Earlier this week, on the USA’s birthday, I sent a brief email to Techstars NYC founders. I got a pretty amazing response, and decided to publish the email on this blog verbatim with the hope that you will also find it helpful. Here it is:
Today is the birthday of this amazing country that afforded all of us the opportunity to become founders. While this opportunity may seem obvious to many, it can’t be taken for granted.
I come from the world where opportunities were not given, and dreams weren’t encouraged. My mom and dad, a high school teacher and a civil engineer, had the same salary: 110 rubles a month. All of their friends and peers had the same salaries.
People who tried to do something entrepreneurial were frowned upon, and marked as dishonest, or even criminal.
You see, our world is not even, and the opportunities aren’t everywhere.
To me, it is very clear that this country we live in, the land of opportunity, is very special.
We are going through difficult times today—as a society we are polarized to the extreme, and distrust each other. As an industry we have massive scandals. People lie, cheat, and deceive each other. It really is painful to see.
Even with all of that, I still see the America I so admire and love. I see America as this incredible melting pot; this diverse, wild, magical country that is strongly rooted in independence, free thinking, and innovation.
I see this America because all of you have let me be part of your founder journeys.
There is literally not a day that goes by that I don’t smile because of one of you.
I smile through stress, I smile through the calls on nights and weekends,
I smile through the rounds that fall apart, through co-founders leaving,
through long M&As, and through the basic, everyday grind.
I smile because I know in my heart how much love, passion, fire, madness, and vision there is in all of you.
I smile because you dare to dream.
This weekend I was doing my long overdue portfolio review, and after I did the tally, I realized that the collective worth of the companies that went through our first 4 programs is now over $400MM, and before the summer will be over, it will be close to $500MM. It blows my mind.
You sure are daring to dream. You are making it happen.
You remind me every day of the values of this country and why it exists; gratitude, integrity, intellectual honesty and really, really, really hard work.
You represent the best in America. You really do.
My wish is simply that you stay like this, and continue to do the work you do.
There is really no better way to continue to make America great.
Thank you for all the opportunities to date, and I look forward to many more together!