I invest in singular individuals who will do whatever it takes to build Empires.
I’m originally from Lebanon and I’ve lived in Tours, Paris, Hong Kong, São Paulo and San Francisco, which has allowed me to feel like a local anywhere I go. My family was large and loving, and even though we weren’t rich, they always made me feel like a prince. My childhood was marked by bountiful and crowded meals together with the playing out of complicated political schemes. At the time, everything seemed so easy to me, and when I was 10 years old, I won my first computer. I quickly learned how to code, and thus my first website was born. Before long, I was building websites for clients who had no idea of how old I was. Then I realized that I could help artisans from my town make more money by selling their stuff through my very own online antique shop. When they found out that a 15-year-old geek was making a 66% margin on their sales, they bought the platform. Starting and selling a business at that age made me grow up very fast, but it also helped me discover a great deal about human nature.
I loved to study, but I suffered my way through college. I never fit in anywhere, and social sciences, law, and philosophy couldn’t hold my interest. Thanks to Amazon, I bought almost 1,000 books and read at least half of them. I pretended that I had read the other half as well, thanks to some educated guesswork based on the cover and a few random pages. For me, life as a student life meant a lot of partying, traveling and plenty of joy.
Entrepreneurship isn’t fancy. Neither is dropping out. But I did both.Following a few small-scale projects, I found a way to scrape information from PDFs. After numerous unsuccessful pitches, almost by miracle, a fund in Hong-Kong made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Gaining their trust inch by inch, I started advising them on much more than just technology. By visiting and helping several targeted companies, I served as a business observer, providing strategic insights and even witnessing a few violent business fights. I learned the whatever-it-takes mindset from the inside. Soon I felt strong enough to build Hypios, an open innovation platform designed to solve the world’s most complex R&D problems. I put my life into it, making all kinds of mistakes and raising lots of money with people who were not used to making those kinds of bets. But one day, as Hypios was still struggling to find a business model, I came to the conclusion that nothing good would ever come out of it. I decided to settle down in Silicon Valley, rent a house, and try to understand what had happened to me. Why, as an Entrepreneur, had I failed so much?
Silicon Valley is a strange world for uneducated observers because its rationality isn’t obvious. That’s where I learned what it takes to build Empires. I started to penetrate the social life of SV, and that’s where I discovered a very simple truth: being a great CEO means focusing on a single idea for ten years. And I knew I couldn’t do that. But I also saw that extreme curiosity like I have is better suited for investments. So very quickly, I put together over 20 deals. One day, I met a curly-haired girl who was leading a new place for startups in Paris: Alice Zagury. Whereas she didn’t know much about startups or engineering, she had a refreshing approach and a hacker’s mindset.
At its heart, TheFamily is a shared vision, the one that Alice, Nicolas and I had together and which we’re working to spread to others. Designing an infrastructure that enables ambition throughout Europe is not simple, but it’s a great mission.