by Jeremy Baksht - Director of Investments
As entrepreneurs and investors, one thing our team has learned through decades of experience is the power of endurance. We recognize that every point in history is coupled with significant challenges, but the 2020s have presented unique issues on a truly global scale. It is in times like these we recognize that opportunity abounds, especially in venture, and when to call on our roots of endurance.
In just the first months of 2022, our team has been nonstop, meeting with prospective companies, LPs and partners from Bucharest to Stockholm, Amsterdam, London, New York and Denver. We’ve attended and spoken at conferences from CES in Las Vegas, to SXSW, HIMSS, and the Icon Family Investor Gathering in NYC. We are reminded in these times which call for, and reward endurance, of a ship and an incredible journey from early last century…
Endurance is a 144-foot, three-masted wooden ship that is legendary in polar history as the main protagonist of perhaps one of the most ambitious human discovery stories. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton went to sea on the Endurance with a brave crew of 27 in 1914, bound for the Weddell Sea with a goal of crossing to Antarctica. We are reminded of the story as his ship was recently found 107 years later, 10,000 feet down in waters that are among the iciest on Earth.
“The Boss” as his crew called Shackelton was not the first or the last to make the trek with several predecessors making the journey and meeting certain death. In early January 1915 Endurance became stuck less than 100 miles from its destination and drifted with the ice for more than 10 months as the ice slowly crushed it. As the ship became damaged, the crew set up camp on the ice and lived on the ice until it broke up five months after the ship sank. Shackleton failed, but his leadership across the treacherous 800-mile open-boat journey from Southern Ocean to the island of South Georgia, makes him a hero to many.
Discovery, bravery, curiosity is always in short supply and it is our job at Azafran Capital Partners to research, discover, diligence, invest, and support explorers as they prepare for their extended journeys. We love meeting the Bosses pushing the boundaries of Industry, IoT Enterprise, and Health & Wellness. Their “ships” have been hardened by radical breakthroughs in computational tools, open source code, cloud, and data generated via modalities including acoustics, voice, and imagery.
Further, the composability of technology now allows breakthroughs of higher speed and agility through recombination. In simple terms, there are so many hard and soft Lego pieces available to entrepreneurs that product market fit iterations and A / B testing allows for fast experimentation. We as investors, “go slow to go fast” by analyzing product led businesses at their most fundamental levels to see how the magic has been assembled and more importantly the commercial viability of the companies we invest in.
We live in historically uncertain times. As the world order changes and businesses cycle through phases of expansion and contraction we navigate icy waters with our crew to seek out the Schelling point between the future we visualize and near term realities. We do understand well that the length and intensity of each phase varies despite the best efforts of various fiscal and monetary political apparatuses. In fact consumer and investor confidence often play a larger role in influencing economic performance and the phases in the cycle. On the demand side, sentiment is now easily sourced real time from Twitter and one can get bogged down in hype from new frontier assets including finance / web3.
We prefer to avoid fads and stick to our own enduring thesis of investing in companies that solve real problems via automation and efficiency, and generally improve lives based on applied deep science. We believe in the power of endurance.
“Fortitudine vincimus.”-- which was the Shackleton family motto. It roughly translates to: "Through Endurance, We Conquer."