A portrait of Venture Capital / by Dimitra Taslim

I love venture investing. I also love photography. And I’m especially fond of shooting portraits. Portrait photography has given me two perspectives that have influenced how I approach venture investing. Firstly, every person’s story is unique and precious, and deserves our empathy. Secondly, the context and ‘big picture’ should not be underestimated.

Knowing that everyone’s story deserves my empathy compels me to be fair and sensitive towards entrepreneurs. I believe that venture capital is a product for entrepreneurs. It’s a privilege to work with these driven, smart and optimistic risk takers. My job involves the daily ritual of saying “no” to entrepreneurs who have 10-20 years of experience on me at both life and work. Venture Capital calls for mental tenacity — not becoming exhausted by the times you must say “no” or throw water on someone's great idea without being abrasive. Just as the people in portraits come before photographers, founders come before investors. So I do my best to be responsive and treat them with utmost respect.

Seeing the ‘big picture’ made me realize that big money comes with big responsibility. As a VC, you are in the position of deciding the direction in which technology develops. You decide which markets get disrupted. You decide who gets laid off due to digitization. You decide which new jobs get created by technology. You decide which products get the chance to shape society. Just as a photographer chooses the moments to be preserved for posterity, a VC chooses the technologies that will shape our lives for years to come. VCs should be mindful of the enormous impact they could have on the future of humanity, and choose to change society for the better through the investments they make.