We arrive with focus, and we stick to it.
– Aliko Dangote
Big muscles do not make a farmer.
– Yoruba Proverb
Men and Women Wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.
– Ernest Shackleton (paraphrased)
Almost certain death. Slim chance of success. What are we waiting for?
– From The Lord of The Rings
Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept.
– Angela Davis
Are you afraid? Good. You’re in the great game now and the great game is terrifying.
– Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 9, “Battle of the Bastards”
I am not afraid; I was born to do this.
– Joan of Arc
Confusion is the sweat of learning.
– Rhett Allain
Some people are more certain of everything than I am of anything.
– Robert Rubin
Times of maximum danger are often also times of maximum opportunity.
Work until your idols become your rivals.
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
– Rosa Parks
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.
– Richard P. Feynman
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
– Richard P Feynman
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
– Nelson Mandela
Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.
– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Erroneous assumptions can be disastrous.
– Peter Drucker
If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing to excess.
– Edwin Land
He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.
Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks it, I will always stand on the side of the egg. Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide.
– Haruki Murakami (Always on the side of the egg)
If you want people to believe your promises tomorrow, it helps if you kept them yesterday.
– Seth Godin
Reasonable people do reasonable things. Only unreasonable people can do unreasonable things.
– Vinod Khosla
You need to try to do the impossible, to anticipate the unexpected. And when the unexpected happens, you should double the efforts to make order from the disorder it creates in your life.
– Andy Grove
If nobody will help you, do it alone.
– Michael Jordan
Do not easily despair.
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
– Thomas Jefferson
My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.
– Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle)
The first order of business is to try. You must try until your brain hurts.
– Elon Musk
The measure of greatness in a scientific idea is the extent to which it stimulates thought and opens up new lines of research.
– Paul A.M. Dirac
If I say I can do it, I can do it.
– Edgar Stiles, 24 Season 4, Day 4: 13:00 – 14:00
The inscrutable wisdom through which we exist is not less worthy of veneration in respect to what it denies us than in respect to what it has granted.
– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason (1788)
He who would build a path to the heavens must walk alone.
– Source Unknown
I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.
– Ecclesiastes 9:11, New Living Translation
I am a partner at KEC Ventures, an institutional seed-stage venture fund, where I devote the majority of my time to assessing potential early stage venture capital investments in technology startups. Before KEC Ventures, I worked at KEC Holdings – a family office in New Jersey where I was the second member of the team and the first member of what became the investing team, Lehman Brothers, UBS AG, and Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Before Watson Wyatt, I spent three years as a research assistant in the Tunable Diode Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory at Connecticut College, and before that I was a junior auditor at Issifu Ali & Co., a firm of chartered accountants in Accra, Ghana. I am based in New York. My LinkedIn profile will give you more detail on my background.
I hold a BA with a double major in Mathematics and Physics from Connecticut College, and an MBA with a specialization in Financial Instruments and Markets from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. I am also a charterholding member of CFA® Institute.
Before my departure for the United States I obtained my primary education at the Bayero University Staff Primary School in Kano, Nigeria. I studied for the WAEC GCE Ordinary Level at St. Francis Xavier Junior Seminary, in Wa, Ghana and for the WAEC GCE Advanced Level at the Presbyterian Boy’s Secondary School in Accra, Ghana. I was considered a bookworm during my childhood and adolescence. I am still a bookworm. I also have a slight obsession for mechanical pencils, and I have a habit of drinking A LOT of coffee.
I love watching soccer, and I am a supporter of the national teams from Ghana, Nigeria, and now, the United States of America too. In another life, I have no doubt that I would have been a great head-coach/manager. I am fascinated with the process by which the most successful football coaches wring consistently high performance from the teams that they manage. I believe there are lessons there for ambitious startup founders.
In my free time I am a fitness enthusiast, and I now have a couple of half-marathons under my belt. I expect to add to that number when I have a bit more free time.
I feel most inspired when I am grappling with nebulous problems that seem unfamiliar at first glance, and whose solution requires connecting seemingly unrelated concepts from different subjects. Abiding curiosity and a love of research is my calling card.
I love people. I love to think. I can be stubborn, and relentless, about the things I believe in. I am not afraid to be different.
I am married to Tasha S. Kersey. My son keeps me on my toes by saying things like “So what exactly are you trying to say Daddy? Because what you just said does not make any sense.”
My Values – These are the beliefs that are fundamental to who I am and how I work.
- Questioning Conventional Wisdom – The problems that excite me are usually poorly understood. Solving them requires an effort to rephrase questions and re-examine what we believe.
- Collaboration – Given a choice, I always opt for collaboration first and foremost. However, I recognise that I often adopt positions that are uncomfortable for other people. In such circumstances I am not afraid to stand on my own until I am persuaded that I am wrong, or until I persuade others to adopt my position. I am not afraid to be different. My mental models for collaboration are like a relay team, or a soccer/football team – sports in which the team is only as good as its weakest member.
- The Joy of Learning, The Pursuit of Knowledge – I am enthusiastically committed to continually striving to become better at my craft. Sometimes that means I have to unlearn a lot of what I previously believed to be true. Sometimes it means I have to learn new things slowly. Sometimes it means I have to learn quickly. Through it all I hope to be moving forward. This is a quality I have inherited from my mom, and my dad.
- Teaching – I do not truly understand something till I can explain it clearly to someone else in simple terms that they can understand. As much as I love to share what I am learning, I am equally eager to learn from other people who share my curiosity, and my passion for lifelong learning.
My long-term goal: To become one of the best seed-stage venture capitalists in the world, and for our team to become one of the best early-stage venture funds in history.