What’s Next for Venture: Navigating COVID-19 with Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis with Kay-Mok Ku

Ku Kay-Mok, Managing Partner, Gobi Partners

Kay-Mok shared how the challenges of fundraising in the 1990s as a minority entrepreneur in the United States piqued his interest in female founders, who, as a function of the additional barriers they often face relative to their male counterparts, have experienced adversity and come out the other side with valuable investment opportunities. He also told us how Gobi has coped with economic pressure in the past, what qualities differentiate successful founders, and why he sees the current crisis as an opportunity to unlock future value.

Mok at the Echelon Tech Conference —2013

KMK: Women founders generally perform better. The personal demands on women entrepreneurs are always tougher; some investors find those demands concerning, but we see their experience managing an out-sized family workload as a positive sign. They are already accustomed to balancing competing priorities and handling high levels of stress and pressure. This builds resiliency, and resilience is essential to overcoming the inevitable challenges of running a startup.

KMK: Black swan events work to the advantage of startups. By their nature, startups thrive on disruption, and a crisis at its roots is a disruptive event. Crises are more fundamentally problematic for corporations with set business models that cannot easily diversify or innovate. Startups have to be nimble, and being nimble can make you a winner in a crisis.

The question we’re asking is this: when all this is over, what will resume, and what will be forced to change? The key for investors is to have a long-term time horizon.

As Cédric Bisson, our partner at Teralys, says, “Gender diversity will be one of the pillars that will allow us to bounce back from this crisis”

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