Event report – Funding Leaders: From CIA to Startup Investments

On the 26th of January, Startup Disrupt organized an event Funding Leaders: From CIA to Startup Investments. We talked with a former CIA director, former US army general, and a partner at KKR leading private equity David H. Petraeus

The fireside chat with David Petraeus was moderated by Vít Horký. Vít Horký is an angel investor and a founder of a startup Brand embassy. The talk was divided into three blocks – they’ve talked about investing in startups, the 21st century’s grand challenges and the role of startups in it, and last but not least about startups in the wider ecosystem. 

David Petraeus co-invested with many interesting people – for example with John E. Doerr. Doerr is an American investor and venture capitalist. Petraeus considers Doerr as one of the best American venture capitalists of all time. Petraeus and Doerr are two of three series seed A and seed B investors in a firm called ASAP. ASAP is an artificial intelligence firm company that will in Petraeus’s opinion be a unicorn – if it’s not already. 

Vít Horký and David Petraeus talked for an example about the inauguration of Joe Biden and the fast-changing market. Petraeus lives near Washington DC and he feels that the situation in the US is way quieter now. 

The US and the future

Petraeus worked with the offices of former US presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In his eyes were startups and the whole startup ecosystem supported by each of their administrations – and also by former president Trump. There was always big empowerment of entrepreneurship in the US because it’s something that has kept America’s economy at the forefront of the world for centuries. Also – we can see that clearly in recent decades with the rise of startups and incoming revolution and innovations from Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, and Silicon Hills. 

In his opinion, the future is in Asia. Not just because of the economical growth, but also because of the innovation in entrepreneurship – for example, the growth of Xiaomi or Tencent.

Strategic leadership

Being a strategic leader is the key – even when you are a young and new founder. You have to communicate the message of the startup not only in your company but also to your potential clients, customers, and investors. The founder has to be someone who scales up the startup. 

Petraeus discovered the world of startups and entrepreneurship when he was a director of the CIA. He was fascinated by all of the things going on and the rise of startups, so he found a mentor – Alex Carp. He wanted to hire David H. Petraeus after he ended his career in the CIA on strategic leadership and other cases. 

Impact VS profit

Is profit the only measurement of the success of a startup to Petraeus? Doing good and doing well is needed. You can do both and have to do both – if you don’t your ability to do good is going to be limited. In the eyes of Petraeus, both impact and profit are equally important. As he mentioned – as on a military mission, you won’t have a single-minded goal and you have to focus on more things.

If you want to hear the whole discussion, watch it here on Startup Disrupt’s YouTube channel.

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