Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Garden capital

I’m feeling kinda grey and green. Grey: Flurries of let’s go anywhere (San Luis Obispo, Ireland, Scottsdale, Black Butte) to celebrate our 40ths emails from amigos. Green: It’s the eve of the CleanStart conference at UCD. Alternative/smart/green/clean energy is, alas, heating up, which is kinda cool; it’s an opportunity to do good while fertilizing prospectively big and important companies. And if you can have fun doing it, you’ve nailed the (my) business triad: Have fun, make money, and do something important.

As I’ve explored in previous posts, companies and entrepreneurs are similar to gardens and gardeners. Venture capitalists – vis-à-vis gardening – may be a better analogy. Here’s how …

Gardeners spread seeds in fertile grounds to grow and cultivate plants in gardens. VCs spread money through investments in promising companies in fertile markets with similar ambitions (i.e., that products will emerge and prosper, and companies will be harvested to produce a return). The antes, or necessary elements, in gardening are seeds and soil, sunshine and water, fertilizer and fields, gardeners and their tools. For VCs, its ideas and embryonic companies, energy and capital, stewardship and big markets, entrepreneurs and execution.

Which leads me to Dilbert. Yep, Scott Adams’ brilliance: Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. Mechanical VCs mitigate risk and neuter harvest returns by investing in established gardens with mature plants and tendered by seasoned gardeners. What a bore; it’s not rare and the value is limited. Great VCs invest in seeds and as-yet-untilled gardens; they’re not sure if plants will crack the soil but, when they do, it’s a beautiful and bountiful thing.

I know a handful of plant geneticists and a few green capitalists, but I’ve yet to meet a true GC (garden capitalist), sans a handful of professional farmers. Sounds like a cool vocation.

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