Investing in the People Stack: Growing Oaks from Seed (Altruists Welcome)

  1. Inexperience, failure rates, misallocation of capital
  • aspects of the startup and scale-up worlds are how new companies or technologies will be created in the future (applied in whatever context large or small),
  • small cross-skilled and experienced teams can/do/will have global impact,
  • there’s a knowledge gap in the startup world which time and experience usually fills,
  • people are the difference in a range of cases, between success and (bad) failure,
  • automation is going to wipe out (or dislocate) a significant proporition of work apart from the most creative jobs, then;
Any excuse for a GIF!

What if…instead of investing in ideas we invested in people before they have the ideas or the ability to execute them?

What if we created a “Future Fund” specificially to invest in people — aged c.18–25 — naturally interested (or not!) in technology to gain skills for junior level positions in the startup or larger tech world (or another industry in dire need of tech skills)? Then supported them to naturally develop through real world experience (the startup way!), with a solid foundation where they’re not starting from scratch or perpetuating bad practices?

  • cannot afford to pay the entry fee, or
  • those who have already racked up huge debts from university and wouldn’t be able to add to them prior to starting to earn, or
  • those who need extra support outside of the course itself
  • provide a way into the tech world from a diverse range of backgrounds and education levels
  • create opportunity without incurring debt for young people
  • join a community of skilled people in more experienced teams and organisations
  • accelerate learning to create forever learners with a “continuous skill development mindset”
  • create a community/cohort/alumni that is both active & supportive
  • embed startup “yes, try it” thinking and best practice into a generation

That some of these things exist already is a good sign. It’s the bringing it all together that’s our challenge now.

This would address longer term structural workforce challenges that we should be actively preparing for now. It could arm a new generation of capable, entrepreneurially minded startupers, irrespective of their background. It also feels as if it fits with the tech culture of people helping each other.

It’s a mix of altruism and self interest — yet isn’t every early stage investment?

I’m quite taken with this idea, though imagine that, for some, the thought of “giving money away” might not seem like a good investment. However, in the long term from a macro perspective, my instinct believes it would payback over time. Investing in people, inspiring and empowering them to be competant creators, thinkers and doers is worth every penny.

From small seeds grow big oaks, or something like that…

Of course, this doesn’t preclude individuals developing themselves at speed and cost appropriate for them. This would be about accelerating and supporting that process, a framework.

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I help build and grow things on the internet. Product + People + Growth. Together we can go further. “chief climate officer” @ Zopeful.com

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Adam Oskwarek

Adam Oskwarek

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I help build and grow things on the internet. Product + People + Growth. Together we can go further. “chief climate officer” @ Zopeful.com