Why "Fifty Years"?
In 1931 Winston Churchill wrote a phenomenal essay called "Fifty Years Hence", in which he predicts nuclear power, cell phones, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and even cultured meat! He also talks about the social responsibility of scientists and technologists to build the world we actually want. While we do not endorse the entire complicated legacy of Churchill, we were inspired by the predictive insight of this essay and the message that technologists have both great power and therefore great responsibility.
What's your story? Why did you start Fifty Years?
As entrepreneurs ourselves, we found it nearly impossible to find savvy investors that both had the skills, knowledge, and experience to help us scale our business, and also fully supported our mission. We decided to solve our own problem and found Fifty Years.
What's wrong with "business as usual"?
For too long the sole purpose of business has been to "maximize shareholder value," and nothing else. We think it's time to move past this idea of business. Not only has this thinking caused otherwise good people to start or work for companies that have negative societal or environmental impacts but, just as unfortunately, it's prevented a lot of entrepreneurs from fulfilling the full potential of business.
You can hear one of our Founding Partners, Seth Bannon, talk about this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylltMA4fWms
What types of companies do you invest in?
We support entrepreneurs solving the world's biggest problems with technology. Specifically, we back companies that, if successful, will be both massively profitable and make a serious dent in solving one of the Sustainable Development Goals. We strongly prefer companies with an initial go-to-market strategy starting in North America or Europe.
What specific areas are you interested in?
Currently, we're personally very interested in synthetic biology and food tech, but we don't limit our investments to any specific verticals. Education, health, civic, community, energy, hardware, software, robotics -- as long as there's a chance to build a massive business while solving a big problem in the world, it's exciting to us.
What stage do you invest in?
We invest at the seed stage. We often invest in a company's first funding round and occasionally the second. We typically like to see at least a product built, and ideally some market validation.
What are you looking for in founders you invest in?
We look for entrepreneurs that want to build massive businesses and move the world forward in a real way. We don't fund founders just looking to get rich, and we don't fund founders just looking to make a difference. We want founders that aim to make a positive impact by building a massive business.
Successful companies take many years to build, so we look for founders we could see ourselves working with for 5+ years. We like founders that are determined, passionate, smart, creative, and -- maybe most importantly -- can get right back up after getting knocked down. We look for charismatic leaders -- those that can recruit and inspire thousands of incredibly talented employees, and evangelize the company to customers, press, investors.
How do you work with companies?
We're entrepreneurs ourselves. Together, we've founded companies that have raised tens of millions of dollars and employed hundreds of people. From our experience running companies, we know what it means to be a good investor. First, we aim to never get in the way -- we support our founders in running their companies the way they want to. Second, we're always available when needed. We've helped our founders with everything from hiring, website design, introductions to other investors, culture building, sales strategy, and more. We've taken calls at 12am on Friday night to walk a portfolio founder through a tough decision. We love this -- helping our founders win is incredibly fulfilling. And because we've been there before, our entrepreneurs can learn from the things we've done right and avoid making the many mistakes we've made ourselves.
If you want to know what it's like working with us as investors, reach out to any of our portfolio founders. You can see a list of companies we've backed on the Companies page.
What's the connection between Fifty Years and Impact.tech?
Fifty Years is a seed fund that funds and supports entrepreneurs solving the world's biggest problems through business. Impact.tech is an event series for scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors excited about using business as a force for good. Impact.tech is currently produced and supported by the team at Fifty Years.
How do I get in touch with you?
We invest in people just as much as we invest in ideas so context and references are very important to us. The best way to talk face-to-face is by joining one of the monthly Impact.tech community events. You can also come say "hi" if you see we're speaking at a conference, or get an intro from someone in our network (LinkedIn/Facebook are your friends here). If, for whatever reason, none of the above is an option, email us at hello AT fifty.vc.