Utopic Ventures

Idea: Be the first investor and Shadow Co-Founder to the most promising founders.

Problem: Too many of the world’s best founders are stuck.

  • Stuck working at a business that doesn’t value their talents.
  • Stuck running their last startup that’s hit a plateau.
  • Stuck trying to find an idea for their next startup.

Solution: Invest in the best founders before they create their next startup.

  • Give founders 1+ years of freedom to work full-time on their next startup idea.
    • Help founders skip one or more funding rounds and potentially avoid VC funding entirely.

Deal: Utopic Ventures (UV) will be your co-founder + first investor for 50%.

  • Help founders sprint through the idea maze and get to product-market fit ASAP.

Why: Most founders already own less than 50% of their company by their seed round.

  • 1 co-founder (50/50 split) + 1 pre-seed round (20% dilution) = 40% ownership pre-seed.

How: Support founders with money, feedback, and friends when they need it the most.

  • Funding: Founders often stay too long at their last startup and/or rush into their next startup because they need money.
  • Coaching: Founders rarely have an external voice in their corner who’s aligned with their interests.
    • Investors often pressure founders to fundraise and scale prematurely.
    • Advisors usually don’t provide much value because they don’t have much equity.
  • Community: Founders get energy from connecting and commiserating with other founders.
    • Group founders into 6-8 person crews that meet weekly to share highs, lows, challenges, and opportunities.
    • Create a buddy system where every founder always has at least one other founder they can text or call whenever they need.

Model: Dreamville (or Roc-A-Fella) for startups.

  • Be a creative hub for the best founders to riff on product and growth challenges.

Strategy:

  • Be First: Be the first believer + investor in the next generation of great founders.
    • Founders always remember their first backer.
  • Think Global: Expand the pool of potential founders by increasing access to funding and support.
    • “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” — Anton Ego – Ratatouille
  • Be Free: Minimize the downside risk of starting a startup.
    • Funding Pool: Rolling Fund allows us to invest in founders before they start a startup.
    • Founder Pool: Founders that pool equity get access to a concentrated portfolio of startup bets.
      • This also incentivizes our founders to help each other and help us recruit, select, and mentor future classes of founders.
  • Think Bigger: Inspire founders to push themselves to their best possible work now.
    • Help founders Zoom Out and see all their possible opportunities.

Mission: Be the world’s earliest angel investor.

  • Invest in and inspire the next generation of creators.

Values:

  • Be independent: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Bootstrapping is a privilege: “Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” — James Baldwin
  • Make a move: “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.” ― Bruce Lee
  • Don’t give up: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas Edison
  • Be a believer: “I’d rather be optimistic and wrong than pessimistic and right.” — Elon Musk
  • Power to the founders: “The startups that can retain control tend to be the best ones. They’re the ones that set the trends, both for other startups and for VCs.” — Paul Graham
  • Invent the future: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay
  • Build a great team: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
  • Change the world: “Those people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do!” — Steve Jobs
  • Pay it forward: “The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends.” — Anton Ego

Vision: Support the best founders so they can solve the World’s Biggest Problems!

This idea is a work-in-progress. If you’d like to riff on it, hit me up @neilthanedar on Twitter!

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & CEO of Utopic, his startup studio. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has worked with community organizations since 2007 and political campaigns since 2016 to fight for better education and economic opportunities in Michigan.