Today feels like a momentous culmination of a journey that started when I simply followed a thread of something that inspired me.
Back in 2004, I attended a talk at UC Berkeley by Paul Graham, who was promoting his innovative new investment firm with a funny name, Y Combinator. His idea was to give hackers like me some hands-on guidance and a small sum ($6K at the time) to build a startup. Though I’d already started several companies on my own, I recall being excited about starting a “real” startup with investors backing it. I just knew I needed to be a part of this movement.
Two rounds of applications later, I vividly remember Paul calling to tell me they had accepted my application into YC. I was over the moon; I had been welcomed into this obscure “startup founder” club/thing! I didn’t know where that journey would take me, but I was just excited to be along for the ride.
Over time, while building my own startups, I started setting my sights on becoming an angel investor. There was something so compelling about multiplying my creative potential by giving money to startups I believed in. And by “giving”, I actually mean that most of the time it felt like a donation! I had so much belief in this space though, I just loved the idea of living vicariously through other startups that I otherwise couldn’t contribute to.
My experience is that when you set an intention like “I want to become an angel investor”, or “I want to become an artist”, there is rarely a moment along the journey where you feel like you’re actually that thing. I was making relatively small investments in obscure companies that no one had ever heard of, so I never felt like a “real” angel investor.
And then, one day you wake up and you are that thing that you intended to be. Today is that day for me, because one of my early investments, Coinbase, has gone public (my first IPO)! It’s one of the first investments I ever made, and I distinctly recall thinking that it was one of my riskier investments given all the uncertainty around cryptocurrency exchanges at the time. And while I have long since sold my early crypto investments (doh!), I’m so glad I took a bet on this team.
I often feel conflicted about sharing personal achievements like this, but I wanted to share my story today in hopes it will inspire you to follow your own dreams, whatever they may be.
My own dreams are shifting yet again and welcoming in new intentions that don’t yet feel “real”. But I feel braver knowing that the path starts with setting intentions and following what inspires you.