Julie Meyer: “Greed does not work in business”

Hats off to Smarta: this is a great interview.

Meyer, internet darling and hotshot CEO, talks about the model behind Ariadne Capital. "We’re not an venture capital fund, we’re not a incubator, we’re a blended model. We back the best entrepreneurs in the world."

For start-ups looking for funding, her matter-of-fact explanation of what’s expected from her portfolio companies is invaluable: "We take one to three per cent of the equity in our companies in return for services… a percentage of funds raised or income rights for deals we get done… there may also be a small retainer."

Smell that? That’s the refreshing whiff of straight talking.

Meyer also imparts a number of pearls of wisdom for entrepreneurs looking to start a company. "There’s often an issue with too many founders," she says. "People start up a company with ten of their friends and then two will spend the next few years doing all the work and trying to either get the other founders out or make them work harder."

Instead, you have to be brutal and business-minded from the outset. If indeed you have what it takes. Meyer’s definition of an entrepreneur? "You have have the discipline and drive of an athlete and the creativity and vision of an artist."

Not only that, you have to be a great leader. Meyer cites Colin Powell’s definition: good leaders are people that other people trust.

Meyer really knows her onions. She discusses the Cambrian explosion, the need for good marketing – "marketing always trumps technology" and why greed can never be a driver in business, because that ruins the "trust" (see previous paragraph).

But perhaps one of the most fascinating points she makes in the interview, is the history of venture capital. The Medici family, Princess Isabella – they were venture capitalists. "Princess Isabella gave Columbus all that money because she wanted to stop him going to someone else. That’s the essence of venture capitalism."

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