Economy class and venture capital

How everything has never been so accessible yet still far from the reach of the masses

Recently I’ve completed my first trip around the world. It took me a total of 39 hours to fly from London to Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore and back to London. You already know from the title that this was not a fancy experience. I bought my tickets on sketchy booking sites chasing for the cheapest option available and I think I did a pretty good job, clocking in at just under £1,200 for the whole journey (that’s around 50p a minute, cheaper than an international call in 2006).

boarding for the last 6758 miles of the adventure

Accessibility and affordability of air travel manifested clearly in the economy class section of the planes I flew. My fellow travelers were from all walks of life, fancy suits, sandals and pacifiers.

Today we take for granted the process that allowed for this to happen. Automation of the sales process (skyscanner vs flight centre) created cost efficiencies that are now passed on to the consumers thus enabling for a larger audience to use the service and further increase economies of scale (bigger planes vs private ones).

This process of infrastructure automation is what has been driving most value creation in our day and age. In a sense, what allowed for the development of Airbnb and FB are the same conditions that allowed for my tickets to be so accessible. Interconnectivity and automation.

My friends and family are all very well aware of my fascination for the outcome of the process, what we usually refer to as democratisation (and if you want to know more about my opinions on this topic I have another post here). Here however, I want to talk about a level beyond the conditions, I want to talk about opportunities.

room with a view, snapped from the airbnb in HK

Whilst flying this twentyone-thousands miles I took the time to read some books, one title of my reading list was the highly acclaimed ‘Venture Deals’ by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.

Without getting in the details about the book itself, or the reason why I was reading it, I would like to focus rather on what it represents. Highly specific knowledge on venture capital deals. There I was, a twenty something reading about this obscure world of financial instruments, convertible loans and representation rights while on a trip around the world. To the most accomplished of you, this might not sound like a big deal. For me it is.

You see, my father is not a wall street guy nor I went to business school or interned in a bank when i finished my studies. Despite these odds,given the tools of today (ie. google) even I was able to find specific literature and make sure that it was a good piece of writing before I even made the purchase. But once again, without fixating on the process, what’s most amazing is that in less than 300 pages, without consulting any ‘guru’ or ‘experienced’ professional I had more knowledge about the topic than most people flying on the plane with me.

Education is changing, and the only thing standing in the way of universal knowledge is democratising the way ideas are shared and imparted.

I strongly believe that the problem lies in the method of delivery. Our education model is flawed, it relies on information that becomes old the moment it gets printed on a page or on professional figures whom knowledge sets are limited by their own experiences.

In a nutshell, the world today is not the one of Guttenberg. His mission was to spread knowledge and his tool was the press. My personal mission is no different, but my tools are.

And like Gut (shout out to the Man), I dream of a new press that allows for any idea to be communicated and distributed effectively to the masses in a way that is more engaging than a lecture, more current than a book and relies on all the failovers and opportunities that come with the infrastructure we’ve build in the past 20 years (ie. network effects).

The future of innovation will no longer depend on adding new modules to the infrastructure (ie. AI) but on what will transit on such modules (ie. knowledge) just like in Guttenberg’s times adding more characters to the press beyond the standard 21 letter alphabet wouldn’t really matter as much as the content on the actual page. Cheap travel and venture deals books are just the beginning of the information revolution, just like printing bibles was the beginning of the end of ignorance at scale.

It took me some 27 years to come to the conclusion that this is what I care about the most in the world. It’s a realisation rooted in my experiences and disabilities, and it’s a cause I’m devoting all my resources to. If you are too passionate about the topic, drop a comment or shoot me an email and let’s catch up over coffee. f.