Nelson Mandela, Capital Efficiency & Early Stage Companies in 2023

Koa Labs
KoaLabs
Published in
2 min readDec 18, 2022

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“Like the gardener, a leader must take responsibility for what he cultivates; he must mind his work, try to repel enemies, preserve what can be preserved, and eliminate what cannot succeed.” Nelson Mandela

I recently had the fortune to visit Robben Island in Cape Town South Africa as part of a visit to one of our best customers at Tamr. As our tour guide was taking us around the prison courtyard where the prisoners had their daily exercise — I noticed this quote from Nelson Mandela that is especially relevant for early stage companies during the current macroeconomic cycle.

Amazingly powerful words for anyone leading an early stage company at this time. Along with my partners at Founder Collective — I’m a huge fan of capital efficiency in all startups and now is the time for every early stage leader to exercise the muscles of capital efficiency. The well known Google mantra “scarcity creates clarity” has never been more true and the current macroeconomic environment will likely help build uniquely powerful character and discpline of the current cohort of entrepreneurs and startups that will result in a large crop of great new companies.

When I started investing in earnest in 2008 — I think we had a similar benefit — the cohort of companies that we invested in at Koa in the 2008–2012 timescale were born in the context of difficult macroeconomic environment and as a result many of them built capital efficiency into the core of their culture and business.

Bottom line — it’s a great time to put money to work in startups that embrace capital efficiency. I’m thrilled to be working with my partners at Founder Collective as well as our affiliate funds at Koa to back the next generation of successful mission driven entrepreneurs and startups that will be as successful as the previous cohort which includes such great companies as Carta, Upstart, Recorded Future, Tamr and many others.

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Koa Labs
KoaLabs

Located in the heart of Harvard Square, Koa Labs is a Seed Fund for promising start-ups. http://koalabs.com