I grew up with entrepreneurs as my heroes. I read Bill Gates’ book in seventh or eighth grade. One of the first stocks I owned was Google. But the entrepreneurs who stood out to me the most were Nikola Tesla and Konstantine "Gus" Kapsalis, my grandfather.
When I was a kid my walls were covered with posters of Tesla's patents. My high school graduation gift was a visit to his museum in Belgrade, Serbia. Tesla was an unparalleled genius. Yet, he died alone, unstable, and penniless. I always thought that if Tesla had one great partner he would have built a legendary company and died a happy man. I want to be that partner for the next Tesla.
I really like AI companies, but not the buzz-wordy ones. I think the name “artificial intelligence” does a disservice to the industry.
When my grandfather was a kid in Greece he hustled, selling watermelon and yogurt. The Nazis burnt down his village and after the War he set off to work at a factory in Chicago. He sent most of his wages back to his family but saved enough to start a diner. For him, entrepreneurship was freedom. He was uneducated and humble. Yet, he was brilliant and when he walked into a room everyone felt his love. I carry his name with pride every day.
I believe honesty is always the best policy.
I believe that we have a duty to help others.
I believe the keys to success are: work hard, work smart, be surrounded by great people, help others, and own equity.
I have this Daniel Burnham quote on my wall: “Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood, and probably themselves will not be realized.”
I have a deep attraction to underappreciated excellence. I'm allergic to mediocrity and complacency.
I love the underdog and far prefer someone hungry to someone who is full.
The most important word in my work life is focus. If you work hard enough and smart enough you can achieve anything, not everything.
My background is in artificial intelligence, although "intelligence" is an impossible promise. I really like virtuous data cycles. If you have a quantifiable objective that offers real value, and you can build a data set that gives you a growing advantage, that is the business I like.
Each founder is unique, just like each market is unique. It's more about the fit between the founder and the market opportunity.
I want founders to know I am a real teammate to them. My core motivator is service to others in the pursuit of excellence.
I will block, I will tackle, I will do anything I can for the entrepreneurs we back. I am loyal. I see my entrepreneurs and their teams a lot, sometimes multiple times a week. And that's not because I need to or they need to. It's because we like to be together and we make each other better.