07: Angel in 100+ startups, focused on learning and catalyzing mission-first startups - Eric Ries, Creator Lean Startup, Founder, LTSE

Eric Ries has invested in over 100+ early-stage startups. He is best known as the author of The Lean Startup, a must-read for entrepreneurs worldwide. He also founded the Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE), a new stock exchange designed to support companies with long-term goals. He recently launched a new podcast discussing ways to re-think corporate governance to be mission-first.

In Part 1 of our interview, he shared insights from angel investing. In Part 2, Eric shares his new ethos for startups rooted in long-term thinking, putting a company’s mission at the center of everything and aligning all stakeholders. This mission-first approach challenges the traditional capitalist, and data shows it leads to better company performance.

Eric writes checks of $10K or less as an Angel at the earliest stages. He is interested in mission-driven founders, education, fintech, AI, and more.

  1. Eric Angel invests for reasons beyond financial outcomes. He focuses on giving back to people in his network, learning about startup approaches and various industries, and doubling down in areas he is passionate about. Any time he has strayed from his investing criteria, it hasn’t worked out. 
  2. Advising then investing: Eric prefers to work with a startup as a friend or advisor before investing. He keeps his check size to $10K to support his goal of high-velocity learning. He can write more checks with smaller checks, which means more learning.
  3. Investing as a spiritual journey: Eric practices introspection to support continuous learning and to avoid overgeneralizing when things don’t work out. When he invests, he applies Lean Startup thinking by asking, “Is this outcome falsifiable”? Invest -> Measure -> Learn. We guess this makes him is a "Lean Investor"
  4. Eric’s second act after Lean Startup is supporting mission-first startups: He advocates for a new ethos that he believes will lead to better performance in the long term.
  5. Eric shares tools for mission-first founders, including the Public Benefit Corporation, the LTSPV, employee voting trust, and more.
  • (00:00) - Introduction to First Funders
  • (00:54) - Meeting Eric Ries: a journey down memory lane
  • (02:45) - The Impact of Lean Startup
  • (07:15) - Eric's Angel investing journey starts with being an advisor and a mindset of giving back
  • (09:55) - What is Eric's investing criteria
  • (14:04) - Eric prefers to advise startups first before investing
  • (17:47) - Eric's second act: from Lean Startup to nurturing mission-driven founders who will also realize massive profits
  • (25:14) - Writing small $10K checks into a high volume of early-stage startups enables high velocity learning
  • (27:24) -
  • (28:28) - Eric decouples investing from outcomes to stay focused on giving back and learning
  • (30:44) - How to be a useful startup advisor: stand for something that creates competitive advantage for startups
  • (34:31) - A challenging investment: lessons from high-stakes and high-stress moments and can the startup journey be a force for healing trauma?
  • (43:04) - The Long-Term Stock Exchange vision: a new ethos and governance approach for the startup community
  • (45:01) - How mission-driven founders and investors need to be brave to challenge the capitalist status quo
  • (47:33) - How tech startup can leverage the Public Benefit Corp and how the B-Corp certification won't work for software companies
  • (51:24) - LTSPV: An SPV Angels can leverage to align their check with long-term thinking
  • (54:08) - The spiritual journey of investing: what did you really learn vs what do you think happened?
  • (57:07) - Speed Round and Final Thoughts
  • (59:24) - Takeaways

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Disclaimer: This is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

Creators and Guests

Aamir Virani
Aamir Virani
Helped 50+ orgs grow product and scale teams.Software Engineer ➡️ Product Manager ➡️ Founder (Nest Cam fka Dropcam) 🔀 Investor, CRE, Founder@pifgov 2021
Shaherose Charania
Shaherose Charania
Venture Investing at @CakeVentures and @joindvc | Always helping founders | Raised on Atari, MS-DOS, Bollywood & Hip Hop. 🇨🇦in 🇺🇸
Eric Ries
Eric Ries
Trying to change how startups are built.
07: Angel in 100+ startups, focused on learning and catalyzing mission-first startups - Eric Ries, Creator Lean Startup, Founder, LTSE
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