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At the start of 2018, for close to two months, Bonnie Foley-Wong, CEO of Pique Venture laboured over a document, working evenings and weekends. She made more asks of her community and network for letters of support than she can count on both hands. She was at the start of the 2nd trimester of my 2nd pregnancy and she had a burst of energy. By the end of it, she had a 27,000-word, 50-page proposal document, plus appendices and supporting documents that themselves exceeded 50 pages. It was hard work, but she felt a sense of ease. Some might say she was “in flow”. Bonnie felt she had found her ikigai.

The moment Bonnie realized she had found her ikigai was as she wrote Pique Ventures’ submission for the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, a program by the Canadian government to improve gender diversity in the Canadian venture capital industry, by investing in new models of early-stage funding, managed by emerging managers.

Learn more about our campaign to harmonize venture capital

Ikigai, pronounced ee-kee-gi, means “a reason for being [alive]” or “a reason for living”. Ikigai is the combination of two Japanese words: iki meaning “life” or “alive” and kai  meaning “effect; result; fruit; worth; use; benefit” and it has its origins from the Japanese island of Okinawa.

Once she discovered the term ikigai, she recognized it elsewhere. At the BC Tech Summit in May 2019, CEO of Two Bit Circus, Brent Bushnell, spoke about ikigai in his keynote.

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Ikigai can be described as the convergence or intersection of four primary elements:

  1. What you love
  2. What the world needs
  3. What you are good at
  4. What you can be paid for

Some people discover their ikigai early in their lives and careers. For others, like me, it takes time, practice, and trying different things. In my mind, the four elements are puzzle pieces that she had to simultaneously discover and try to fit together, whilst not knowing what the whole puzzle looked like.

Ikigai could have interesting implications for due diligence. As an investor, imagine investing in an entrepreneur that has found her ikigai. David Lee of SV Angel referred to founder-market fit – the circumstance when “founders have a deep understanding of the market they are entering, and are people who ‘personify their product, business and ultimately their company.’” Combine that with founder-product fit – when founders can’t imagine creating any other product nor building any other business – and product-market fit – which Marc Andreesen called “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market” – and impact fit (what the world needs) and you pretty much have ikigai.

For founders, imagine aligning yourselves with investors that have found their ikigai. Recently, when Bonnie was asked how she developed Pique’s investment thesis, she made reference to finding my ikigai:

  • I love helping investors and entrepreneurs make more compassionate decisions that integrated analysis, emotion, body, and intuition. She is passionate about bringing more holistic decision-making approaches to the investment industry, an industry that traditionally advises to leave emotions out of decisions and doesn’t seem to acknowledge that intuition plays a role (except for people like Jason A. Voss.)
  • The world needs a different way of investing to solve the social, environmental, and economic challenges we face. She think of impact investing as a way of taking care of the village.
  • With over 20 years of experience in finance, due diligence, and investment decision-making, I’ve developed the skills and acumen to be good at this work.
  • I have created a livelihood serving both investors and entrepreneurs by financing early-stage impact ventures and am on my way towards creating a sustainable business rooted in this work and impact.

She can’t imagine focusing on anything other than investing as a way of taking care of the village. She can only imagine making compassionate investment decisions. she’s presently building Pique’s second fund and there have been many peaks and valleys. When Bonnie is in a valley, she remember her ikigai and it helps her stay focused and think of creative paths out of the valley.

(And after the ikigai-fueled effort and labour of writing that proposal document, Pique Ventures was selected to participate in the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative.)

Help Pique Ventures help more women and underrepresented entrepreneurs get funded. Please support our crowdfunding campaign to harmonize venture capital. We really appreciate your support.