1% Better S4,

Karim Nurani – Sweat Equity, Investing Psychology, & Knowing when to take a risk! – EP171

June 04, 2020


Karim Nurani is an entrepreneur, investor, and chief strategy officer of Linqto, a leading platform providing liquidity in the private sector. He has 30 years of experience in new business development with a focus on strategy and business transformation. 

As a visionary who can assess business models from the perspectives of both an executive and investor, Nurani is responsible for the formation and success of over a hundred startups ranging from mining to process manufacturing.

As a partner at Keiretsu Connect, and throughout his time with Bay Angels, Sandalwood Ventures and other entities, he has guided investors and new venture leaders to the launch and development of markets as diverse as IoT, GreenTech, CannaTech, AR and VR and more.

This was the first time in 1% Better history that we dived deep into Investing and I learned a lot. Karim is a great storyteller and has had a fascinating career journey so far. I hope you enjoy this one. Here is a high-level summary of what we covered in the episode:

  • How Karim became an investor
  • Being an investor is a double-edged sword and takes a long time to get there!
  • Coming from Kenya and background of struggle
  • Growing up in a struggle – does this lead him to be entrepreneurial?
  • Having great excitement coming from within from an early age
  • Entrepreneurial – Born or Built?
  • You have to go through the process to become a good one!
  • Essential to building the skillset behind the Entrepreneurial spirit
  • The Entrepreneurial spirit is always burning…it never ends!
  • The discipline is to finish what you started and also when to call it off!
  • Education in Kenya and then moving to Vancouver for University days
  • Always wanting to travel but needing to be able to fund it!
  • His first entrepreneurial experience selling Indian shirts in Vancouver – taking many lessons from this which was a great learning experience
    • Research is important
    • Pay attention to details
    • Be ready to execute
  • Internalizing these lessons from the early days
    • Having a great memory of details from businesses
  • Studying Economics and international trade and & Finance in Vancouver
  • Gave him a real understanding of money and trading – very practical
  • Advice – if you’re going to build a business you have to have an academic behind it!
  • Trying a variety of jobs post-college to get experience
  • Where did the investing angle come from?
  • Taking a role with an actual gold mine in Tanzania but not getting paid
  • Getting the promise of gold
  • Running the gold mine for 2 years
  • What does it mean to be an investor?
  • Sweat Equity – this was the start!
  • Success is like a drug – you have to be able to measure it!
  • Walking away from the experience of 2 years
  • Success is….the ability to walk away from something and take away the lessons learned – from the Gold Mine Experience there was many!
    • It’s not always about dollars
  • Next up – starting a Tex-Mexican restaurant in Kenya – made money from this
  • A second restaurant – wraps and smoothie bar…lost his shirt on this
  • The relationship with fear? When young and unattached, there is no fear. Later in life, it sets in!
  • From 2000 on, he moved to the US and was a ‘working guy’ to meet the bills!
  • Choosing the vertical to sell in Early Stage Start-up Businesses
  • Karim understood how these worked from his experience
  • This opened up many doors for Karim and introduced him to many investors and started to understand the psychology of the investors
  • How are Entrepreneurs and Investors different?
  • This depends on who’s money you’re investing and why?
  • The psychology is different at every stage
  • The 2 Types of Investors
    • Angel investor – you’re investing your own money – sometimes this is not rational
    • Institutional Investors – typical VC’s – other people’s money
  • How can anyone become an investor? Different countries have different rules
    • Start with Sweat Equity as an initial step into the world of investing
    • Playing a role for free and getting equity
    • Willing to give time for equity
    • Do some time and some cash investment – this is an option too
    • Karim did both
  • How does one find a company to offer sweat equity?
    • Sometimes this is done through connections
    • AngelList is a site that can do this too
  • San Francisco is a hotbed for start-ups and just walking into a bar/restaurant and find likeminded people to do this
  • Finding Co-working spaces are great opportunities to find potential start-ups and investors
  • Investing today – Pandemic times
    • Investment opportunities during a Pandemic?
    • What’s different?
    • What do you look at now compared to 3 months ago?
    • How do you see investing change in the coming months?
    • Relationships at the core?
    • What advice do you give to investors and/or start-ups?
    • Areas that are full of opportunity now and into the coming months?
    • How has Karmin’s view changed over the last few weeks due to COVID19?
    • Behaviours are going to change due to COVID19
    • This will completely define the future
    • This is having a huge impact on investors and their wealth
    • The only companies that survive are ones that have already a digital environment
    • Companies that haven’t done this are going to struggle
  • Today survival is key!
  • The importance of digital transformation will be key and has been key for the last few years
  • There is no time now to think through this – it’s about taking action at rapid pace now
  • In times of stress like now, teams will break down, so it’s vitally important to understand how the team will survive under the pressure
  • COVID will pass but the team pressure will remain
  • How does Culture come into it?
    • Two different aspects

1) Internal culture

2) Culture of the environment that you tend to be in – what is the culture of the investor?

Eg – how different this is between the US, Europe, and Australia

  • The Virtual Investor Conferences and how these work
  • What role/position stood out for Karim the most in his career so far?

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