Note from Editors:
#startups need money, but Ariadne Capital CEO Julie Meyer says do not chase the money. Focus on what you are good at, seek mentors, and money will chase you.
by Amy Guttman
“Don’t chase the money; let the money come to you.” Julie Meyer, named by the Wall Street Journal one of Europe’s 30 most #influential women, has made those words her mantra. It’s the advice she frequently advises startups seeking #funding from Ariadne Capital’s #entrepreneurs Fund, which Meyer founded in 2000.
Meyer, who is chairman and CEO, established the #investment and advisory firm after selling her first business, First Tuesday, a networking forum for entrepreneurs for $50 million. Her goal with Ariadne Capital was to create a new funding model in the UK and Europe: one based on entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs – a pioneering concept at the time. Meyer, a longtime London resident, grew up near Palo Alto and went to Paris for her MBA at INSEAD. Her years living abroad have shaped much of her approach to global entrepreneurship.
Ariadne invests in late stage seed startups and Meyer has been involved in the early stages of big wins like lastminute.com, Skype, Zopa and other successes. Meyer authored Welcome to EntrepreneurCountry in 2012, the eponymous name for a global platform connecting the ‘David’s’ of the world with the ‘Goliaths.’
Meyer is passionate about mentorship, nurturing young entrepreneurs, and bringing out the best in people. She works tirelessly, penning columns, speaking at Ted talks and other events, and hosting forums attracting leaders from various sectors.
I sat down with Meyer recently for her insights about what makes a successful mentorship, and why her advice to stop chasing the money, contrarian as it may be, is the most important to follow.
Amy Guttman: Why are mentors so important and how do you select them?
Julie Meyer: It happens like all great relationships in life – when people want it to happen. We’ve all been in places where we’re mentally unavailable. It can only happen when you’re available and it happens quite naturally. I have tried to help people I feel have potential or they’re so much fun I want to help them go faster. I want to help people who are just starting to figure things out in the world.
Guttman: How important is it to have a sort of portfolio of mentors, from different backgrounds, ages and experience levels?
Meyer: To be good at your game, top of your field, you have to learn. At the end of the year, I did a review of what I was going to do more of, and less of and I made a note of four people I had met and decided I had a lot to learn from them and should be doing more with them. I think we get bits of mentorship in lots of different ways. Some of us choose our friends that way, or our business partners or people we collaborate with. There’s also a lot of mutual mentoring. There’s always a trade; sometimes it’s implicit, sometimes one is young and beautiful, the other person is older and wiser, other times it could be an academic genius. When the trade comes unstuck, the mentorship becomes unstuck. Look at Mariah Carey and her first marriage to the Sony exec. He was quite clearly the mentor and she was the diva until she became so huge, or she wanted to become more equal, and it came undone. I think ‘the deal’ gets struck at the beginning of any relationship – romantic or otherwise.
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