An excerpt from Physician Underdog.
When investors make the decision to invest, there is something deeper that occurs outside of the capital. A foundation of empowerment is built, and the founders have an edge now over others that didn’t get investment. This comes back to how powerful venture capitalists can be, because they have the ability, through their endeavors, to empower these companies. In the spectrum of changing the trajectory of the company and everything it touches, the venture capitalists are in a position of power. It wasn’t a power that was appointed, but rather one earned through raising money and then being in a position to invest (as we saw fit). Most people don’t know that this power exists, and as my experience got deeper in the industry, I was presented with opportunities to educate.
Knowing this power, we must ask some important questions: How do we seek out our deals and how did the founders get connected with us? Did the founders have a common friend, possibly one of our venture partners or associates? We also have to ask questions to ensure that we are educating ourselves and others on how to invest in these opportunities. Do men and women ask or apply for funding in the same manner when representing their company? Do people among different cultures ask or apply for funding in the same manner as others when representing their companies? Do people among different communities apply for company funding in the same manner? Do all the different people abovementioned have friends and family with similar connections and wealth? The quick answer to all these questions is NO! Further, are these questions being asked within the closed doors of venture capital firms across the world? I would bet that they are not and that many people and communities have invested in these endeavors without realizing the truth. There are powerful decisions being made, without investor oversight or input. Decisions, such as which companies to invest in as venture capitalists (VCs), are currently being made dependent upon the result of conversations made behind closed doors. And these decisions are extremely important, not only for the success of the investors but for everyone who has committed to the endeavor.
Outside of the ability of the founders to give a startup company some edge, they offered them the opportunity to help raise more capital and grow the enterprise. The investment empowered many young people and adults from the community who were watching with curiosity and were inspired to maybe one day follow in our footsteps. These people will become our future role models and people of influence. In the eyes of the venture ecosystem, these startup companies were validated by receiving our investment. Think about the influence and insight being offered to the people, on both sides of the table, who were watching and hearing about the opportunities being pursued. It’s powerful. It’s very powerful.
As I have learned about this industry and seen what impact we can make as investors, I have come to recognize that we have a large responsibility. We must ask all of the questions above, with the intention to invest responsibly with inclusivity, accountability, and transparency. In this way, our processes can constantly be improved. The manner by which I am looking at this space may seem ambitious, but the more I uncover and understand how people can differ in different communities and have different experiences and results when seeking investment capital, the more I want to discuss. I want to get my investment peers in the venture capital space to not only listen but to start asking questions regarding how we can improve this industry and provide more impact as a collective. There is a lot of money and time already being spent with minimal to no impact on society. In fact, I believe that if more investment firms participated in this thesis of investing, more problems would be solved, and the world would be a better place. I’m telling you, this is all very powerful and influential stuff. It shapes people’s jobs, their families, their communities, their earning potential, innovation, education, and so much more.
For the record, I am one person with a small team but a big vision. I am also the one person writing this book, but the book is about a very special team of unique individuals that have helped me along this entrepreneurial journey. I wanted to make sure that it’s understood that it was teamwork that carried LOUD to where it exists today. That being said, I am dedicating my time and energy to speaking, writing, and acting on this big vision. It’s possible that I saw and experienced the power of entrepreneurship and investing early in my journey. It’s also possible that my medical degree gave me a foundation to think about people in a different light. I do know that I am utilizing my medical degree in a much broader way and bringing that same ethical code to the field of venture capital and entrepreneurship. For those not experienced in the field of medicine, I took the Hippocratic Oath when I was in medical school to “First do no harm.” This oath was very important to me and to my colleagues when we were making decisions and had huge responsibilities when approaching each and every patient. It was a helpful guideline when thinking about treatment, how to approach a situation, or just how to communicate with a patient. I think “first do no harm” is a very impactful message that can help guide people in all walks of life.
When I came into the business world, I saw a huge spectrum of ethics and am still shocked at how there aren’t any standards. Why must one be in a professional career only to have some guidelines and/or rules to follow? I don’t currently have patients in the entrepreneurial world, but I do have a lot of people in my sphere with whom I have the ability to educate and empower. I am bringing the Hippocratic Oath into the field of venture capital and entrepreneurship in an effort to impact the world on a different but equally important scale.
Navin Goyal is a physician-entrepreneur and author of Physician Underdog.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com