Photo credit: Unsplash | @guesh1337
“Get out of the building!” – Steve Blank
Bonnie Foley-Wong, CEO of Pique Ventures, thinks that for some people, getting out of the building is easy and comes naturally to them. For others (herself included), getting out of the building requires coming to terms with vulnerability. Perhaps Steve Blank and Brené Brown should write a book together (or readers could just read Steve Blank’s book on customer development, Four Steps to the Epiphany, and Brené Brown’s book about vulnerability, Daring Greatly, back-to-back!)
The first time Bonnie got out of the building was in 2012 – the year she founded Pique Ventures. She hosted conversations to talk about impact, returns, crowdfunding, trust, and giving. One of the models of bridging investment relationships between investors and entrepreneurs that she tested was an investor network model premised on scaling “coffee meetings” rather than pitches. Bonnie hosted our first investor gathering on November 27, 2012. It was an attempt to intentionally help people “meet people before they needed to meet them” and was the first glimpse at investing as “taking care of the village”. There were no pitches, just 1-to-1 conversations amongst 5 investors and 4 entrepreneurs, curated slow-dating style. One of the investors in attendance provided feedback that shaped the next chapter of Pique. Although she was aligned with Pique’s approach to investing, she didn’t want to source deal flow herself and she was too busy to always attend network events (to this day, Pique tends to attract people that don’t frequent angel networks and pitch events.) She suggested that Bonnie launch a fund and was later one of the pioneering investors when Pique Fund launched in 2014.
As Bonnie began exploring building Pique Fund 2, early last year, she had to get out of the building again. In an earlier post, she shared how she realized she had found her ikigai while writing Pique Ventures’ proposal document for the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (or “VCCI”) in early 2018. The process of applying for the VCCI also required her to gather letters of support from her community and letters of interest from investors. Bonnie thinks she is rubbish at asking her customers for testimonials so asking investors, co-investors, partners, and Pique portfolio company CEOs to write letters of support pushed her outside of her comfort zone.
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For Bonnie, it feels absolutely joyful to be able to create and offer something that people want. To get to that feeling we have put our inventions, our ideas, and often ourselves out of the building and into the world to test, gather insights, and find product-market fit. She learned and is still learning that to prepare for getting out of the building we need:
- Vulnerability. Even though vulnerability exposes us to the possibility of rejection or criticism, without it we can’t expose ourselves to the possibility of acceptance or helpful insights.
- Support network. Having a support network or that place (or places or people) we can retreat to, where we do feel welcomed, valued, and accepted is valuable. She don’t think it is fair to assume we can simply accept repeated rejection without a place to go and without people to be with who help us fill up again.
- Access to essential resources. Getting out of the building isn’t a one-time thing. It requires iteration and you made need to change things in response to feedback before getting out of the building again. You’ll need access to the essential resources to sustain yourself through this iteration process and to make the necessary changes.
If you’re starting a venture, you’ll need to get out of the building. Growing your venture and faced with a pivot? Get out of the building. All this to say, we’re in this together.
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About Pique Ventures
Pique Ventures is an impact investment and management company. Pique Ventures enables a diverse community of investors to pursue integrated investing. Integrated Investing is a proprietary investment decision-making methodology to help create a better world and was developed specifically to evaluate impact and early-stage ventures.