When we set up Ramen Ventures, we asked ourselves what kind of fund we wanted to be. As a fund without external investors, we have full freedom in our investments. We knew that we wanted to invest in companies bringing positive changes to the world, but that is a broad topic and it needed to be refined.
So with a little introspection and a lot of imagination we asked ourselves:
- What do we want the future to look like?
- Which founders are building that future?
- What do those founders need to succeed?
From these questions came Ramen Ventures’ investment thesis, which we’ll describe below.
We firmly believe that a team with the right skills and philosophy will build a product that delights its users.
You can fake a great product but you can't fake a great company. When you lack the right people on your team, success will elude you. As such, when we evaluate a company, we start with the founders. We look for a founding team with some important traits:
- Technically exceptional and able to execute. The team must have all of the right components to make the business a success. This often means that the founding team has the three Ds: design, development and distribution.
- Armed with a secret. Understanding the market is important, but not sufficient. We look for founders who understand the inner workings of the industry and know something that no one else realizes.
- Aims high and far. We search for passionate founders who are executing a long term vision, not just building a product. The difference is important.
- Great at making decisions. Startups are the product of thousands of difficult decisions, and being good at making decisions will increase your likelihood of success over time.
- Able to attract great talent. The founding team must be strong, but they must be able to attract the best talent in order to grow and remain successful.
We view these traits as a necessity as having a good team is the baseline - It's the cost of admission and there's no getting around it.
Niche First, World Later Problems
We believe it’s critical that companies focus on problems that affect many people.
There are countless problems that are solved by technology, but the most important ones affect the masses. Founders who work on these problems have an opportunity to build large and meaningful companies. We believe that by applying great talent to large and difficult challenges, the greatest results emerge.
However it is critical that companies start in a niche. Focusing on a small niche is a powerful weapon that lets you hone your products to delight your users. It ensures that you have truly understood your users' problems before trying to grow.
Our focus is not limited to today's challenges. This mentality also applies to the companies building the platforms of the future. Today, this includes AR, VR, IoT, etc. These up and coming platforms will help usher in the next generation of great technology companies.
Creating a Strong Business
We believe that strong companies need strong moats to succeed in the long term.
Beyond looking for strong teams solving big problems, we make sure that they’ll be able to withstand the challenges of the future.
Specifically, we look for teams that have a sustainable competitive advantage or as we call it, a moat. Moats take the shape of economies of scale, high switching costs, or intangible assets. Success attracts competition, and competitors will begin to encroach on your market as your company grows. A company that wants to be successful in its mission to change the world needs to stay alive long enough to do it. Our belief is that speed, design, and great technology decisions are the baseline of a great company. A strong moat is what will make a company strong and enduring.
We only invest in companies that we can help.
Building a successful company is a long and treacherous journey. Companies must pick their investors wisely - choosing people who can help them navigate product/market fit, engineering, recruiting, and personal challenges well. Similarly, investors should invest in companies they can really help.
We’re investing in great founders, solving big problems and building the future we want to see. If this is you, say firstname.lastname@example.org.