's one that just having a richer life makes you a more aware person. It breaks you out of your own bubble of investing and pitch meetings. So, I think it exposes you to more.

But I also think that it helps you to continue to challenge the world. TED's not a fantastic example. It's something I do. But you're kind of there and you do listen a lot. There's less interactivity. So, I tend to gravitate to things that allow me to exercise that desire to engage and not just listen.

So, whether it's going on a run and thinking, not always think. Sometimes my mind is blank. Other times, my best ideas might come from running. Meditation, while it's not a fountain of ideas, it's supposed to be thinking about nothing. But ideas run through my head and then I kick them out until I'm done meditating. I think all these things are different ways that your mind remembers to do more than just listen.

Catalyst is a later-stage fund. So, it does expose me to different companies at different stages. So, it's been interesting to kind of participate in a different style of investing. So, we don't do growth investing in the early stage world. But there, they do. I've learned about how to invest later in the cycle.

As our companies grow up, and they're mostly very young still, and they kind of start generating real revenue and real income, I have a little more to offer. I certainly didn't get that from my own companies because I think the most that any of the companies that I co-founded, the most we ever made in revenue before we got acquired was like 1 million bucks.

So, I started a nonprofit called #Climate out of a passion to kind of make a difference and really leverage all the skills and expertise that our world has that nonprofits kind of suffer through, so technology, social media.

What it's taught me, and this was a surprise to me, is that it's a startup. It really is a startup. I have developers, designers and I hired an outside firm to be kind of helpful, to help us think about visual design and I've had to raise money and I have partners and I have discovered companies that are helping us that we may invest in.

It's become a startup and I think what that's taught me-and I wouldn't be doing it if I wasn't also making a difference. It's kind of reinvigorated the creativity, my creativity, and it's made me feel like a founder again, which it's been a while since I've felt that way.

So, it's really woken me up. It allows me, one to just exercise that creativity I know is inside me. You don't stop being an entrepreneur just because you become an investor. Either you are an entrepreneur, you have it for life. It's a lifelong club. You may put it on hiatus a little bit, but it doesn't go away.

So, it reminds me that I am an entrepreneur. It also helps me be empathic with my own portfolio entrepreneurs and founders. As an investor, you're in this bubble. You're kind of at the top of this food chain and you forget that there are all these other people involved and they have their own struggles and challenges.

So, now that I'm totally stressed out about this nonprofit launching in April, it reminds me how stressful it is to be an entrepreneur. It's really, the stress is pretty low compared to what those folks go through. I'm now reminded of how stressful, how challenging, how many pieces you have to keep up in the air to be successful.

The energy is totally different when you're in a startup. Actually, this experience with #Climate has made me want to make it kind of a requirement that everyone who is here spends a day a week doing something totally different that is productive, not just going to the movies, that reminds them and kind of teaches them about what it means to be an entrepreneur.

So, it's kind of our ongoing, if we had to be accredited every year as an investor, this would be the way that we would do it. It had to be required that you'd have a day a week to go do something that is entrepreneurial that you can kind of bring back into the partnership.

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