Posted by: Paige Craig
Posted on 01/4/2024
Welcome to Venture Visionaries, a brand-new series brought to you by Outlander VC. Hosted by Paige Craig, Managing Partner at Outlander VC, this series explores what sets these investors apart and provides unique insights into their perspectives on the startup world. Join us as we sit down with some of the most influential investors in the industry, uncovering the secrets behind their success and learning how they navigate the ever-changing landscape of investing.
From their investment strategies to their predictions for the future, we’ll bring you inspiring conversations that’ll resonate with aspiring entrepreneurs and anyone curious about the world of venture capital. So, grab your headphones and get ready to be inspired by the visionaries shaping the future of innovation!
First up, we have Mike Maples, Jr. from Floodgate! Mike is a renowned venture capitalist known for his keen eye for breakthrough startups and his ability to identify successful founders. We’ll dive deep into the key characteristics that make founders successful and the traits that set breakthrough startups apart from the rest. Mike will also share his insights on the role of an investor as a co-conspirator, working closely with founders to drive their success. In our conversation, we cover:
If you’re ready to dive in, listen to our full conversation now to hear Mike’s thoughts on successful founders, breakthrough startups, and the future of venture capital. Alternatively, keep scrolling to discover our three biggest takeaways from the episode, key quotes from Mike, and more exciting content below. 👇
In our conversation, Mike Maples, Jr. emphasized his investment philosophy of backing pattern breakers—individuals who propose a new way of doing things which challenges the status quo. He believes that a great startup forces a choice, not a comparison, and is essentially a challenge to the established norms.
“My job is to invest in pattern breakers,” Maples stated. “A lot of people say that venture capital is about pattern matching, and I actually somewhat reject that. My job is to find the people who propose a new way and say, hey, the way that you’re used to doing things isn’t the best way. There’s this radically different way.”
He further explained, “The pattern breaker engages in pattern breaking thinking, the pattern breaking actions.” Maples believes the pattern breakers are distinguished by their thoughts and actions, often acting in ways that make others uncomfortable, but leading to innovation and change.
According to Mike, inflections play a critical role in a startup’s success. He believes that a powerful inflection point is a precondition for success in a startup, as it provides them with the ability to wage asymmetric warfare on the present.
“I look for, on the ideas front, are they harnessing inflections?” Maples said. “An inflection is kind of like a surfer has to have skill, but they have to pick the right wave. And a good wave is a precondition for success at surfing. And I believe that a powerful inflection is a precondition of success in a startup,” he explained.
He also emphasized that timing is a significant risk factor, and thus, understanding inflections can help in evaluating whether an idea is well-timed or not.
Maples shared his fascination with the rapid advancements in generative AI and its potential implications on various industries. He also discussed the concept of “digital twinning,” where a product’s usage and potential issues are simulated and tested in the digital domain before being built in the physical world.
“The thing I find interesting about AI is there’s so many inflections and they’re happening so quickly and they’re so unpredictable that one thing displaces the next thing from one week to the next,” Maples said.
“It’s not how I would have normally thought about things in the past,” he said, discussing digital twinning. He added, “You start to wonder if more and more products will have a digital twin that is specified, and then that digital twin will simulate lots of different corner cases.”
Mike Maples, Jr. is a co-founding Partner at Floodgate. He has been on the Forbes Midas List eight times in the last decade and was also named a “Rising Star” by FORTUNE and profiled by Harvard Business School for his lifetime contributions to entrepreneurship.
Before becoming a full-time investor, Mike was involved as a founder and operating executive at back-to-back startup IPOs, including Tivoli Systems (IPO TIVS, acquired by IBM) and Motive (IPO MOTV, acquired by Alcatel-Lucent.) Some of Mike’s investments include Twitter, Twitch.tv, Clover Health, Okta, Outreach, ngmoco, Chegg, Bazaarvoice, and Demandforce.
Mike is known for coining the term “Thunder Lizards,” which is a metaphor derived from Godzilla that describes the tiny number of truly exceptional companies that are wildly disruptive capitalist mutations. Mike likes to think of himself as a hunter of the “atomic eggs” that beget these companies.
Mike is the host of the Starting Greatness podcast, which shares startup lessons from the super performers.
Paige invests in brilliant founders from across the US, using his Outlander Founder Framework to drive returns in the top 5% of VCs globally.
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